No BBC reporting on terror attacks by PA employees

On May 20th the Israel Security Agency announced that it had solved a series of shooting attacks that were carried out in the Ramallah district. As the Times of Israel reported:

“Israel has accused former Palestinian terrorist leader Zakaria Zubeidi of committing several fresh shooting attacks on Israeli buses in recent months, and also indicted him for attacks dating back over a decade that had previously been excused under an amnesty deal, including two murder charges.”

Zubeidi had been arrested along with a lawyer named Tarek Barghout in late February.

The ToI goes on to report that the two were charged in a military court.

“Zubeidi was indicted on 24 separate counts, the earliest of them from 2003. In addition to the recent alleged shooting attacks, he was charged with two counts of intentionally causing death — the military legal system’s equivalent to murder — as well as multiple counts of attempting to intentionally cause death, membership in a terrorist group, weapons sales, firing guns at people and preparing explosives. […]

According to the Shin Bet, the two were responsible for two shooting attacks on buses outside the Beit El settlement in the central West Bank in November 2018 and January 2019, injuring three people in total.”

The BBC did not cover either of those shooting attacks on buses at the time. 

Zubeidi’s history is well known:

“During the Second Intifada, which broke out in 2000, Zubeidi served as the commander in the Jenin region of Fatah’s military wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. He was also suspected of being one of the chief architects of several terror attacks during that time period. […]

Zubeidi, who also helped found Jenin’s Freedom Theatre in 2006, evaded capture by Israeli forces for years, until the Israeli government offered him and several other al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades members amnesty in 2007.

Under the initial agreement with Israel, Zubeidi and the other terrorist operatives who were involved would be granted clemency if they agreed to “give up all violent and illegal activities and abandon the terrorist networks that they’d been a part of,” the Shin Bet said.

According to the security service, Zubeidi’s alleged participation in the shooting attacks outside Beit El represents a “blatant and violent violation of these agreements” and thus negates the amnesty agreement, opening him up to prosecution for his terrorist activities during the early 2000s as well.”

Both men were employed by the Palestinian Authority’s Prisoner Affairs Ministry until their arrest.

“Barghout, who has an Israeli ID card and belongs to Israel’s Bar Association but lives in Ramallah, worked on behalf of the Palestinian Authority until his arrest in February, representing terror suspects in both civilian courts in Israel and military courts in the West Bank. […]

According to the Shin Bet, the pair used Zubeidi’s car in the attacks and in the preparations for them — a vehicle he was given by the PA as part of his work for the Prisoner Affairs Ministry.

“This was a grave act in which a senior member of the Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Ministry and an Israeli lawyer who worked for the Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Ministry carried out serious terror attacks, using a PA car that was used by Zakaria for his work in the ministry,” an unnamed senior Shin Bet official said in a statement.”

Remarkably, BBC audiences have seen no coverage of the arrest and indictment of two Palestinian Authority employees on terrorism charges.

Related Articles:

More context free portrayal of Jenin on BBC Radio 4

BBC R4 airs partisan portrayal of Jenin masked as ‘entertainment’

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – November 2018

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – January 2019







More context free portrayal of Jenin on BBC Radio 4

On March 15th BBC Radio 4 aired an edition of a “contemporary art” programme called ‘The Art of Now titled ‘Dangerous Places’.

As can be seen in the synopsis, all but one of the stories showcased in that programme relate in one way or another to Israel.

“Composer Errollyn Wallen meets some of the artists working in places of conflict, violence and oppression around the world. She hears their personal testimonies and explores why art and music, poetry and drama can sometimes flourish in times and locations of danger and violence.

What use is art in a warzone, and what can these individuals and their work tell artists in more peaceful places about making art that helps us question and communicate?

Cartoonist and free improvisational trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj talks about his work during the 2006 Lebanon war and the problem of exoticising art from warzones. Journalist and poet Bejan Matur describes how living as a Kurd in southeastern Turkey has shaped her work. Actor and educator Ahmed Tobasi explains how Jenin’s Freedom Theatre changed his life, and Mustafa Staiti discusses his work as artistic director of the city’s new Fragments Theatre. Composer Matti Kovler explores the impact of his experiences in the Israeli Defence Forces during the Second Intifada.”

