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


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)


US-Israel relations tested by Kerry shuttle diplomacy  Suzanne Kianpour


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


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


In pictures: Gaza hit again after ‘heaviest night’


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


Gaza conflict: Hamas vows no Israel ceasefire

Gaza conflict: UN accuses Israel over Jabaliya attack

Gaza conflict: ‘Israeli market strike kills 17’


Conflicted UN struggles in global peace efforts   Nick Bryant


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


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’


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

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


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’


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


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


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


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


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


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


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’


Gaza conflict: Contrasting views on targeting (discussed here)

In pictures: Faces from Gaza  Jon Donnison


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


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


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


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


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


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’




BBC presentation of the August 1st ceasefire breakdown – part two: BBC television news

In this post we will look at the way in which the breakdown of the August 1st humanitarian ceasefire – breached after 90 minutes by Hamas terrorists who staged an attack on IDF soldiers decommissioning a cross-border tunnel near Rafah – was presented to viewers of BBC television news.

For the timeline of events see part one of this post.

Early on the morning of August 1st – before the humanitarian ceasefire had been breached – viewers of BBC television news saw a report by Jon Brain titled “Israel and Hamas 72-hour truce begins” in its website version. Brain opened that report with more of the BBC’s context-free presentation of casualty figures it has not independently verified.Truce filmed 1

“Released by the Israeli military, this video footage apparently shows an air strike being aborted because Palestinian children were seen moving around on the ground. But many other children have not been so fortunate; victims of a conflict which has now claimed more than fourteen hundred Palestinian lives and displaced tens of thousands of people. Sixty-three Israelis – nearly all of them soldiers – have also died.” [emphasis added]

As we see, the policy of not informing audiences that a proportion of the Palestinian casualties are terrorists and not clarifying that the source of casualty figures is either Hamas itself or politically motivated organisations continues. Later on, Brain comes up with this curious statement:

“For its part, Israel has insisted it won’t end its military operation until tunnels built by Hamas have been destroyed. It claims they’re a direct threat to Israeli security.” [emphasis added]

Apparently the BBC believes it may be possible to have a different interpretation of underground cross-border tunnels constructed by a proscribed terrorist organization which infiltrate the territory of a sovereign country. Brain also informs viewers that:

“Previous ceasefires have been broken within hours.”

Significantly, he does not however inform them that those breaches of previous ceasefires were all carried out by Hamas.

Later on, after the ceasefire had been breached by Hamas, filmed BBC report by Martin Patience was shown to television audiences -“Israel to resume Gaza operation as truce with Hamas crumbles“. As was the case in one of the written reports which appeared on the BBC News website, Patience promotes the notion that:Truce filmed 2

“People here always knew that it [the ceasefire] was going to be shaky, that – yes – there would be violations.”

He continues:

“I think there is surprise, though, that it’s crumbled after just four and a half hours and it seems to have been triggered by that very serious incident down in Rafah. The latest we have from Palestinians are that at least four Palestinian…ah….Palestinians have been killed by Israeli tank fire as you were saying David.”

Did Patience almost slip up there and say “at least four Palestinian militants”?

He adds:

“Israel says that one of its kibbutz [sic] in the southern part of the country had been attacked and it was responding to fire.”

Still later in the day, viewers of BBC television news saw a report by Nick Childs. The synopsis to that report as it appears on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza ceasefire collapses: What fate for talks?” reads:Truce filmed 3

“Palestinian sources said at least 30 people had been killed in an Israeli attack in Gaza on Friday, just hours after a ceasefire was called. A senior Israeli official said Hamas had breached the ceasefire and Israel’s response would be “crushing”.”

The report itself makes no attempt to inform audiences why the humanitarian ceasefire collapsed.

On the evening of August 1st viewers saw a report by Jon Donnison, which appears under the inaccurate and misleading title “Gaza militants ‘seize Israeli soldier’ as ceasefire ends” on the BBC News website. The actions of the Hamas terrorists were in fact what ended the ceasefire: they did not – as this title suggests – occur at the end of the ceasefire. 

Donnison’s report begins in a maternity ward, with a doctor interviewed saying:

“We hope, we hope that Israeli they respect the ceasefire and Palestinian because we have to take a risk for this massacre and this disaster in the Gaza Strip.”

