Reviewing a BBC slap to the face of impartial journalism

As the year’s end approaches we will be taking a look at some of the topics that the BBC chose to promote during 2018 in a manner that went beyond ordinary reporting both in terms of the amount of content produced and adherence to standards of ‘due impartiality’.

One of the BBC’s campaigns began in late December 2017 and continued until March 21st 2018, with an encore on July 29th. It related to Ahed Tamimi who, together with other members of her ‘activist’ family, had been featured in BBC content in the past.

However, in this case the supposedly ‘impartial’ BBC elected to lend its voice – and considerable outreach – to promotion and amplification of a blatantly political campaign. 

19th December 2017, BBC News website:

Palestinian girl arrested after troops ‘slapped’ in video

Palestinian girl arrested after ‘slap’ video

Both items discussed here.

“To sum up, the BBC’s ‘reporting’ on this story promotes – twice – filmed footage for the most part produced by family members of the story’s main protagonist, two Facebook posts from her father, one article from a notoriously partisan and inaccurate media outlet quoting her aunt, one Ynet report quoting her father and a second Ynet report relating to a previous incident in which she was involved.”

1st January 2018, BBC News website:

Palestinian girl charged after slapping soldier on video

Discussed here.

“Notably, while the BBC did elect to amplify the Tamimi family’s claim of “legitimate resistance” and to inform its audiences that “many Palestinians have hailed Tamimi as a hero of the resistance to Israeli occupation”, it refrained from telling them of her support for terrorism and advocacy of the murder of Israelis.”

1st January 2018, BBC World Service radio, ‘Newshour’, Yolande Knell:

Discussed here.

“…the BBC’s Yolande Knell was already aware of the charge of incitement.”

3rd January 2018, BBC Radio 4, ‘Today’:

Discussed here.

“No mention of the additional charges of rock-throwing and incitement was made throughout the item, which included interviews with Israeli MK Dr Michael Oren and B’tselem’s research director Yael Stein. Neither were listeners told that Ahed Tamimi’s mother Nariman has collaborated (along with additional members of the family) with B’tselem’s ‘armed with cameras’ project.”

8th January 2018, BBC Radio 4, ‘Today’, Yolande Knell:

Discussed here.

In this report from Yolande Knell, listeners heard from former IDF chief prosecutor Maurice Hirsh who noted the charge of incitement against Ahed Tamimi. They also heard interviews with an Israeli MK, Tamimi’s lawyer, Tamimi’s father and statements from a member of an anti-Israel NGO.

“Significantly, although the video footage of Ahed Tamimi urging others to carry out acts of violence is in the public domain, it has not been presented to BBC audiences.”

17th January 2018, BBC News website, Yolande Knell:

Ahed Tamimi: Spotlight turns on Palestinian viral slap video teen

Discussed here.

“The four interviewees who appeared in Knell’s audio report – Ahed Tamimi’s lawyer Gabi Lasky, her father Bassem Tamimi, Israeli MK Anat Berko and former IDF chief prosecutor Lt-Col (res) Maurice Hirsch – are also quoted in this written report.”

31st January 2018, BBC One, BBC News channel, BBC News website, Jeremy Bowen:

Is a slap an act of terror?

Ahed Tamimi: Was Palestinian teenager’s ‘slap’ terrorism?

Both discussed here.

“Clearly both those headlines and presentations suggest to BBC audiences that Ahed Tamimi has been charged with terrorism following her assault of a soldier – but that disingenuous implication is false.”

5th February 2018, BBC World Service radio, ‘Newshour’, Jeremy Bowen:

Discussed here.

13th February 2018, BBC News website:

Ahed Tamimi: Palestinian viral slap video teen goes on trial

Discussed here.

“However, as has been the case in the majority of the BBC’s copious past reporting on Ahed Tamimi’s arrest and indictment, this article too failed to provide readers with details of her call for violence on social media which is the basis of that incitement charge.”

13th February 2018, BBC World Service radio, ‘Newshour’, James Reynolds

Discussed here.

“All the more significant is the fact that he [Reynolds] failed to inform listeners of Ahed Tamimi’s “message to the world” – as defined by her mother – in that same footage which included the call for violence that is the basis for the charge of incitement against her.”

21st March 2018, BBC News website:

Ahed Tamimi: Palestinian slap video teen gets eight months in plea deal

Discussed here.

“…BBC audiences were not informed in this report that the charge of incitement relates to the fact that in the same video produced and distributed by her mother in which Ahed Tamimi was filmed assaulting soldiers, she also made a call for violence.”

Between December 19th 2017 and March 21st 2018, the BBC produced at least thirteen written, filmed or audio reports on that topic: clearly an unusual volume of coverage clearly intended to secure audience attention.

All the written and filmed reports (eight) included the word “slap” (or derivatives) in their title – an indication of what the BBC wanted audiences to think the story was about and how perception of the story was manipulated. Several of the reports told BBC audiences that Tamimi was imprisoned because of a ‘slap’ while failing to adequately explain – or even mention – the most serious charge against her: that of incitement to violence. Only one of the reports (BBC Radio 4, January 8th) provided audiences with a reasonable explanation of the charges against Tamimi.

The reports included interviews with three different Israeli politicians and one former IDF chief prosecutor. In addition to numerous interviews with Ahed Tamimi’s father – together with links to the family’s social media platforms – and quotes from her lawyer, BBC reporting on this story promoted quotes from and campaigns run by inadequately presented partisan political NGOs and activists such as B’tselemJonathan PollackAmnesty International, Avaaz (including a link to a petition set up by Tamimi’s father) and Human Rights Watch.

The BBC returned to the story in late July, with the same editorial policies in evidence in four additional reports.

29th July 2018, BBC News website:

Ahed Tamimi, Palestinian viral slap video teenager, freed in Israel

Discussed here.

“…once again BBC audiences were not informed in this report that the charge of incitement to which Ahed Tamimi pleaded guilty relates to the fact that in the same video produced and distributed by her mother in which she was filmed assaulting soldiers, she also made a public call for violence.”

29th July 2018, BBC World News TV, Nida Ibrahim:

Discussed here.

29th July 2018, BBC News website, Nida Ibrahim:

Discussed here.

“In the film itself the charge of incitement was likewise entirely erased from audience view.” 

29th July 2018, BBC World Service radio, ‘Newshour’, Nida Ibrahim:

Discussed here.

“As has been the case in all the BBC’s coverage of this latest instalment of the Ahed Tamimi story, the fact that the charge of incitement was the most serious of the charges against her – and its details – was erased from audience view.”

Throughout the BBC’s generous coverage of this story, audiences saw her described as “a prominent child activist“, a “star on social media”, “a modern-day Joan of Arc“, “a symbol of resistance to Israeli occupation“, “a national icon” and “the new iconic face of Palestinian resistance“.

BBC audiences were told that Tamimi is to be seen as “standing up to the reality of Israeli occupation, defending her home with her bare hands” and “standing up to armed soldiers on occupied land” and that her aim is “to resist the occupation“.

The one-sided politicised campaigning that BBC audiences saw instead of objective coverage of this story is a slap in the face for journalism and – not least in light of the BBC Middle East editor’s campaign contribution – detrimental to the BBC’s reputation as a trustworthy media outlet committed to accurate and impartial reporting.