In the first story listeners hear a completely context-free account of the second Lebanon war in 2006. The artist is described as having played “a ragged duet with the bombs falling on his home town” and “playing trumpet on the balcony while the Israeli air force was bombing Beirut”.

“You would see a hundred kids dead or a hundred persons. Then the second day it’s a hundred and seven. Then the third day it’s sixty-seven and you’re almost happy to say oh, it’s less than yesterday.”

How that war began and what was happening on the other side of the border have no place in this story – and neither does the all-important context of the Hizballah HQ in a specific neighbourhood of Beirut. 

The second story’s location is Jenin and Ahmed Tobasi sets the scene by telling listeners that “when Israel was created” his grandparents left their village and “came here to Jenin refugee camp”. No context – such as the invasion of Israel by surrounding Arab states – is provided at all. 

Wallen’s own account of her visit to Jenin is similarly devoid of context.

“On the surface Jenin city and its permanent refugee camp seem quite comfortable. As a privileged visitor you can begin to feel that life here is normal. But then you remember the journey: the separation barrier, checkpoints and soldiers. The watch towers dotting the ancient landscape.”

While Wallen tells listeners that the Freedom Theatre’s director was “assassinated”, she does not clarify that the murderer was a Palestinian. After Tobasi has admitted his membership of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Wallen gives an account of the second Intifada that promotes the notion of equivalence between Palestinian terror attacks and Israeli counter-terrorism measures.

“In 2000 when Tobasi was 15, the second Intifada started: a time of Israeli and Palestinian violence which changed the lives of a generation.”

The fact that Jenin was one of the main centres of terrorism during the second Intifada is not mentioned. All listeners hear of the terrorists from Jenin who blew up Israelis on buses and in restaurants is a feeble reference to “bomb attacks”.

“During the 2002 Battle of Jenin, Israeli forces – responding to bomb attacks – fought to control the Jenin refugee camp.”

Tobasi tells listeners that:

“After the first five days when the 13 soldiers were killed, they went crazy. They start to destroy houses, to let tanks go inside the camp…”

The relevant fact that the terrorists in Jenin had booby-trapped buildings in the camp was not mentioned of course.

Wallen later promotes a context-free, unevidenced story:

“The young people I saw rehearsing in Jenin were making wonderful, vibrant, physical theatre….partly a way of processing things that have happened to them. Things that are terrible and hard to understand. One boy suddenly showed me a phone picture of his friend lying dead in a body bag. He told me that he’d been shot just two weeks earlier by an Israeli soldier”.

Wallen’s one Israeli interviewee is a composer who tells stories from his military service. Thus, having whitewashed the many thousands of Israeli civilians whose lives were permanently blighted by Palestinian terrorism from the picture, she is able to opine:

“For the people I met in Jenin the suggestion of any comparison would be offensive. Their lives are not directly comparable.”

Notably, only her Israeli interviewee has questions to ask of himself.

“Who are we? What are we doing here and do we have the right to do the things that we’re doing? And how to live with all this? Artists of my generation who find themselves very often outside the borders of Israel have to ask themselves these questions”.

As readers may recall, this is the second time in just over a month that Radio 4 audiences have heard a context-free portrayal of events in Jenin during the second Intifada in programmes supposedly about entertainment or art.

Related Articles:

BBC R4 airs partisan portrayal of Jenin masked as ‘entertainment’


BBC R4 airs partisan portrayal of Jenin masked as ‘entertainment’

h/t BF

BBC Radio 4’s entertainment programme ‘Loose Ends’ aired an edition on February 3rd which included a conversation (from 21:05 here) with a guest described by co-presenter Nikki Bedi as “comedian and activist Mark Thomas”.

