BBC coverage of Succot Temple Mount riots – part two

Although order was restored following the rioting on Temple Mount on the eve of Succot (September 27th), the attempts by Palestinian agitators to inflame tensions at the site did not end there.  

“Palestinian protesters are planning for more violence on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Monday, stockpiling rocks inside the al-Aqsa Mosque at the site after a morning of clashes, new images indicated Sunday.

The photographs, which Channel 2 television said Sunday night were released by Palestinians and obtained by Jerusalem district police, show lines and heaps of masonry inside the mosque, hours after rioters clashed with police as Muslims marked the end of Eid al-Fitr [sic – actually Eid al Adha – Ed.] and Jews prepared to celebrate the festival of Sukkot.

According to Channel 2, the stones were prepared in advance of Monday’s return of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, after they were banned from entering Sunday in an effort to maintain the recent calm after days of riots. Some religious Jews traditionally ascend to the site, considered the holiest in Judaism, during the week-long Sukkot holiday that began Sunday evening.

The discovery of the images led Jerusalem police chief Moshe Edri on Sunday evening to impose an indefinite ban on male Muslim worshipers under the age of 50 from entering the site, the TV report said.”

And indeed, early the next morning – September 28th – the rioting recommenced.

“Police said forces entered the Temple Mount at approximately 6:45 Monday morning after repeated efforts at dialogue to end the standoff and clear the site of dangerous materials failed.

According to police, the forces were met with an onslaught of rocks and firebombs thrown by protesters who had barricaded themselves in the al-Aqsa Mosque. Police also said bottles filled with unknown material were hurled at them, as well as firecrackers.”

In an article titled “Jerusalem holy site witnesses fresh clashes” which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on September 28th, readers were told that:AAM 28 9

“There have been fresh clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians at a disputed holy site in Jerusalem.

Police fired tear gas at youths who were throwing stones and petrol bombs.”

Only in the article’s sixth paragraph did readers gain an inkling of insight into the premeditated nature of the violence.

“After clashing with Israeli police at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount compound on Sunday morning, Palestinian protesters barricaded themselves inside the al-Aqsa mosque overnight, stockpiling stones and other projectiles.”

Baseless rumour rooted in deliberate incitement was again amplified but, in contrast to the previous day’s report, this time at least the Israeli side of the story was included.

“Many Palestinians suspect Israel wants to make changes to the status quo that has governed rights of access since 1967 – something Israel has denied.”

“Palestinians have been alarmed by rumours that Israel is planning to change the delicate status quo at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount compound, which allows Jews to visit the site but not pray there.

However, Israel’s prime minister has insisted he is committed to maintaining it.

“We are not the ones to change the status quo. Those who take pipe bombs to mosques are the ones changing the status quo,” Benjamin Netanyahu said last Thursday.”

Readers were told that the “protesters” (as they were inaccurately termed):

“…vowed to “defend” the mosque – the third holiest in Islam – during the eight-day Jewish festival of Sukkot, which began on Monday and was expected to bring an increase in Jewish visitors….”  

As was later reported after calm was restored, the ‘increased’ number of Jewish visitors to Temple Mount on September 28th came to the grand total of twenty-four.

No effort was made in this report to inform readers that non-Muslim visitors to the site do not enter the Al Aqsa Mosque or that there is of course no need to “defend” it. Neither were readers informed that these repeated attempts to prevent visits to the site by non-Muslims are in breach of the existing agreements concerning the site and contrary to accepted norms of religious freedom. Readers were however told that:

“Israel has banned Muslim men under the age of 50 from worshipping at the compound on occasion – including during Sukkot this year – but argues that it is about maintaining order.”

Although these repeated incidents of violent rioting on Temple Mount inevitably receive BBC News coverage, audiences have not been provided with the back-story which would enable them to understand the issue properly. Like its predecessors, this article too neglects to tell audiences about the frequent and extensive incitement coming from official Palestinian sources as well as others and no information concerning the Northern Islamic Movement and Hamas funding of the agitators on Temple Mount is included in the report. Moreover, the BBC has on occasion uncritically amplified the myths, rumours and libels which underwrite the violence on Temple Mount, thus contributing to the entrenchment of this particular lethal narrative.

In the absence of that essential background, BBC audiences continue to be herded towards the mistaken view that this recurring story is about “clashes” which occasionally and mysteriously ‘break out’ between Palestinian “protesters” and the Israeli police rather than an ongoing attempt to gain exclusivity on Temple Mount and prevent access for members of two of the three religions for whom the site is significant. 

It is high time the BBC got round to telling its audiences the real story. 

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