Related Articles:

BBC reporter’s Tweets breach impartiality guidelines

BBC brushes off a complaint about a journalist’s Tweets

The BBC ME editor’s response to criticism of his recent reporting

BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ hosts Ahmad Tibi – part one

BBC Arabic producer breaches social media guidelines again

 

 

 

 

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ continues to trivialise the Ahed Tamimi story

The February 13th afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included an item described in its synopsis as follows:

“Also in the programme; the trial of a Palestinian teenager who slapped an Israeli soldier and lunged at another has begun in an Israeli military court”

Presenter Julian Marshall also used the terms ‘slapped’ and ‘lunged’ in his introduction to the item (from 14:04 here).

[emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Marshall: “Now, so the trial of a Palestinian teenager who slapped an Israeli soldier and lunged at another has begun in an Israeli military court. Ahed Tamimi, aged 17, is charged with 12 offences including assaulting security forces and incitement to violence. If convicted, she could face a lengthy jail term.”

Marshall then went on to introduce a recording of a statement made by Tamimi’s lawyer – who has been featured in two previous BBC reports by Yolande Knell.

Marshall: “The case of Ahed Tamimi is being heard behind closed doors on the judge’s orders as the 17 year-old is being tried as a minor. Speaking to reporters outside the court, Miss Tamimi’s lawyer Gabi Lasky criticised the decision to close the trial to the public.”

Lasky: “The court decided what is good for the court and not what is good for Ahed. They understand that people outside of the military court are interested in Ahed’s case. They understand that her rights are being infringed and her trial is something that shouldn’t be happening. So the way to keep it out of everybody’s eyes is to close doors and not allow people inside the court for her hearings.”

A report by the Times of Israel provides some background to the statement from Lasky which the BBC chose to promote.

“Lasky popped out of the courtroom to provide a quick statement to reporters — in English, of course — expressing her outrage over the ruling.

The attorney explained that upon returning inside chambers, she would argue that because Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian people is illegal, the military court hearing Tamimi’s case was illegitimate as well.

The line of defense appeared to establish an uphill battle for Lasky in that it required the judge to denounce his own authority in order to rule in Tamimi’s favor.

But her audience outside the caravan, didn’t seem concerned as they nodded their heads in approval of the defense.”

Marshall next introduced the BBC’s Rome correspondent who appears, once again, to have been temporarily reassigned to the Middle East.

Marshall: “Well let’s speak now to the BBC’s James Reynolds live in Jerusalem and James, remind us of the facts of this case – those, that is, that are not disputed.”

Reynolds: “Right, let’s take you back to December tw…last year in her West Bank village – the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh. There are around 600 people live there. They often periodically every Friday have clashes with Israeli soldiers and at one point on the 15th of December, mobile phone footage shows her confronting and speaking to two Israeli soldiers on the outskirts of the driveway of her family home. And the mobile phone footage – which I’m sure a lot of people have seen – shows her arguing. It shows her first trying to hit one soldier – I think on the arm – and then she slaps him on the face. He doesn’t react. She then moves towards the second soldier and is eventually separated from them. Israel says that that mobile phone footage is enough evidence – it is enough proof of assault – to put her on trial along with a number of other incidents. But Palestinians of course see it very differently.”

Given that Reynolds was asked to state “the facts of this case”, it is of course remarkable that he failed to mention that the Friday “clashes” in Nabi Saleh are organised by Ahed Tamimi’s father and extended family or that the mobile phone footage he partially describes was filmed by her mother Nariman and live-streamed on Facebook. All the more significant is the fact that he failed to inform listeners of Ahed Tamimi’s “message to the world” – as defined by her mother – in that same footage which included the call for violence that is the basis for the charge of incitement against her.

“Whether it is stabbings or suicide bombings or throwing stones, everyone must do his part and we must unite in order for our message to be heard that we want to liberate Palestine”

Those highly relevant omissions facilitated subsequent trivialisation of the charges against Ahed Tamimi by both Marshall and Reynolds.

Marshall: “It seems – well ehm…I suppose it depends on your perspective – but a relatively minor offence to be tried in front of a military court.”

Reynolds: “Yes and it does sound incredibly surprising when you think of an army – a hugely powerful army – why it would be spending its time prosecuting what on any judgement is a relatively minor misdemeanour. “

In addition to incitement, the charges against Ahed Tamimi include two counts of aggravated assault of a soldier, two counts of stone-throwing, two counts of threatening a soldier and four counts of obstructing a soldier in execution of his duty. In the UK, the charge of obstructing or assaulting a police officer would not be considered “a relatively minor misdemeanour” – i.e. a non-indictable offence – as the BBC well knows.

Displaying his ‘expertise’ by twice inaccurately describing the IDF as “a volunteer army”, Reynolds then went on to bizarrely suggest that the charges against Ahed Tamimi are steered by public mood rather than by the law and to further trivialise her actions.

Reynolds: “But Israelis say it’s about more than that. It is about soldiers. The key thing from Israel’s point of view is this: the army is at the heart of the society here. It is a volunteer army – a lot of Israelis can identify themselves with those soldiers. There’s been praise for the fact that they didn’t react and there’s been a thought among some in Israel that you have to stand up for those soldiers, who are clearly identifiable with the rest of the population, and you have to protect them against insultshowever trivial those insults may be. That might be an explanation which is very difficult to understand outside Israel but here, because of the centrality of a volunteer army to society, it is perhaps more understandable.”

Marshall: “And very briefly, James, what kind of sentence could she face if convicted?”

Reynolds: “If convicted of all crimes, essentially she could be looking at around a year in jail if found guilty.”

This is the BBC’s twelfth report (at least) on Ahed Tamimi in less than two months and the third to appear on ‘Newshour’. Only one of those reports – on the BBC’s domestic channel Radio 4 – has provided audiences with any sort of information concerning the background to the charge of incitement against Ahed Tamimi.

In other words, this report continues the editorial policy of providing BBC audiences worldwide with a trivialised and one-sided portrayal of the story which resembles activism more than journalism.  

Related Articles:

BBC News website promotes the Tamimi clan again

BBC News omits a relevant part of the Tamimi charges story

BBC radio’s inconsistent coverage of charges against Ahed Tamimi

BBC’s Knell reports on the Tamimi case again – and raises a question

BBC’s Bowen diverts Ahed Tamimi story with a disingenuous red herring

Jeremy Bowen’s Tamimi PR continues on BBC World Service radio

BBC continues its campaigning with eleventh report on Ahed Tamimi

 

 

 

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part four

In the first three installments of this post (see ‘related articles’ below) we documented BBC News website coverage of the first thirty days of Operation Protective Edge. Part four relates to the next ten days: August 7th to August 16th 2014 inclusive.

Content on the website included written news reports and written ‘Features and Analysis’ articles as well as filmed items presented as stand-alone reports and additionally often embedded into the written articles. Those filmed items also appeared on BBC television news programmes and hence give us an idea of what worldwide audiences were being shown and to what extent the BBC lived up to its claims of “equal coverage” of the two sides to the conflict.

A small amount of content which appeared on the BBC News website at the time has since become unavailable, but below are the vast majority of the reports offered to the website’s visitors. We are not including here the many reports concerning demonstrations relating to the conflict in Europe and elsewhere which appeared on the Middle East page: that topic will be covered separately. Also not included in this chapter are three separate filmed reports about NHS activities (delegations to the region, donations of equipment) which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on August 9th, 11th and 12th.