The purpose of the item was obviously to promote BBC regular Mark Thomas’ latest project which, like some of his previous ones, relates to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Bedi: “But the indefatigable Mark is at it again – raising social and political issues in a funny and thought-provoking piece of theatre. It’s called ‘Showtime from the Front Line’ and let’s talk about the genesis for the show, Mark, because you spent a month at the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied territories – that’s north of the West Bank – and you were trying to set up a comedy club there.”

Thomas began by using the term Palestine to describe a location the BBC’s style guide says should not be described as such and describing a structure that is over 95% fence as a “wall”.

Thomas: “Well what happened was I went to Palestine in 2009 and I walked the length of the Israeli wall in the West Bank. And one of the first places I went to was Jenin which is – as you say – it’s in the north, it’s a rural area, it’s quite poor compared to the rest of the West Bank. And it’s very conservative but it’s very fierce and it’s very proud of its rebelliousness.”

Of course the majority of Radio 4 listeners would not be able to fill in the blanks left by Thomas’ euphemisms and so they would not understand that by “very conservative” he presumably means dominated by Islamist factions such as Hamas. Neither would they be likely to know that “fierce” and “rebelliousness” apparently refer to Jenin’s long history as a place from which countless terror attacks against civilians have been launched, including the Matza Restaurant attack, the 823 bus bombing, the Megiddo junction attack and the Maxim Restaurant attack. Notably, the hundreds of people murdered and wounded in those attacks and many others did not get even a cursory mention in this item.

Thomas went on to recount his 2009 visit to the theatre in Jenin and his meeting with the person who ran it at the time – Juliano Mer-Khamis.

Thomas: “…it’s very volatile, the relationship of the theatre with the camp because there’s all sorts of politics that go on there.”

Interestingly, he refrained from informing Radio 4 listeners that Mer-Khamis was later murdered by a Palestinian.

Nikki Bedi then asked Thomas to describe the Jenin refugee camp.

Bedi: “When you talk about a camp, by the way, can you just give us a picture because I think a lot of people will assume that they’re…they’re living in, you know, structures that could be blown away. And how large…

Thomas [interrupts] “Well they can be blown away and they were in 2002 when the Israeli army came in. But they are buildings. Basically people fled from Haifa and they came to Jenin and they set up there and it’s a really…it’s thousands and thousands of people living in this incredibly dense sort of urban…it’s incredible to be there. It’s just…it’s not like any place I’ve ever been to before.”

Thomas is of course referring in that highlighted sentence to Operation Defensive Shield which was launched in late March 2002 following a series of terror attacks. During that operation the IDF acted in the Jenin refugee camp due to it being a prime base for terrorism. Thomas of course did not bother to tell Radio 4 listeners that terrorists had booby-trapped part of the camp and so the buildings that were “blown away” (less than 10% of the total) were just as likely to have been damaged by Palestinian actions as by Israeli ones.

After talking about the comedy course he ran in Jenin, Thomas turned to the topic of his two fellow actors in the current show.

Thomas: “And what they have to say is hugely complex. We’re talking about people who lived through the second Intifada, who’ve had their homes destroyed, you know…”

The programme’s other presenter, Clive Anderson, then asked:

Anderson: “Are you worried about going into such a complex area? I mean even the terminology of what the country is called…whether it’s, you know, West Bank…”

Thomas [interrupts] “You called it a country, Clive, that’s…that’s a letter of complaint.”

Anderson: “Well exactly. Country, West Bank, whether it’s occupied territory, Palestinians – they’re all areas where somebody’s going ‘oh wait a minute: that’s slightly the wrong terminology’.”

Thomas: “I look at it very, very simply that people confuse Israel and Palestine as a conflict and it’s not a conflict. It’s a military occupation. They’re two very different things. So it’s quite clear for me.”

With no effort made to inform audiences of the history of the area concerned – including its occupation and unrecognised annexation by Jordan, the somewhat obsequious conversation continued:

Bedi: “But you then introduce really cleverly – with great humour, wit, but also in an edifying way – parts of these guys’ history that we wouldn’t know. I mean you make us think of refugees in a different way. What do you want to say?”