Donnison then moves on to Beit Hanoun, failing to inform audiences that the area has been a major location of missile fire into Israel or to raise the very realistic possibility that some of the damage to buildings his cameraman films extensively may have been the result of the terrorists’ practice of booby-trapping houses: a subject which the BBC has not touched at all in any of its coverage. He goes on to address the topic of the breached humanitarian ceasefire, notably presenting events in an inaccurate order which misleads viewers.Truce filmed 4

“But the ceasefire was over almost as soon as it had started. More Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian rockets. At least fifty Palestinians were killed today; many more were wounded. And then, from Rafah in the south of Gaza, the news that could see this conflict escalate still further. An Israeli soldier suspected to have been captured alive by Hamas fighters after they crossed the border through a tunnel. Israel says one fighter detonated a suicide belt as he emerged from underground. Two soldiers were killed and 23 year-old Hadar Goldin was dragged back into Gaza.”

Contrary to Donnison’s statements, the incident in which 2nd Lt. Goldin was abducted was the event which breached the ceasefire and it took place before any “Israeli airstrikes”. It also took place near Rafah – not, as Donnison claims, on the Israeli side of the border.

Equally inaccurate is Donnison’s later claim that Gilad Shalit was abducted “in Gaza”. That incident did take place on the Israeli side of the border.

“Hamas will see this as a huge result. It took more than five years for Israel to free the last soldier captured in Gaza, Gilad Shalit.”

Another filmed report shown to viewers of BBC television news was produced by Ian Pannell. It also appears on the BBC News website under the title “Palestinians return to gutted homes during brief ceasefire“.Truce filmed 5

Like his colleague Jon Donnison, Pannell fails to provide viewers with the information necessary to provide context to the scenes of damaged buildings shown in his report.

“…but today Gaza woke to news of a ceasefire. The guns fell silent and families cautiously walked back to their homes. This is what they found. Whole neighbourhoods gutted. Israel says it’s self-defence against a terrorist threat. [….]

The houses lie close to the border. Israel says militants built tunnels under the area. But for those who live here, it feels like collective punishment.” [emphasis added]

Pannell’s description of the collapse of the ceasefire starts out accurately from a chronological point of view, but notably he fails to identify the party which initiated the violence, promotes some Hamas propaganda and fails to inform viewers how many of those killed in Rafah were terrorists.

“It lasted just a few hours. After two Israeli soldiers were killed and an officer captured, the ceasefire was over; both sides accusing the other of breaking the truce. More than fifty people were killed in the town of Rafah.”

Perhaps surprisingly, the most accurate timeline of events in any of the filmed reports shown to BBC television news viewers came from Orla Guerin. Her report of August 1st – also inaccurately and misleadingly titled “Israeli soldier ‘captured’ by militants as ceasefire ends” in the version appearing on the BBC News website – opens:Truce filmed 6

“[…] The ceasefire was supposed to last three days. It didn’t last three hours. At half past nine 23 year-old Hadar Goldin was captured in Gaza. The soldier was taken by militants who emerged from a tunnel.”

Getting both the chronology of events and their location right – in contrast to many of her colleagues – Guerin later states:

“Soon after the latest abduction shells rained down in Rafah where the soldier was taken.”

However, Guerin repeats the same inaccuracy which appeared in Jon Donnison’s report regarding the location of the abduction of Gilad Shalit in 2006.

“It took Israel five long years to secure the release of Gilad Shalit – the last soldier taken in Gaza…”

Still later in the report, Guerin visits Kibbutz Kfar Aza and for the first time, BBC audiences hear – albeit very briefly – that not just people in Gaza have been displaced from their homes during this conflict, but Israeli residents of communities near the border too. In contrast to the ample reporting on the topic of displaced persons in the Gaza Strip, the subject of displaced Israelis has not been covered at all by the BBC.

A report by Jon Brain from the morning of August 2nd (“Gaza conflict: Hamas denies holding Israeli soldier“) seems to start promisingly when it presents the abduction and the later fire on Rafah in the correct chronological order. However, that report soon descends into promotion of Hamas propaganda, including an interview with Hamas’ Fawzi Barhoum.Truce filmed 7

“Each side is blaming the other for breaking the truce.”

“However, Hamas claims it has no information about the missing soldier and blames Israel for the renewed violence.”

Barhoum: “The Israeli enemy is the one that breached the truce when Israeli Special Forces entered the eastern side of Rafah. The Palestinian resistance clashed with them and this was our right to defend ourselves.”

Significantly, neither Brain nor any other BBC journalist reporting on this issue bothered to clarify to audiences that the Israeli soldiers who were attacked were in the process of decommissioning one of Hamas’ attack tunnels at the time – in line with the terms of the ceasefire.

As we see from this selection of filmed reports shown to viewers of BBC television news, the majority of them – like the BBC News website’s written reports discussed in the previous post – come nowhere near to informing audiences clearly, accurately and impartially of the event which breached the humanitarian ceasefire of August 1st. That failure is exacerbated by the amplification of Hamas propaganda which only serves to further prevent audiences from properly understanding why this latest ceasefire failed.