August 7th:Chart Aug 7

Written:

Israel offers Gaza truce extension but Hamas has yet to agree

DEC launches Gaza emergency appeal

Israel Gaza: Mediators seek to extend truce in Cairo

Features:

Israelis along the Gaza Border keep calm and carry on  Lyse Doucet (discussed here)

Filmed:

Israeli army say main objective in Gaza achieved ‘completely’  Lyse Doucet in Israel (discussed here)

 Israel’s military strategy in Gaza under scrutiny  Paul Adams (discussed here)

Gaza awaits Israeli-Hamas truce talks verdict   Orla Guerin in Gaza

August 8th:Chart Aug 8

Written: (discussed here)

Gaza ceasefire ends as Israel reports rocket fire

Israel air strikes resume in Gaza amid rockets  

Features:

Graphic content: How media differ on use of Gaza images  BBC Monitoring

After the Gaza ceasefire: Hyper-tense and under fire   Wyre Davies (discussed here)

Caution needed with Gaza casualty figures  (discussed here, later amended, date changed – discussed here)

Gaza conflict: The hundreds who lost their lives  (discussed here)

Filmed:

Air strikes and rocket attacks after Gaza ceasefire ends  Orla Guerin in Gaza

BBC reports from blockaded Israel-Gaza border crossing   Wyre Davies at Kerem Shalom (discussed here)

‘We’ve seen and heard a number of explosions here in Gaza’  James Reynolds in Gaza (discussed here)

August 9th:Chart Aug 9

Written:

Gaza conflict: US and UN condemn new Gaza violence

Gaza air strikes ‘kill five’ as rockets hit Israel

Filmed:

Strikes resume in Gaza as ceasefire ends  Kevin Connolly in Gaza (discussed here)

Violence resumes is Gaza as truce comes to an end  James Reynolds in Gaza (discussed here)

Israel ‘very restrained’ with its offensive in Gaza  Danny Ayalon

August 10th:Chart Aug 10

Written:

Gaza conflict: Egypt seeks new Israel-Hamas ceasefire

Gaza conflict: New three-day ceasefire begins

Filmed:

New truce agreed in Gaza conflict  Orla Guerin in Gaza

Gaza conflict: Israel refuses to negotiate while ‘under fire’  Kevin Connolly in Gaza

Gaza crisis: Fears that talks in Cairo could collapse  Lyse Doucet

August 11th:Chart Aug 11

Written:

Gaza conflict: New three-day ceasefire holds

Gaza conflict: Fresh talks begin in Egypt

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Families return home as Gaza ceasefire holds  Yolande Knell in Gaza (discussed here)

Mid-East crisis: Gazans hope for ‘open seas and borders’   Orla Guerin in Gaza (discussed here)

August 12th:Chart Aug 12

Written:

Israel export licences warning from UK

August 13th:

Written:

Six dead as Gaza disposal team tackles Israeli missile

Rocket fired from Gaza hits Israel

Filmed:Chart Aug 13

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres ‘seeks peace’ over Gaza  Wyre Davies interview with Shimon Peres

Gaza conflict: Allegations of war crimes  Orla Guerin in Gaza (discussed here)

Mid-East crisis: The blockade of Gaza – in 60 seconds  Michael Hirst (discussed here)

Israel, Palestinians ‘extend Gaza truce by five days’  Yolande Knell

August 14th:Chart Aug 14

Written:

Israel and Palestinians begin tense five-day Gaza truce  (discussed here)

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Ceasefire extended by five days  Yolande Knell in Gaza

August 15th:

Written:Chart Aug 15

Jewish Chronicle apologises after running Gaza appeal advert   later amended and date changed (discussed here)

Filmed:

Yolande Knell meets Gazans working to restore utilities  Yolande Knell in Gaza (discussed here)

August 16th:

Features:Chart Aug 16

Dutchman returns Holocaust medal after family deaths in Gaza  (discussed here and here)

Clearly the most striking aspect of this period of coverage of the conflict is the sudden decline in the number of reports produced by the BBC in comparison with the previous thirty days. Two factors contributed to that drop: like much of the foreign media the BBC apparently assumed that the August 5th ceasefire was going to hold and began moving journalists who do not normally cover the region, but had been ‘parachuted in’ to provide back up to its Jerusalem Bureau team, out of the area. Concurrently, the ISIS story in Iraq and Syria began to gather pace and resources were diverted to covering that issue.

The most obvious effect of those changes is that after the withdrawal of Israeli ground troops from the Gaza Strip on August 5th and despite the breakdown of the ceasefire of that date and the continuation of missile fire into Israel, BBC audiences saw only one filmed report depicting the situation as far as civilians in Israel were concerned between August 7th and August 16th. They did, however, see twelve filmed reports from the Gaza Strip during that period.

 Graph Aug 7 to Aug 16

By August 16th visitors to the BBC News website (and television audiences) had seen almost three times as much filmed coverage from the Gaza Strip as they had from Israel (37.5 reports compared to 100.5) since the beginning of the conflict.  

Graph Jul 8 to Aug 16

The major theme dominating BBC reporting during the period from August 7th to August 16th remained the vigorous amplification of Hamas’ demands concerning the lifting of border restrictions and the construction of a seaport. Missile attacks on Israel were severely under-reported or ignored and ceasefire violations by terrorist groups downplayed or distorted. The amplification of the agendas of NGOs engaged in political warfare against Israel continued, as did the promotion of claims of ‘war crimes’.

A particularly notable event during this period was the appearance of the article by the BBC News Head of Statistics on the issue of Gaza casualty figures after an entire month of context-free BBC citation of Hamas-supplied data. The fact that the article soon underwent changes which diluted its original message as a result of the application of outside political pressure is highly significant and of course reflects very badly on the BBC’s supposed commitment to accuracy and impartiality.

Related articles:

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part one

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part two

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part three

BBC WS ‘Newshour’: a test case for BBC claims of ‘equal coverage’

The BBC’s pictorial portrayal of conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip

‘From Our Own Correspondent’: a test case for BBC claims of ‘equal coverage’

 

 

 

 

 

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part three

In parts one and two of this post we documented BBC News website coverage of the first twenty days of Operation Protective Edge. Part three relates to the next ten days: July 28th to August 6th 2014 inclusive.

Content on the website included written news reports and written ‘Features and Analysis’ articles as well as filmed items presented as stand-alone reports and additionally often embedded into the written articles. Those filmed items also appeared on BBC television news programmes and hence give us an idea of what worldwide audiences were being shown and to what extent the BBC lived up to its claims of “equal coverage” of the two sides to the conflict.

A small amount of content which appeared on the BBC News website at the time has since become unavailable, but below are the vast majority of the reports offered to the website’s visitors. We are not including here the many reports concerning demonstrations relating to the conflict in Europe and elsewhere which appeared on the Middle East page: that topic will be covered separately.

July 28th:Chart Jul 28

Written:

Gaza crisis: UN calls for immediate ceasefire

Gaza: Uneasy calm after UN ceasefire call

Gaza in critical condition, says UN’s Ban Ki-moon   (discussed here)

Features:

US-Israel relations tested by Kerry shuttle diplomacy  Suzanne Kianpour

Filmed:

Israel tells UN ‘we are fighting terrorism’ Ron Prosor

Riyad Mansour: ‘We want to see fundamental changes’  Riyad Mansour

Gaza crisis: Lull in violence as Palestinians mark Eid  Martin Patience in Gaza

Gaza conflict: Uneasy calm after UN ceasefire call Martin Patience in Gaza

Gaza crisis: Kerry urges ‘humanitarian’ ceasefire  John Kerry

Middle East crisis: Children pay heavy price in Gaza  Ian Pannell in Gaza (discussed here)

Hamas: ‘We are getting killed but we won’t give up’  Ian Pannell interview with Ehab Al Ghossein  (discussed here)

Ten Israeli soldiers killed in attacks  Orla Guerin in Israel

Netanyahu: ‘We need to be prepared for a prolonged campaign’   PM Netanyahu

Deadly blasts hit Gaza and Israel after lull in violence  Chris Morris in Gaza

July 29th:Chart Jul 29

Written:

Gaza City and Israel’s Eshkol hit by deadly blasts  (discussed here)

Israel PM Netanyahu warns of ‘prolonged’ Gaza campaign  (discussed here)

Israel intensifies Gaza attacks after Netanyahu warning

Turkey PM Erdogan returns US Jewish award in Israel row

Features:

In pictures: Gaza hit again after ‘heaviest night’

Filmed:

Strike hits Gaza media building Gaza

Israeli air strike hits ‘Hamas media building’ in Gaza   Emily Thomas Gaza

West Bank Palestinians politically divided, but united in anger  Jon Donnison in Beit Ummar (discussed here)

Gaza’s power station ‘hit by Israeli shelling’  Chris Morris and Martin Patience in Gaza

Gaza bombardment kills at least 100   Ian Pannell in Gaza

Middle East crisis: Tel Aviv resident on living with conflict

Middle East crisis: Air strikes fill Gaza skyline with smoke  Matthew Amroliwala  Gaza

Gaza crisis: Inside militants’ tunnel  Orla Guerin in Israel

Middle East crisis: BBC at Gaza mosque ruins  Chris Morris in Gaza (edited Oct 7 – discussed here)

Middle East crisis: Israeli air strikes across Gaza  Chris Morris in Gaza

July 30th:Chart Jul 30

Written:

Gaza conflict: Hamas vows no Israel ceasefire

Gaza conflict: UN accuses Israel over Jabaliya attack

Gaza conflict: ‘Israeli market strike kills 17’

Features:

Conflicted UN struggles in global peace efforts   Nick Bryant

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Is there hope for a ceasefire?  James Robbins (discussed here)

‘Gaza children killed as they slept’ in UN-run school  Chris Gunness UNRWA

Gaza: ‘Terrible scene’ in UN-run school hit by Israeli fire  Chris Morris in Gaza

Gaza crisis: Israel’s military strategy   Orla Guerin in Israel (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: ‘Israeli market strike kills 15’  Martin Patience in Gaza

Gaza conflict: UN accuses Israel over Jabaliya attack  Chris Morris in Gaza

Gaza school: ‘Israel does not target UN facilities’ says IDF  Lt Col Peter Lerner

July 31st:Chart Jul 31

Written:

Gaza conflict: Israel to investigate school shelling

Gaza conflict: Israel calls up 16,000 reserve soldiers

Israel ‘to destroy’ Hamas Gaza tunnels – Netanyahu

Israeli Iron Dome firms ‘infiltrated by Chinese hackers’

Features:

Gaza conflict: Disputed deadly incidents  later amended and date changed. (discussed here)

Gaza-Israel conflict: Is the fighting over?  later amended and date changed.

Filmed:

Gaza crisis: Families grieve UN school dead  Ian Pannell in Gaza

Mark Regev: ‘If we find that it was errant fire from Israel I’m sure we will apologise’  Mark Regev

Quarter of Gaza population displaced, says UN  Martin Patience in Gaza

Families forced to stay in Gaza’s shelled UN school  Martin Patience in Gaza

Gaza crisis: UN representatives give their views  Ron Prosor & Riyad Mansour

Israeli opposition leader backs action against Hamas  Yitzhak Hertzog

Gaza crisis: UN says Israel must protect civilians or cease fire  Pierre Krahenbuhl UNRWA

Gaza crisis: UN announces Israel and Hamas ceasefire  UN

Gaza displaced ‘near breaking point’ – UN  Ian Pannell in Gaza

Gaza crisis: Israel attacks ‘not accidental’, claims UN  Navi Pillay

Gaza crisis: Israel releases ‘aborted airstrike’ video  Orla Guerin in Israel (discussed here)

August 1st:Chart Aug 1

Written: (discussed here)

Gaza 72-hour humanitarian truce by Israel and Hamas begins

Israel to resume Gaza operation as truce with Hamas crumbles

Gaza militants ‘seize Israeli soldier’ as ceasefire ends

Live page:

As it happened: Israel soldier ‘captured’

Features:

In pictures: Israel-Hamas ceasefire collapses

Are captured soldiers Israel’s weak spot?   James Reynolds

Filmed: (discussed here)

John Kerry ‘Opportunity to find the solution’

‘Escalation’ warning by Israel after Gaza militants ‘seize Israeli soldier’  Mark Regev

Israel to resume Gaza operation as truce with Hamas crumbles  Martin Patience in Gaza

Israel and Hamas 72-hour truce begins   Jon Brain

Israeli soldier ‘captured’ by militants as ceasefire ends  Orla Guerin in Israel

Palestinians return to gutted homes during brief ceasefire  Ian Pannell in Gaza

Gaza militants ‘seize Israeli soldier’ as ceasefire ends  Jon Donnison in Gaza

Hamas blamed by Israel for breakdown of Gaza truce  Yigal Palmor

President Obama condemns kidnap of Israeli soldier

Gaza ceasefire collapses: What fate for talks?   Nick Childs

Gaza crisis: ‘There was never a ceasefire’ – Fatah spokesman  Hussam Zomlot

August 2nd:Chart Aug 2

Written:

Gaza conflict: Hamas denies holding Israeli soldier  (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: New exchanges amid Israeli soldier hunt

Gaza crisis: Israel ‘unlikely to go to talks in Egypt’

Israel PM Netanyahu: Gaza operation to go on

Israel attacks on Gaza ‘foolish’ and ‘disproportionate’ – Ashdown

Features:

Gaza: Mapping the human cost  (later updated and date changed)

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Hamas denies holding Israeli soldier  Jon Brain  (discussed here)

Middle East crisis: Fresh Gaza strikes amid soldier hunt  Martin Patience in Gaza

Israeli forces continue search for soldier missing in Gaza  Bethany Bell in Israel

August 3rd:Chart Aug 3

Written:

Gaza conflict: Missing Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin ‘dead’  (discussed here)

Gaza crisis ‘intolerable’, says Philip Hammond  (discussed here)

Gaza crisis: Deadly strike ‘at UN school in Rafah’  (discussed here)

Gaza crisis: Rafah school strike ‘criminal’ – UN chief

Filmed:

Israel says missing soldier Hadar Goldin is dead   Jon Brain

Gaza conflict: Inside town bearing brunt of Israeli strikes  Ian Pannell in Gaza

Middle East crisis: UN warns of Gaza health disaster  Chris Gunness UNRWA

Gaza crisis: Chaos after deadly strike ‘at UN school’  Martin Patience in Gaza (discussed here)

Gaza crisis: BBC reports from Israeli staging post  James Reynolds in Israel

Gaza conflict: BBC assesses Israel’s military campaign  James Reynolds in Israel (discussed here)

Gaza crisis: Israel says no shells fell inside UN school  Mark Regev

August 4th:Chart Aug 4

Written:

Gaza conflict: Israeli partial ceasefire slows violence

UN right to speak out on Gaza strike, says Cameron

Gaza conflict: France condemns Israel ‘massacre’

Gaza conflict: Israel ‘to pursue campaign’ as truce ends

British national ‘killed in Gaza’

Features:

Gaza conflict: Contrasting views on targeting (discussed here)

In pictures: Faces from Gaza  Jon Donnison

Filmed:

Gaza crisis: Deadly strike at Rafah school  Orla Guerin in Gaza

Gaza-Israel: What Egyptians make of crisis in Gaza Strip  Mark Lowen

Gaza-Israel: Attacks on both sides of border despite ceasefire  Martin Patience in Gaza & Bethany Bell in Israel