Thomas: “What I want to do is confound people’s ideas of what refugees are and to make people challenge their own ideas about how their relationship is with places like Palestine, with people who are refugees…”

While listeners would not of course expect to hear anything other than context-free and partisan messaging from veteran political activist Mark Thomas, they would have expected the two BBC presenters to provide the missing information and context in order to mitigate the severely warped view fed to listeners under the guise of ‘entertainment’.

However, audiences heard nothing of the Jenin refugee camp’s role as a major hub for terror, nothing of the fact that it was established in 1953 while Jordan occupied the area or how that occupation came about and nothing of the fact that the people portrayed as ‘refugees’ have actually been living under Palestinian Authority rule since 1996.

We do however see in this item the continuation of a recent trend in BBC content in which guidance appearing the BBC Academy’s “journalists’ guide to facts and terminology” is ignored:

“…in day-to-day coverage of the Middle East you should not affix the name ‘Palestine’ to Gaza or the West Bank – rather, it is still an aspiration or an historical entity.”

That trend has been apparent on at least three previous occasions (see here, here, and here) since late December and apparently BBC presenters such as Clive Anderson are not sufficiently aware of – or attentive to – the BBC’s own guidelines concerning the use of appropriate terminology in order to adhere to supposed standards of accuracy and impartiality.  

BBC News continues to entrench a narrative by means of omission

As was noted here previously, in BBC News website coverage of the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach in a terror attack near Havat Gilad on January 9th audiences were twice told that “Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the attackers” but were not informed that the Palestinian Authority president’s party, Fatah, also lauded the attack.

Nine days after the attack the security forces tried to arrest the suspected perpetrators in Jenin. One member of the cell escaped, one was apprehended and one killed after they opened fire on the soldiers. The BBC did not produce any reporting on that incident.

Unsurprisingly, BBC audiences also remain unaware of the fact that senior Fatah figures and Palestinian Authority officials subsequently visited the Hamas-affiliated family of the dead terrorist to offer condolences.

“On January 22, 2018, three senior Fatah figures paid a condolence call at the mourning tent erected by the family of Ahmed Isma’il Muhammad Jarar […]. They were Mahmoud al-‘Alul, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee and deputy Fatah chairman; Jamal Muheisen, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee and in charge of the bureau of mobilization and organization; and Dalal Salameh, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee. […]

Before the visit of the senior Fatah figures, Ibrahim Ramadan, the governor of the Jenin district, came to offer his condolences. He was accompanied by several commanders of the PA security forces. He also gave the family the condolences of Mahmoud Abbas.”

The public purposes laid out in the BBC’s Royal Charter oblige it (inter alia) to:

“… provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them: the BBC should provide duly accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming to build people’s understanding of all parts of the United Kingdom and of the wider world. Its content should be provided to the highest editorial standards. It should offer a range and depth of analysis and content not widely available from other United Kingdom news providers, using the highest calibre presenters and journalists, and championing freedom of expression, so that all audiences can engage fully with major local, regional, national, United Kingdom and global issues and participate in the democratic process, at all levels, as active and informed citizens.” [emphasis in the original]

However, for years the BBC has hindered rather than built its funding public’s understanding of and ability to engage in an informed manner with the topic of the Arab-Israeli conflict – and in particular, the ‘peace process’ – by serially avoiding stories relating to the Palestinian Authority and its leadership which do not fit the BBC’s chosen narrative on the topic.

This past month alone we have seen the corporation heavily censor a speech given by the PA president (and reject a subsequent complaint on the topic), fail to report decisions taken at an important meeting of the PLO, refrain from reporting on another history distorting speech made by Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo and – as we see above – ignore Fatah and the PA’s lauding of terrorism.

The result is that audience understanding – and consequently views – are being shaped by omission.

Related Articles:

BBC News airbrushes Fatah praise from report on terror attack

BBC News continues to blame Palestinian violence on US

BBC claims Abbas’ historical distortions and smears not ‘relevant’

BBC News ignores the story of the new Fatah vice-chair



PA glorification of terrorism once again ignored by the BBC

In late May the BBC’s Middle East editor wrote an article summing up the US president’s visit to Israel in which he told BBC audiences that:

“One pointer to a potential difference with Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu came at the museum. In his opening remarks, Mr Netanyahu said that if the bomber in Manchester was Palestinian, and his victims were Israelis, the Palestinian Authority would be paying a stipend to his family.

He was referring to a Palestinian Martyrs’ fund. It pays pensions to people it regards as victims of the occupation, including the families of individuals who have been killed attacking Israelis. There is also a fund to support Palestinians who have been imprisoned by Israel. The Palestinians have compared the payments to the salaries Israel pays to soldiers.

President Trump, in his speech, did not pick up the cue.

After making many warm remarks about Israel, which earned him standing ovations, he said he believed that the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, was serious about making peace.

Senior Israeli politicians and officials in the room disagree. Prime Minister Netanyahu said earlier this year that President Abbas lied to Donald Trump when they met in the White House.” [emphasis added]

As was noted here at the time:

“The BBC’s Middle East editor does not of course bother to inform the corporation’s audiences that Mahmoud Abbas did indeed lie when he stated during that Washington visit that:

“Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace.”

Of course the BBC’s long-standing editorial policy of avoidance of meaningful reporting on the issue of the PA’s incitement and glorification of terrorism – including among children – means that audiences would be unable to fill in Bowen’s deliberate blanks.”

Another recent example of Palestinian Authority glorification of terrorism that has been completely ignored by the BBC came to light last month when the PA dedicated a square in the town of Jenin to the planner of the infamous Ma’alot massacre in 1974 in which 22 children and 4 adults were killed.

After protests, the mayor of Jenin decided to remove the monument but stated that the square would continue to be named after the terrorist. However, after pressure from Fatah and others, the monument was restored, only to be dismantled again by the IDF two days later. A street in another town was subsequently named after the same terrorist.

As PMW reported, not only did the DFLP (the faction to which the terrorist belonged) and Mahmoud Abbas’ own party Fatah continue to protest the removal of the monument but official PA TV also joined the glorification of that terror attack.

The BBC, however, continues to fail its audiences by refraining from providing the readily available information which would enhance their understanding of the involvement of the Palestinian Authority and its ruling party Fatah in promoting violence, incitement and glorification of terrorism.



BBC downplays Palestinian terrorism in Jenin incident report

“Palestinians killed in Israeli raid” was the lead headline on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the morning of March 22nd 2014. The sub-header also omitted any mention of what those Palestinians were doing when the incident which is the subject of the report took place.

“Israeli security forces shoot dead at least three Palestinians during an arrest operation in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.”

Jenin story on HP

The link leads to a short 132 word report titled “Three Palestinians killed in Israeli raid on Jenin“.

The article’s opening paragraph also ignores the actions of the Palestinian casualties.

“Israeli security forces have shot dead at least three Palestinians during a raid to arrest a Hamas member in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.”

Readers have to proceed to the third paragraph (out of a total of six) in order to discover that the incident actually began when a wanted member of a terrorist organization opened fire on Israeli troops trying to arrest him.

“It [the IDF] said he barricaded himself in his home and opened fire, injuring two soldiers, and was then shot dead.”

Via the Jerusalem Post we learn that:

“The terror suspect, Hamas member Hamza Abu Aleija, planned to attack Israelis in the West Bank and Israel, according to suspicions.

“He’s one of the most important terror suspects that we’ve been looking for,” a security source told The Jerusalem Post.”He’s escaped several past attempts to apprehend him.”

As Counter-Terrorism Unit members approached the house to make an arrest, shots were fired at them. The special forces stopped their approach, and the army used loudspeakers to call on all of the residents to evacuate the building.

“Everyone left the home other than the suspect. We ensured there were no family members inside,” the source said. Meanwhile, Abu Aleija continued firing bursts of gunfire at security forces, and Palestinian gunmen from the area arrived at the scene, opening fire on the infantry soldiers who were securing the operation.