Gaza conflict: Reports of strike on Gaza amid truce  Orla Guerin in Gaza

Gaza-Israel conflict: Reports of strike during Gaza ceasefire  Martin Patience in Gaza

Israel: Suspected ‘attack’ on bus with digger in Jerusalem  James Reynolds in Israel (discussed here)

August 5th:Chart Aug 5

Written:

Gaza conflict: Israel and Hamas ‘agree ceasefire’

Israel pulls troops out of Gaza

 Gaza conflict: Truce holding after Israel withdraws

Gaza-Israel video games cause controversy

Baroness Warsi quits as Foreign Office minister over Gaza

Live page:

As it happened: Israel withdraws troops as Gaza truce begins

Features:

Israel’s operation in Gaza may be over, but no victor emerges  Jonathan Marcus

Filmed:

Israel: Digger overturns bus in Jerusalem  James Reynolds in Israel

Gaza truce holds as residents return to destroyed homes  Jon Donnison in Gaza (discussed here)

Gaza-Israel: Palestinian National Initiative calls for end to ‘siege’  Mustafa Barghouti

Gaza: Egypt brokers truce as Israel withdraws troops  Martin Patience in Gaza & Bethany Bell in Israel

Israel Defense Forces ‘are out of Gaza’ – Lt Col Peter Lerner

Gaza conflict: Has the way Gazans view Hamas changed?  Orla Guerin in Gaza (discussed here)

Israel pulls troops out of Gaza  Jon Donnison in Gaza

August 6th:Chart Aug 6

Written:

Gaza conflict: Kerry urges broader Israel-Palestinian talks

Gaza: Israeli-Palestinian indirect talks begin in Cairo

Palestinian arrested over murder of Israeli teenagers

David Cameron faces fresh Gaza pressure

Megadeth and CeeLo Green cancel Israel concerts

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Kerry says both sides must compromise

Gaza conflict: Is Israel’s mission accomplished?   James Robbins

Israeli PM Netanyahu news briefing

Gaza truce: Residents ‘homeless after fighting’  Orla Guerin in Gaza

Gaza crisis: Ceasefire holds on second day  Jon Donnison in Gaza

Gaza conflict: Views from the Israel Gaza border   Wyre Davies in Israel (text amended September 24th)

Between July 28th and August 6th inclusive, the predominant type of report appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page was written articles with a significant proportion of their headlines continuing to use the phrases “Gaza conflict” or “Gaza crisis” as though events were confined to the Gaza Strip. Notably, audiences saw increasing amounts of content relating to statements made by British politicians on the issue. Two live pages also appeared during this period of time and the majority of footage (five reports out of nine) of interviews or press conferences with others (not Israelis or Palestinians) focused on amplifying statements made by various UN officials with UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness being a frequent interviewee.

As was the case in the first twenty days of BBC coverage of the conflict, the total number of filmed reports describing the situation in Gaza promoted between July 28th and August 6th was once again more than double the number of filmed reports describing the situation in Israel and those reports continued to focus on emotive coverage of the effects of the conflict on the civilian population. Notably, the first on camera recognition of the fact that terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip were launching missiles into Israel from residential areas in the Gaza Strip came in an August 5th report – twenty-nine days after the conflict began.

Graph Jul 28 to Aug 6By August 6th, visitors to the BBC News website (and television audiences) had seen 36.5 filmed reports from reporters on the ground in Israel compared to 88.5 filmed reports made by journalists on the ground in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the conflict.

Graph Jul 8 to Aug 6

Themes dominant in BBC reporting during that period were the amplification of Hamas’ pre-ceasefire demand for the lifting of border restrictions and particularly remarkable was the BBC’s adoption of the inaccurate Hamas terminology used to describe those restrictions: ‘siege’. Another theme promoted was that of increased Hamas popularity in the Gaza Strip. The BBC’s policy of ignoring Hamas’ use of human shields continued and incidents such as the deaths of ten people in Shati on July 28th – caused by misfired terrorist missiles – were presented to BBC audiences as “disputed”. The incidents which took place at or near UN schools during this time period were misleadingly presented to audiences as “deliberate”, “criminal” and intentional strikes on civilians. Not for the first time – or the last – the fact that Hamas breached ceasefires was concealed or downplayed.

Related articles:

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part one

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part two

BBC WS ‘Newshour’: a test case for BBC claims of ‘equal coverage’

 

 

No follow up on story which got four separate BBC News reports in one day

Back in the first week of July the BBC News website produced two written reports (here and here) and two filmed reports (here and here) all inReynolds Abu Khdeir story one day on the topic of American teenager Tariq Abu Khdeir who was arrested on July 5th in the Shuafat neighbourhood of Jerusalem during violent rioting following the murder of his cousin Mohammed Abu Khdeir and allegedly beaten by a member of the Border Police.

In addition to appearing on the BBC News website, the two filmed items were also shown on BBC television news programmes and they – together with the second written report – remained on the website’s Middle East page for three consecutive days. In the first of those filmed reports the BBC’s James Reynolds told viewers that rioters “accuse Israel of failing to deliver justice”.

On September 10th it was announced that an indictment had been filed at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court against the Border Policeman in question.  

Notably, that news has not been reported by the BBC despite its considerable prior interest in the story. Significantly too, additional BBC insinuations regarding discrimination within Israel’s justice system from around the same time have also yet to be clarified to audiences. 

 

Reporter in the rubble: what is missing from BBC presentation of structural damage in Gaza?

Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th BBC audiences have seen copious amounts of footage and images of damaged and destroyed buildings and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

Examples of televised reports include James Reynolds in Shuja’iya on August 6th, Jon Donnison in Beit Hanoun on August 5th, Orla Guerin in Khuza’a on August 11th and Chris Morris in Gaza City on July 29th. Listeners to BBC radio have heard dramatic descriptions such as this one by Kevin Connolly from Juhor-ad-Dik on Radio 4 and visitors to the BBC News website have seen illustrative photographs and graphics such as those below by the dozen and read statements such as:

“Approximately 16,800 housing units in Gaza had been destroyed, Mr Serry added, affecting some 100,000 Palestinians.” (“Gaza ceasefire ‘extended by a day’ after Cairo talks“, 19/8/14)

Damage photos 1

(source)

Damage photos 2

(source)

Damage photos 3

(source)

Damage photos 4

(source)

Damage photos 5

(source)

Damage photos 6

(source)

Absent from these BBC reports and the many others relating to the same topic, however, are two very important aspects of context: where and why.   

Most BBC audience members will have no reason to be familiar with the geography of the Gaza Strip. They will therefore be unable to judge to what extent the isolated images they are repeatedly shown by the BBC represent the picture in the whole of the Gaza Strip.Damge heat map

As we see above, the BBC obviously relies on UN OCHA as a source of information on the topic of damaged structures and that organization recently put out a series of maps titled “Gaza Crisis Atlas”. Analysis of those maps published at ‘Israellycool’ – see here and here – shows that the majority of damaged structures are concentrated in specific locations.

“Several patterns are discernible:

The attacks are in no way “random” or “indiscriminate”. One can clearly see the spatial distribution of the damage in several aspects. We find 8,952 of the 12,433 total points (72%) are within a 3 KM buffer abutting the border with Israel. The main objective of Operation Protective Edge was to find and destroy dozens of terror tunnels dug from Gaza into Israel.

That the most intensive damage was caused to the area where the tunnels naturally originated is thus perfectly understandable. Furthermore, of the 4,441 destroyed structures, 3,481 of them (78%) are within the 3 KM buffer, as are 2,531 of 3,303 (77%) of the lowest intensity damage (simple craters), which are mostly strikes on rocket launchers and tunnels.