The Counter-Terrorism Unit sent a dog into the home, and the animal was shot dead by Abu Aleija.

The wanted suspect then came out of the home, shooting as he went. He struck two members of the Counter-Terrorism Unit, injuring them lightly. The unit returned fire, killing him on the spot. Meanwhile, soldiers securing the operation returned fire at the gunmen attacking them, killing two.”

The wanted man’s name is not mentioned in the BBC report and the only clue given to readers as to why he was being arrested comes in the form of the following terse sentence:

“The Israeli military said it wanted to arrest a man accused of plotting attacks on Israelis.”

According to the Times of Israel, Palestinian sources made the same claimJenin incident

“The IDF said that Abu al-Hija was “wanted for numerous shooting and bombing attacks as well as planning future acts of terrorism.” […]

A Gaza-based media outlet associated with Hamas tweeted shortly after Abu al-Hija’s death that sources said the dead man was “preparing a major operation” against Israel before he was killed.”

Ynet adds:

“Israeli military sources said the attempted arrest followed a months-long pursuit of the fugitive Al-Hija. The IDF surrounded his house Saturday morning after receiving precise intelligence on his location.

Security establishment officials said he was planning terror operations against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers in the West Bank. Military sources said Al-Hija received orders directly from Hamas leadership in Gaza.

Al-Hija had been linked to at least two attacks on IDF forces in the past.”

The BBC report goes on to state:

“A further two Palestinians were killed as rioters attacked the security forces, Palestinian sources say.

The Israeli army reported in a tweet killing four “terrorists” in the clashes while, according to AFP news agency, 14 Palestinians were also wounded, two of them critically.”

Whilst the BBC places the word terrorists in scare quotes, it does not reveal to readers that at least two of the other men killed were members of other terrorist organisations.

“Hamas member Hamza Abu al-Hija, 22, Islamic Jihad operative Mahmud Abu Zeina, 25, and Yazen Jabarin, 22, a member of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Brigades, were killed in the shootout with Israeli forces.”

That information was confirmed by Palestinian sources, as well as by the terrorist organisations themselves.

“Palestinian officials confirmed three militants had been killed, Alhija from Hamas and one each from Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is linked to Abbas’ Fatah movement.”

“In a joint statement, Hamas’ military wing al-Qassam Brigades, Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades threatened a “painful” retaliation against Israel.”

The description of the additional casualties as “rioters” who “attacked the security forces” does not make it sufficiently clear to audiences that the hundreds of attackers were armed with improvised explosive devices and firebombs. It also fails to clarify that at least some of the “14 Palestinians” also wounded in the incident were armed gunmen.

“According to Palestinian sources, several armed gunmen were also in the house, seven of which were injured in the operation and were evacuated to a nearby hospital.”

The overall effect of this BBC report is to mislead audiences by failing to clarify the fact that all three of the men killed in the incident were members of terrorist organisations, by downplaying the actions of terrorists and armed rioters and by placing the focus of attention on the actions of IDF soldiers. That imbalanced and partial presentation is clearly not conducive to accurate audience understanding of the incident.  

Related Articles:

Hamas in Jenin: pictures the BBC will not show

BBC double standards on the term counter-terrorism

Hamas in Jenin: pictures the BBC will not show

On December 18th 2013 the BBC News website published an article pertaining to a counter-terrorism operation in Jenin during which Nafe a-Sa’adi was killed when Israeli soldiers trying to make an arrest were attacked by a mob.

At the time we noted here that the BBC chose to place the term counter-terrorism in scare quotes both in the sub-heading and in the body of the report, suggesting to audiences that there was room for scepticism with regard to the nature and definition of the operation.

“A Palestinian man is killed and at least four wounded after Israeli troops launch a “counter terrorism” operation in the West Bank.”

“Israel said its forces opened fire after being attacked during “counter terrorism activity” in the camp.”

On January 26th a memorial event for Sa’adi was held in the Jenin refugee camp, with armed members of Hamas’ al Qassam brigades making a rare centre-stage appearance. Photographs from the event can be seen here and here.

Jenin 26 1 14

Jenin b 26 1 14

BBC audiences are of course highly unlikely to be shown such photographs or to be informed of the significance of publicJenin appearances by armed members of a terrorist organisation in a Palestinian Authority controlled region which lies within walking distance of the nearest Israeli communities.  

Instead, their ability to form an understanding of the security issues facing Israel – and hence also of any preventative actions taken – is shaped by an editorial policy based upon the patchy reporting of selected incidents (more often than not those involving fatalities) in isolation from the picture as a whole, the omission of any reporting on numerous other incidents and the promotion of a narrative which plays down the existence and scale of terrorism even through choice of language and punctuation.


BBC double standards on the term counter-terrorism

Late on the evening of December 18th the Middle East page of the BBC News website promoted an article under the headline “Palestinian dies in Israeli raid”, with the sub-header reading:

“A Palestinian man is killed and at least four wounded after Israeli troops launch a “counter terrorism” operation in the West Bank.”

HP 19 12 2

The article at the link was titled “Palestinian dies during Israeli raid in West Bank” and much of it seems to be taken from a Ma’an News Agency report.

In the body of the article itself it is written:

“Israel said its forces opened fire after being attacked during “counter terrorism activity” in the camp.”

The unnecessary use of scare quotes around the phrase counter-terrorism both on the Middle East page and in the article itself raises the question of whether that is the result of the BBC not being entirely convinced that an operation to arrest a wanted member of a terrorist organization (in this case, apparently  Hamas) should be described as counter-terrorism, or whether it is the product of the BBC’s well-known aversion to the use of the word terror and its unfortunate habit of describing recognized terror organisations as “militants”. 

Jenin incident

It is no longer possible to provide a link to that article because on the morning of December 19th it was removed and replaced at the same URL by an article going under the heading “Two Palestinians die in W Bank raids”.

19 12 me pge 2

Later on in the day, the article’s profile on the page was raised and a sub-heading added which describes a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a “militant”. 

19 12 me pge 3

The link leads to an article with the same title.

header Jenin & Qalqilya

The bulk of that article relates to a separate incident which took place in Qalqilya on the same evening in which a member of the Palestinian Security Forces was shot after he fired at Israeli soldiers. Qalqiliya 2

After quoting the IDF spokesman on the subject of the circumstances of the incident, the BBC article goes on to present unverified hearsay from anonymous Palestinian sources.

“But an unnamed local Palestinian official told Reuters news agency that Mr Yassin had been killed in cold blood while returning home from work. Local hospital staff said he had been shot in the back.”

As can be seen in photographs accompanying this report from the Ma’an News Agency (warning: graphic images), the latter claim by “local hospital staff” clearly required verification before being repeated by the BBC. 

So, does the BBC employ similar punctuation when it describes counter-terrorism activities carried out in other countries? Well, there are no scare quotes in this report or this report or this report – all from the UK. Neither does such punctuation appear in this report from Northern Ireland in which, notably, the words terrorism and terrorist do appear numerous times.

That certainly requires some explaining. 

Over 42% of BBC report on murdered Israeli soldier devoted to Israeli building tenders

On the morning of November 13th nineteen year-old Israeli soldier Pvt. Eden Attias from Upper Nazareth, who joined the army just a few weeks ago, was travelling on a public bus to his base when he fell asleep. As the bus reached the central bus station in Afula, he was attacked by a Palestinian infiltrator from the Jenin area and sustained critical stabbing injuries which led to his death in hospital shortly afterwards. 

The BBC published a report on the incident on the Middle East page of its website.

terror attack afula

The BBC’s report is 236 words long. One hundred and thirty-five of those words relate to the terror attack itself, although of course as can be expected, the writer refrains from using the term ‘terror’. A further one hundred and one words – 42.7% of the report – are devoted to the subjects of what the BBC describes (for the second time in days) as “faltering peace talks” and building tenders. 