Most of the attacks are grouped around certain neighborhoods or villages, such as Shuja’iyya, Johur ad-Dik, Sureij, and Khuza’a. These were probably the result of the ground operations that took place in dense urban areas also within the 3 KM buffer that housed multiple tunnel entrances and shafts, as well as launch sites for mortars and rockets.”

Of course another important type of context lacking from most BBC reports is why certain locations were targeted. Some examples of explanations can be seen in the video below.

So why is it that context which is so vital for BBC audiences’ understanding of what they are being shown by the BBC is subject to serial omission? Well, former AP correspondent Matti Friedman has some important insights to share on the topic of Western media coverage which may provide a clue.

“While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. […]

Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians. That is the essence of the Israel story.”

Read the whole article here

 

BBC reports over ten times fewer post-truce missile hits on Israel than actually occurred

On August 9th James Reynolds produced a filmed report for BBC television news which was also promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Violence resumes is [sic] Gaza as truce comes to an end“. Notably, the fact that the truce was broken by Gaza-based terror organisations and that missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilians for several hours before Israel responded is not reflected in that title.Reynolds Shifa 9 8

The synopsis to that report as it appears on the website inaccurately informs BBC audiences that:

“Five rockets have hit in the south of Israel since the ceasefire came to an end.”

In fact, on August 8th – the day before this report was produced – sixty-one missiles were fired by terrorist groups, thirteen of which fell short endangering the local population in the Gaza Strip. Of the dozens of missiles which did explode in Israel, two caused direct hits on houses in Sderot, fortunately causing no injuries. Earlier in the day three people were injured by a mortar in the Sha’ar HaNegev area.

On August 9th – the day Reynolds produced this report – a total of thirty missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip with five of them falling short. By the time this report was posted on the BBC News website (15:32 BST), missile hits in southern Israel had been as follows: [local times]

07:36: four missiles hit Eshkol, one hit Sdot Negev.

10:05: one missile hit Eshkol.

10:59: three missiles hit Eshkol.

12:25: one missile hit Sdot Negev, one missile hit Eshkol.

15:49: one missile hit Ashkelon, one missile hit Eshkol.

16:54: two missiles hit Eshkol.

In other words, the synopsis to this report understates the number of missile hits on southern Israel after the 72-hour ceasefire was broken by terrorist groups at 04:00 and then expired at 08:00 on August 8th by at least a factor of ten.

Reynolds himself says:

“We know from Israel – Israel’s said that it carried out more than thirty airstrikes overnight and it also says that Palestinian militant groups fired at least five rockets from Gaza towards Israel.”

The Israeli sources which Reynolds cites were presumably referring to the five missiles fired early on the morning of August 9th alone, but that is not adequately clarified in this report. Reynolds goes on to show how the BBC relies on Hamas and Hamas controlled sources:

“We’re still trying to find out from Palestinian health officials how many Palestinian casualties there may have been overnight. We have suggestions from the Palestinian media that some people were hurt or even worse in Nuseirat – that’s in the centre of the Gaza Strip – and also in Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip.”

He goes on to further erase from audience view the fact that Israel agreed to an extension of the truce whilst Gaza Strip terrorist organisations breached it four hours before its end and then refused its renewal.

“So I think it’s clear that the 72-hour – that three-day ceasefire that we saw in the week – is over.”

But later on in his report, Reynolds has something very interesting to say.

“…just to explain where we are; we’re at the Shifa hospital here in the centre of Gaza. When you speak to ordinary people here, they feel that this is about the only safe place that there is in this strip of land – this or the grounds of the other hospitals here – because they believe that Israel will not target hospitals. There are actually some families sleeping outside the hospital – again, they believe that they won’t be hit here….”

In other words, the BBC knows that the ordinary people of Gaza know that Israel will not deliberately target a medical facility (or any other civilian target not used for terrorist purposes) and yet it continues to vigorously promote the myth of the targeting of hospitals in allegations made by its own reporters, in allegations made by selected interviewees and in allegations made by the politically motivated NGO Amnesty International which were amplified in two BBC articles on August 8th.

That certainly demands some explaining.  

 

Context-free BBC promotion of Hamas seaport demands

There appears to be a degree of confusion at the BBC with regard to the topic of one of Hamas’ many demands put forward during the current negotiations in Cairo – the demand for a seaport in the Gaza Strip. There is, however, no uncertainty about promoting and amplifying that demand. 

An article titled “Gaza ceasefire ends as Israel reports rocket fire” from August 8th states:

“Palestinian militant organisation Hamas has rejected any extension of the three-day ceasefire in Gaza, which expired on Friday morning.

It said that Israel had failed to meet its demands, including the re-opening of Gaza Harbour to shipping.”

In a filmed report from the same date (“‘We’ve seen and heard a number of explosions here in Gaza’” – notable too for its clear as mud portrayal of what preceded what on August 8th: missiles from the Gaza Strip or Israeli responses) James Reynolds stated:Reynolds 8 8 ports

“Hamas says it’s not yet got anything from those indirect negotiations…ah…in Cairo. It wants an end to Israeli restrictions and ability to use the ports of Gaza and ability…eh…to get people to come and go from the borders.” [emphasis added]

Despite James Reynolds’ use of the plural, there is one small port in the Gaza Strip, located in the Rimal district of Gaza City. Although some attempts to enlarge it were made in 2010 ahead of the ‘Mavi Marmara’ flotilla, the port remains incapable of receiving large vessels and so the accuracy of the BBC’s assertion that Hamas’ demands relate to “the re-opening of Gaza Harbour to shipping” are doubtful.

In fact, what Hamas does appear to be demanding according to most reports is the construction of a new and bigger seaport.

“According to sources close to Hamas, Palestinian envoys in Cairo continue to insist that the blockade on Gaza be fully lifted and that an agreement be reached over the establishment of seaports and airports and the opening of border crossings.” 

“[Hamas official] Al-Rishiq said Hamas would continue insisting on an end to Israel’s siege on Gaza, the release of Shalit-deal prisoners whom Israel has re-arrested, the building a seaport and an airport in Gaza, and the creation of a safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.” 

The Agreement on Movement and Access signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in November 2005 after Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip included provisions for the construction of a new seaport  in the Gaza Strip.

“Gaza Seaport

Construction of a seaport can commence. The GoI will undertake to assure donors that it will not interfere with operation of the port. The parties will establish a U.S.-led tripartite committee to develop security and other relevant arrangements for the port prior to its opening. The 3rd party model to be used at Rafah will provide the basis for this work.”

That project of course did not come to fruition because the party to the agreement – the Palestinian Authority – lost control of the Gaza Strip after the violent Hamas coup in 2007. Hamas of course does not honour existing agreements between Israel and the PA. 

There are two notable points about the BBC’s amplification of this particular Hamas demand on August 8th, with the first being that Egypt had already apparently made it clear to Hamas that the topic of a seaport (and an airport) was off the table.

The second notable point is that the BBC makes no effort to explain to its audiences what this demand actually means: the end of Israel’s naval blockade on the Gaza Strip – introduced in January 2009 in response to Hamas terrorism. Neither is it clarified that there exists a very high likelihood that an open seaport under Hamas control would be used as a route for rearmament and entry of materials for the construction of yet more cross-border attack tunnels similar to the thirty-two recently decommissioned by the IDF.

Yet again, the BBC fails to meet its commitment to “build a global understanding of international issues”.

“The BBC’s journalism for international audiences should share the same values as its journalism for UK audiences: accuracy, impartiality and independence. International audiences should value BBC news and current affairs for providing reliable and unbiased information of relevance, range and depth.”

Israel, of course, cannot agree to an open access seaport run by an internationally designated terrorist organization committed to its destruction and supported and enabled by Iran. BBC audiences though will have no idea why. 

 

BBC’s Reynolds in Shuja’iya: still no reporting on what really happened

The last few weeks of BBC reporting from the Gaza Strip have been characterised by a repeated pattern of much of that reporting taking place during humanitarian truces or ceasefires. One of the earliest and most striking examples of that pattern took place on July 20th in the Shuja’iya neighbourhood where, after hours of fierce fighting, Hamas requested that the ICRC broker a short ceasefire of several hours and after Israel agreed. The Western media – including the BBC – immediately moved in (with or without Hamas encouragement/facilitation) and the result was ample ‘disaster zone’ style reporting of destruction and casualties, but with details of the actual battle completely overlooked. In the weeks since then, no BBC report has properly described to audiences the battle which took place in Shuja’iya neighbourhood and no real effort has been made even to inform them of why a battle took place there.

The latest 72-hour ceasefire is now also being used by the BBC to produce yet more of its ‘aftermath’ reports and one of those – presented by James Reynolds – was aired on BBC Two’s ‘Newsnight on August 6th. In that report too, Reynolds passed up on the opportunity to properly inform BBC audiences why a battle took place in Shuja’iya. He does, however, continue the prevalent BBC practice of making over-dramatic, sweeping and simplistic characterisations of complicated situations.

“Mousa has had leukemia. He still gets treatments in a hospital in Israel. His parents find themselves depending on the same country that bombs their land.” [emphasis added]

“The Shuja’iya neighbourhood was torn up by Israel’s offensive. I want to give you a sense of where we are and of what’s happened here. Israel itself is in that direction where the fields are and for almost a month the Israeli air-force and then the Israeli army carried out strikes across the border here into Gaza. This is the Shuja’iya neighbourhood and the destruction here is immense. Wherever you look buildings have been either hit or they’ve got bullet holes in them. Windows have been blown out and there is rubble all around me. Israel’s army says it went against this neighbourhood because it believed that Palestinian militants were digging tunnels from here to go across the border into Israel and that those militant groups led by Hamas were also carrying out rocket strikes from here. Of course those militants were here. But also when you stand here you realise that many, many civilians will have been hit as well. This was their home.”

From the beginning Reynolds sets the scene by subjectively characterising Israel’s actions as an “offensive”. That of course eliminates from audience view all that came before: the fact that Israeli communities in southern Israel have been under attack for fourteen years, the hundreds of missiles launched by terrorists in the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilians between June 12th and the start of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th and the efforts made by Israel to avoid a military operation, which were rejected by Hamas.

“On Thursday [July 3rd], a senior military official sent an unusual message to Hamas. “Quiet will be answered with quiet,” he told journalists hours after a rocket hit a house in Sderot. “Israel has no interest in escalation. If Hamas reins in the shooting now, we won’t act, either.” “

Notable too is Reynolds’ insertion of the following interestingly worded sentence:

“Israel’s army says it went against this neighbourhood because it believed that Palestinian militants were digging tunnels from here to go across the border into Israel and that those militant groups led by Hamas were also carrying out rocket strikes from here.” [emphasis in bold added]

Shuja'iya map sites

Click to enlarge

But the fact is that the Israeli army did not ‘believe’ that Shuja’iya was the site of tunnels and missile launchers – it knew that for certain. Over 140 missiles were fired from Shuja’iya alone in thirteen days before July 20th and the district was the site of the entrances to no fewer than ten cross-border tunnels. That, of course, is precisely why Israeli forces had to act there.

Although he does admit the presence of terrorists in Shuja’iya neighbourhood, Reynolds makes no attempt to inform his audience of the scale of their operations and infrastructure there. He also neglects to tell viewers that the IDF advised the residents of Shuja’iya to evacuate four days before taking action there. He fails to clarify how that attempt to reduce Palestinian civilian casualties undoubtedly led to a higher Israeli death toll because – as veteran war reporter Ron Ben Yishai explains – that period of evacuation for civilians was used by terrorists to organise themselves ahead of the IDF’s entry into the district.

“Regarding the fighting in Shejaiyya: it is reasonable to assume that the main reason there was so much resistance, was the lack of surprise. Four days prior to entering Shejaiyya, the IDF demanded again and again from the residents to evacuate. Towards the entrance, the IDF started a heavy artillery attack on the outskirts of Shejaiyya. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad, therefore, had four days and a warning of a few hours that the IDF is going in. This is why – as opposed to Hamas fighters escaping to their hiding places when the IDF launched the sudden ground attack – this time they hid traps, prepared anti-tank ambushes and waited for the Golani brigade, tanks and bulldozers to come in.”

Two other themes we have seen energetically promoted in BBC reporting from the Gaza Strip in recent days also make their way into Reynolds’ report. One of those is the theme that this round of hostilities has made Hamas more popular. The BBC of course has no factual, quantified evidence upon which to base that claim, but nevertheless it is being vigorously promoted by all its reporters on the ground, mostly by means of snapshot ‘man in the street’ interviews. The BBC, however, does not make any effort to inform audiences as to how free those people are to say what they really think on camera.

Another theme we have seen promoted intensely on a variety of BBC platforms of late is the Hamas eye-view of its demand to lift restrictions imposed by Egypt and Israel on their borders with the Gaza Strip. Reynolds says:

“For the first time in almost a month people here are able to take some steps back towards a normal life. Here they’re getting money to buy things for their families. But they want so much more than that. They want the ability to come and go from Gaza. The ability to get things in from the outside world and they want Israel to end its restrictions and that is the same demand that Hamas itself is making of the Israeli government in indirect negotiations.”

Like the rest of his colleagues, Reynolds opts for inaccurate, context-free cheer-leading for Hamas’ demands but makes no effort whatsoever to clarify to viewers that the reason for the restrictions imposed by Israel (and Egypt) is terrorism and that “the ability to get things in from the outside world” crucially includes building materials for the construction of more cross-border attack tunnels and missiles from Iran.

Reynolds’ caricature portrayals of border restrictions on the Gaza Strip and the fighting in Shuja’iya hence join an already long list of BBC reports which fail to meet the BBC’s obligations to “[e]nhance UK audiences’ awareness and understanding of international issues”. 

 

Multiple accuracy failures in BBC reporting on two Jerusalem terror attacks

Two security incidents took place in Jerusalem on August 4th. The first was an attack on a bus and a pedestrian by means of a method with which the city is sadly familiar.

“A tractor driven by a Palestinian man rammed into a bus in central Jerusalem early Monday afternoon, close to the “seam” between the western and eastern parts of the city.

A male pedestrian, later named as Avraham Walz, 29, was run over by the tractor as it headed toward the bus and was killed. The tractor driver, identified as East Jerusalem resident Muhammed Naif El-Ja’abis, 23, turned the bus over onto its side during the attack, making several efforts to do so before he succeeded. The bus driver as well as five others were lightly hurt.

Police said the attack, which took place at the end of Shmuel Hanavi Street, near the Olive Tree Hotel, was nationalistically motivated.

A police officer and Prisons Service official who realized what was happening ran up to the tractor and fired a volley of shots at the terrorist as he sat in the cab and killed him, Jerusalem police chief Yossi  Pariente said. […]

The attacker worked at a building site nearby, Pariente said. He said three of those lightly injured were on the bus. He said the quick action of those who shot the attacker “averted a much more serious incident.””

A few hours later a soldier in uniform waiting at a bus stop was shot and seriously injured by a gunman who escaped on a motorcycle.

“The shooting took place on Hanadiv Street, which separates the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz from the Hebrew University. The soldier, 20, was rushed to the nearby Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, where he was listed in serious condition. […]

Jerusalem police chief Yossi Pariente said the soldier was “shot at close range by a man dressed in black,” adding that the shooting was, with “very, very high likelihood,” a terror attack.”

The BBC News website’s coverage of these two incidents began in an August 4th article titled “Gaza conflict: Israeli partial ceasefire slows violence“. The report’s later version includes the following statements:

“In Jerusalem, Israeli police said a Palestinian construction vehicle driver was shot dead after an attack on a bus that killed an Israeli passer-by.

Israeli media later said one person – reportedly a soldier – had been seriously injured in a suspected drive-by shooting in Jerusalem’s Mt Scopus area.”

And:

“In Jerusalem, a construction vehicle driven by a man, identified by police as a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, overturned a bus in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood.

A passer-by was killed and several people were injured before police shot dead the driver.”

The article is illustrated with the following photograph (among others), vaguely captioned:

“One Israeli passerby and the Palestinian driver of an excavator were killed in Jerusalem”

Bus article 1 pic

An additional article appearing later the same day under the title “Gaza conflict: Israel ‘to pursue campaign’ as truce ends” states:

“Two attacks on Israelis were reported in Jerusalem and Israel said militant rocket fire from Gaza had continued. […]

Meanwhile in Jerusalem, a construction vehicle driven by a man, identified by police as a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, overturned a bus in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood.

A passer-by was killed and several people were injured before police shot dead the driver.

Later one person – reportedly a soldier – was seriously injured in a suspected drive-by shooting in Jerusalem’s Mt Scopus area.”

That report includes the following photograph, confusingly captioned:

“An attack on a bus in Jerusalem left an Israeli and a Palestinian dead”

Bus article 2 pic

The first incident was also reported on BBC television news on August 4th by Bethany Bell. The synopsis of that report as it appears on the BBC News website (“Gaza-Israel: Attacks on both sides of border despite ceasefire“) reads:

“Meanwhile, Israeli police said that someone driving a digger overturned a bus in an ultra-orthodox neighbourhood near East Jerusalem. They said that police opened fire and shot the driver.”

Why it was deemed relevant by the BBC to identify the religious persuasions of the residents of the neighbourhood in which the incident took place is unclear. 

Presenter: “We’re also getting reports that there’s been an attack on a bus in Jerusalem just in the last hour: that it was rammed into by a bulldozer. What more do you have on that?”

Bell: “Well the Israeli police say that… erm…someone driving a digger overturned a bus…err…near East Jerusalem. Emm…they say the police opened fire and shot the driver to prevent this incident from continuing and Israeli media are reporting that…emm…at least one person has died in this incident. We don’t have confirmation of that yet…err…but…emm…the police say they are treating this as what they call a terror attack at the moment. They say they’re looking into the identity of the driver.” [emphasis added]

A filmed report on the first incident by James Reynolds appeared on BBC television news as well as on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the interestingly worded and punctuated title “Israel: Suspected ‘attack’ on bus with digger in Jerusalem“. The synopsis to that August 4th report reads:Bus Reynolds filmed

“A construction vehicle has been driven into a bus in west Jerusalem killing a passer-by, in what Israeli police are calling an “attack” which may have been “politically motivated”.

The driver of the digger, identified by police as a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, was shot by police and died at the wheel of the vehicle.

Alongside the one Israeli passer-by who died, several more were injured when the digger hit the bus.”

Reynolds’ account includes an interesting lesson on the BBC version of Jerusalem geography:

“I’m on the edge of Israeli West Jerusalem and a little earlier today a man, we’re told, stole a digger and he drove it towards this main road. You can see the digger – the 2011 yellow Hyundai. As he drove it he toppled over this bus – the 291. Let’s come and have a look here. The police have subsequently tilted it up again. The police at this stage say that they realized that there was an attack going on so the police who were nearby congregated around this excavator or digger. Come and have a look over here. And they shot dead the driver. Just have a look through here; you’ll see the broken glass. Well the driver was killed and the Israeli police say that they believe that this was possibly a politically motivated attack. That’s certainly what the Mayor of Jerusalem has said as well. We know that one Israeli civilian was killed in this attack and three others were wounded. And just to show you where we are in Jerusalem; this is the edges of Israeli West Jerusalem but just over there, beyond the second set of traffic lights, is where Arab East Jerusalem begins. The entire city is administered by Israel itself. A lot of the attention of the conflict has been focused of course on Gaza but right now today, Israel is looking at what happened here.”

The basis for Reynolds’ claim that the digger was “stolen” is not clear: according to numerous local media reports, the attacker worked at a nearby construction site.

“Ja’abis left the construction site in the digger and after travelling some 50 meters hit the bus, said a member of the Israel Police. Three people were lightly hurt when the bus was attacked. He attacked the pedestrian several dozen meters from the bus.”

And:

“The assailant, Naif Jabis of Jabek Mukaber, drove his vehicle out of a construction site, hit a 25-year-old passerby, then turned toward a nearby square, and after several meters used the digger’s arm to flip over the bus.”

The Israeli police of course did not say that the attack was “politically motivated” as Reynolds claims: they said nationalistically motivated – i.e. a terror attack. Reynolds refrains from informing audiences that the attack was later praised by Hamas officials both in the Gaza Strip and in Qatar (though not claimed) and that the perpetrator was known to the police. He also refrains from telling audiences that just days ago Hamas spokesman and frequent BBC interviewee Fawzi Barhoum called for such attacks.

“Do you not have cars, motorcycles, knives, clubs, diggers and trucks? If you do and do not hit Jews or settlers, and do not kill dozen of Zionists – then you are not Palestinian.”

A report appearing on the BBC News website early on the morning of August 5th under the title “Gaza conflict: Israel and Hamas ‘agree ceasefire’” informs readers:

“And in Jerusalem, a construction vehicle driven by a man, identified by police as a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, overturned a bus in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood.

A passer-by was killed and several people were injured before police shot dead the driver.

Later a soldier was seriously injured in a suspected drive-by shooting in Jerusalem’s Mt Scopus area.”

The report includes the following photograph, inaccurately captioned:

“At the same time Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem were burying a man killed in the city on Monday by a Palestinian man who had stolen a bus” [emphasis added]

Bus article 3 pic

The same article also includes a video clip of James Reynolds’ above report, again promoting the unsubstantiated notion of a stolen digger.

“James Reynolds reports from Jerusalem after Israeli police shoot a man who allegedly attacked a bus with a stolen digger” [emphasis added]

Bus article 3 pic 2

An additional report appearing on the BBC News website on August 5th under the title “Israeli troops ‘withdraw from Gaza’” has no written account of the attacks but originally included the same photograph as above with the same inaccurate caption describing a ‘stolen bus’. That photograph has now been removed.

So as we see, apart from Bethany Bell’s second-hand reference (“what they call a terror attack”), BBC audiences have not been informed that two terror attacks took place in Jerusalem on August 4th and some BBC reports even cast doubt on whether an attack took place at all. Additionally, BBC coverage includes unsubstantiated reports of a “stolen” digger along with inaccurate reports of a “stolen” bus and James Reynolds misleads audiences by misquoting the Israeli police as having described the attack as “politically motivated”. The context of previous similar attacks is erased, as is Hamas praise for the latest one.

One can only wonder what these reports would have looked like were the BBC not committed to editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality. 

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