“The violence comes as the US attempts to revive faltering peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Eden Attias (Facebook)

Eden Attias (Facebook)

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a halt to controversial plans for the construction of 24,000 new homes at Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Mr Netanyahu said the plan, announced by his housing minister, had caused unnecessary conflict with the international community at a time when Israel is pressing for a tougher stance on Iran’s nuclear programme.

The US said it had no prior knowledge of the plan, which prompted a Palestinian threat to walk out of the peace talks.”

Interestingly, the BBC apparently has no analysis to offer its audiences with regard to the potential effects of increasingly frequent terror attacks against Israelis on the “faltering peace talks”, preferring to keep attentions focused on the subject of early stage building tenders which are part of a long planning process

BBC misleads again on Gaza’s coastal waters and airspace

On September 17th the BBC News website published an article on its Middle East page entitled “Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank“. Early versions of the article addressed the subject of an incident in Jenin during which Islam Tubasi – a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization – was shot and later died of his wounds. 

A later version of the article – the one currently available to visitors to the BBC News website – was extended to include unsubstantiated claims made by Tubasi’s family. The report also includes additional unrelated information regarding recent measures approved by the Israeli government, including the allocation of more permits to enable Palestinians from PA controlled areas to work in Israel.

However, the background information provided is highly misleading. The article states:

“The West Bank has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967”

Once again we see here an example of the BBC practice of arbitrarily commencing history in 1967. No mention is made of the attack by surrounding countries which resulted in Israel coming to be in control of Judea & Samaria or of the 1948 to 1967 Jordanian occupation of the area. Neither is the reader informed of the status of that area before the Jordanian occupation and the fact that it makes up part of the land intended for a Jewish homeland by the League of Nations. The fact that part of the area has been under the control of the Palestinian Authority for two decades is also ignored. 

The article goes on:

“Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza eight years ago although it maintains control of Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters and restricts movement across its shared border.

Israel says the restrictions are necessary security measures to prevent attacks by Palestinian militants.”

This misleading theme has been frequently promoted by the BBC in the past. The suggestion that Israel unilaterally “maintains control of Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters and restricts movement across its shared border ” – compounded by the sentence which follows it – leads audiences to mistakenly believe that the current status of airspace and waters surrounding Gaza is entirely dependent upon Israeli caprices. 

Under the terms of the Interim Agreement of the Oslo Accords – which were willingly signed by the Palestinian people’s representatives – Gaza’s coastal waters remained Israel’s responsibility. Readers will note that the document does not refer to Gaza’s “territorial waters” due to the fact that they do not border a recognised state  – and hence the BBC would do well to review the accuracy of its use of that term.

Likewise, the same Interim Agreements between Israel and the Palestinians state that:

“All aviation activity or use of the airspace by any aerial vehicle in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip shall require prior approval of Israel. It shall be subject to Israeli air traffic control including, inter alia, monitoring and regulation of air routes as well as relevant regulations and requirements to be implemented in accordance with the Israel Aeronautical Information Publication, the relevant parts of which will be issued after consultation with the Council.”

In other words, the Palestinian Authority – considered by the international community to represent the Palestinian people – agreed to Israeli control of Gaza’s coastal waters and airspace in 1995. No changes were made to those terms in subsequent agreements between Israel and the PA signed after Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. 

Of course the progress of the process of which that Interim Agreement was part ground to a halt in 2000 when the Palestinian Authority elected to begin the second Intifada and hence the agreements signed at the time remain in force. Additionally, agreements relating to the Gaza Strip signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 2005 became academic when the PA lost control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after the violent Hamas take-over there.

Regrettably, the BBC habitually refrains from informing its audiences with regard to Palestinian actions and choices which have resulted in the terms of the Interim Agreement lasting much longer than envisaged at the time, along with the fact that the current status quo is the product of agreements to which the Palestinians’ representatives were willing partners.

For the BBC to imply – as it so often does – that there is something amiss about the fact that Israel controls the coastal waters and airspace of the Gaza Strip is therefore in breach of its own editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality.