Another Hamas cross-border tunnel ignored by the BBC

On March 18th the IDF announced that it had “thwarted an attempt by Hamas to renew an old terror tunnel directed towards the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Israel”. In addition – as reported by the Times of Israel – a separate tunnel that did not cross the border was also destroyed.

credit: IDF

“The Israeli military on Sunday announced that it destroyed two attack tunnels, one that entered Israeli territory and another inside the central Gaza Strip, the latest in a series of underground structures have been demolished by Israel in recent months.

The border-crossing tunnel destroyed early Sunday morning was located in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said. […]

According to Conricus, the cross-border passage destroyed Sunday was an “old tunnel” that was built before the 2014 Gaza war and partially destroyed during the conflict. He said the Hamas terrorist group was trying to “revive” the passage by connecting an intact portion that penetrated Israeli territory to a new tunnel.

The other target, which was destroyed by Israeli fighter jets around midnight on Saturday, was a “subterranean complex” in the central Gaza Strip, according to Conricus.”

The BBC did not cover the story of the discovery and destruction of this latest cross-border tunnel near the Kerem Shalom crossing. Readers may recall that in January the BBC likewise ignored a story concerning another tunnel near the same location.

On October 30th 2017 a tunnel belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was destroyed and while the BBC did report that story, its portrayal of the structure’s purpose was ambiguous. On December 10th 2017 the IDF destroyed a tunnel belonging to Hamas. The BBC did not produce any dedicated reporting on that story and the only mention of it came in half a sentence in an article on a different topic.

In other words, the BBC has ignored two of the four cross-border tunnels (one belonging to the PIJ and three to Hamas) that have been destroyed during the past five months, barely mentioned a third and reported problematically on a fourth.

Related Articles:

No BBC reporting on latest Hamas cross-border tunnel

Palestinian Islamic Jihad clarifies what the BBC did not

BBC News conceals part of a story on Hamas tunnels

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BBC silence on Gaza smuggling continues

In the past we have documented several examples (see ‘related articles’ below) of the BBC’s serial failure to report stories concerning attempts to smuggle goods into the Gaza Strip for the purpose of terrorism.

Another such story recently came to light but it too has not received any BBC coverage.

“Israeli authorities at the Kerem Shalom Crossing foiled an attempt to smuggle into the Gaza Strip explosive components for long-range projectiles hidden inside packages of medical supplies, the Defense Ministry said in a statement Sunday morning.

The explosive material was intercepted by security authorities this past week after crates with containers of medical equipment destined for the Strip were removed and packages inside the containers were taken to a laboratory for additional testing. […]

The materials seized by authorities were then identified as a central component in the preparation of explosive charges and in the high-trajectory projectiles fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip.”

Just last month BBC audiences heard a Hamas official blame Gaza’s poor medical care on Israeli counter-terrorism measures without any challenge from his interviewer. The myth that medical services in Gaza are affected by the blockade is one that has been promoted in the past in BBC content, along with similar fables concerning fuel and the allegation that the counter-terrorism measures are ‘collective punishment’.

“Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade around Gaza aimed at preventing attacks by militants there, though the measure has been condemned by rights groups as a form of collective punishment.” BBC News website, February 13th 2017.

“…the stifling border closures the Israeli government says are for security, the people here say are for collective punishment.” BBC World Service radio, February 1st 2017.

“One of the reasons Gaza’s often described as the largest open-air prison in the world is the difficulty of getting across the border with Israel.” BBC World Service radio, May 19th 2015.

And yet, although it regularly amplifies such inaccurate claims, the BBC at the same time repeatedly refrains from informing its audiences of the stories which would enhance their understanding of why the restrictions placed on the border with the Gaza Strip are necessary.

Related Articles:

Documenting the BBC’s continuing silence on Gaza smuggling

BBC waives another chance to explain why Gaza’s naval blockade exists

BBC News passes up chance to explain why Israeli counter-terrorism measures exist

BBC ignores another story explaining the need for Gaza border restrictions

Gaza terror smuggling again not newsworthy for the BBC

 

 

 

Stats defy the BBC’s repeated portrayal of a ‘siege’ on Gaza

When, in the summer of 2014, the BBC began describing the counter-terrorism measures employed by Israel along its border with the Gaza Strip as a “siege” we noted that the definition of that term is “a military operation in which enemy forces surround a town or building, cutting off essential supplies, with the aim of compelling those inside to surrender” and commented:

“A besieging army does not ensure and facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid including food and medical supplies to those it surrounds. It does not supply them with 50% of their electricity supply, with oil and diesel or with cooking gas. It does not help them export their produce and give their farmers agricultural training. It does not evacuate their sick and treat them […] in its own hospitals.”

The use of that inaccurate terminology is however still evident in BBC content – both by unchallenged interviewees and by BBC journalists. For example:

“Gaza’s economy is definitely not able to support a population of 1.7 million people but that’s because of the siege imposed by Israel and Egypt.” (Jeremy Bowen, BBC Radio 4, 19/7/14)

“And I have to say – and this is one of the oddest things – from the decrepit heart of a half-destroyed city in a besieged and blockaded enclave, sometimes described as the biggest open air prison in the world, comes the best ice cream I have ever tasted.” (Roger Hearing, BBC Radio 4, 18/6/15)

“I had attended the war in Gaza in 2012. I’ve been working there for about the last five years and while I was there we had patients coming in – no equipment because the siege has gotten so bad even though it’s medical equipment – and we had to listen to patients’ chests by putting our ears to their chests…” (Tarek Loubani on ‘Newshour‘, 16/8/15)

“These people who suffered these wars and siege are now in rows having popcorn and watching [a movie that] reflects the Palestinian situation,” Mr Abu Saleh said. […] ‘The project is very important… because it is considered as one of the ways to break through the siege that has been forced on Gaza for 10 years’.” (Hugo Bachega, BBC News website, 8/4/16)

“‘The war’s over but the war-like situation is still going on’ he tells me. ‘The siege goes on, we’re still prisoners. The quality of life gets worse’.” (Yolande Knell, ‘From Our Own Correspondent’, 22/7/17)

“Of course life for ordinary people in Gaza is under tremendous pressure at the moment because it’s almost ten years of siege… […] I think what needs to be looked at is the whole siege of Gaza and I think that will require much more international determination both from the West and from the Gulf countries and Egypt to sort of say to Israel ‘look, it’s not in your interest to keep the siege going’.” (Oliver McTernan on ‘Newshour‘, 17/9/17)

“Hamas is also suffering because not easy now to rule Gaza and the policy of the political isolation from the international community, from the blockade and siege on Gaza from the Israeli occupation…” (Ghazi Hamad on ‘Newshour‘, 17/9/17)

“The siege for a long time destroyed our medical, our social, our economic life and nobody is interested about human rights where 2 million Palestinian people are living in this area.” (Mahmoud Zahar on ‘Hardtalk‘, 8/1/18)

On January 24th Israel’s Ministry of Defence published a summary of its Crossings Authority’s activity during 2017. In the section relating to the Kerem Shalom crossing the report states:

“The movement of Israeli goods that entered Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing grew and reached some 160 thousand lorries. The peak of the year was recorded in April when in one day over 1,000 lorries carrying goods crossed the crossing.”

The report also states that in 2017 there was a rise of 15% in the amount of goods transported and in the number of people using the various crossings to the Gaza Strip and Judea & Samaria administered by the authority, with 15 million crossings by Palestinians recorded.

Obviously a media organisation seriously committed to accurate and impartial reporting would not portray, or facilitate portrayal of, 160,000 truckloads of supplies in one year as a “siege”. The BBC, however, continues to do just that.  

Related Articles:

BBC fails to produce follow-up reporting on Gaza power story

No BBC reporting on latest Hamas cross-border tunnel

No BBC reporting on latest Hamas cross-border tunnel

On January 14th the IDF announced the destruction of yet another cross-border tunnel running from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Unusually however, this latest tunnel – originating in the southern Gaza Strip – also reached Egyptian territory.

“The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday said it had destroyed a border-crossing Hamas attack tunnel, the third in recent months, that penetrated hundreds of meters into both Israeli and Egyptian territory from the Gaza Strip, in an airstrike in southern Gaza on Saturday night. […]

According to [IDF spokesperson Lt-Col] Conricus, the tunnel was dug in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, some 900 meters from Israel, and extended 180 meters into Israeli territory.

On the other end, it also extended hundreds of meters into Egypt, which could have allowed fighters in Gaza to attack Israeli positions from the Sinai Peninsula, he said.

Asked if the tunnel could have functioned as both a smuggling and attack tunnel, the army spokesperson responded, “It could have, but we deal with the infrastructure.””

Significantly, the tunnel ran under the Kerem Shalom crossing.

“The tunnel, which the army said belonged to the Hamas terror group that controls the Gaza Strip, ran underneath the Kerem Shalom Gaza crossing, as well as below major gas and diesel pipelines, spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told reporters Sunday. […]

The Kerem Shalom Crossing routinely sees hundreds of trucks transporting medicine, food and drink into the Gaza Strip each day and acts as a major source of humanitarian aid to the beleaguered coastal enclave, which is subject to a blockade by both Israel and Egypt. Israel maintains the blockade to prevent terror group Hamas from importing weaponry. […]

“We know it’s a terror tunnel because it passes under different strategic assets,” Conricus said, referring to its proximity to the fuel pipelines into Gaza, the Kerem Shalom Crossing and a military installation nearby.

According to IDF figures, in 2017, over half a million tons of food entered the Strip through Kerem Shalom, along with 3.3 million tons of construction equipment and 12,000 tons of agricultural equipment.”

Despite both the threat to humanitarian supplies and fuel for civilians in the Gaza Strip and the significance of the fact that the tunnel reached Egyptian territory, the BBC chose not to report the story at all.

This is the third cross-border tunnel that the IDF has destroyed in the past two and a half months. On October 30th 2017 a tunnel belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was destroyed and while the BBC reported that story, its portrayal of the structure’s purpose was ambiguous. On December 10th 2017 the IDF destroyed a tunnel belonging to Hamas. The BBC did not produce any dedicated reporting on that story and the only mention of it came in half a sentence in an article on a different topic.

Now we see that the BBC – which has long under-reported and downplayed the subject of tunnels constructed by Hamas and other terror organisations – has chosen to completely ignore the story of Hamas’ construction of a structure breaching the sovereign territory of two neighbouring countries.

Related Articles:

BBC News conceals part of a story on Hamas tunnels

BBC News report on Gaza tunnel equivocal about its purpose

Jerusalem terror attack gets 21 words of BBC coverage

Comparing BBC reporting on ISIS and Hamas tunnels

 

 

 

 

Gaza terror smuggling again not newsworthy for the BBC

Earlier this month BBC One viewers heard Andrew Marr portray Israeli counter-terrorism measures along the border with the Gaza Strip as follows (at 05:45 here) during an interview with the Israeli prime minister:

Marr: “Now what is also clear, however, is that your policy for Gaza is not working: the policy of having a kind of cordon around Gaza, restricting what can come in and out – a kind of blockade of Gaza – has actually increased the power of Hamas in Gaza and mobilised the population behind Gaza because of the appalling human rights situation inside Gaza. This policy is simply not working.”

As has been noted here on many occasions, the BBC’s portrayal of that topic is usually at best superficial and at worst misleading and politically motivated. In the past audiences have seen or heard restrictions on the movement of people and very specific materials in and out of the Gaza Strip inaccurately described as “collective punishment” or a “siege”.

“Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade around Gaza aimed at preventing attacks by militants there, though the measure has been condemned by rights groups as a form of collective punishment.” BBC News website, February 13th 2017.

“…the stifling border closures the Israeli government says are for security, the people here say are for collective punishment.” BBC World Service radio, February 1st 2017.

“One of the reasons Gaza’s often described as the largest open-air prison in the world is the difficulty of getting across the border with Israel.” BBC World Service radio, May 19th 2015.

However, beyond the ‘Israel says’ mantra, BBC audiences rarely hear about the reasons why restrictions placed on the border with the Gaza Strip are necessary because Hamas terrorism is consistently ignored, downplayed or erased – with the result being that BBC audiences are therefore ill-equipped to put portrayals such as the one by Marr into their appropriate context. 

Another story which would help BBC audiences understand the real reasons for counter-terrorism measures, including restrictions on the entry of weapons and dual purpose goods into the Gaza Strip, recently came to light.

“An Israeli laboratory at the Kerem Shalom Gaza crossing recently thwarted an attempted smuggling of several tons of explosive substances that were headed for terror groups in the strip.

The lab, which was recently established at the crossing at the behest of the Land Crossings Authority in the Ministry of Defense, was called into action after a truck arrived at the area that was carrying what was said to be a large load of car oils.

Guards conducting the security checks grew suspicious of the truck’s content, and transferred specific oil types to the lab for further investigation, where it transpired that the oils were not intended for car engines, but were rather dangerous substances intended for the production of large quantities of explosive devices.”

The BBC – which is of course committed to helping its funding public understand “the world around them” – has so far ignored this story, thereby passing up yet another opportunity to help its audiences understand why Israel’s counter-terrorism measures are necessary – even as it continues to focus their attentions on the “appalling human rights situation inside Gaza”.

Related Articles:

Documenting the BBC’s continuing silence on Gaza smuggling

BBC waives another chance to explain why Gaza’s naval blockade exists

BBC News passes up chance to explain why Israeli counter-terrorism measures exist

BBC ignores another story explaining the need for Gaza border restrictions

 

Selective BBC framing of Hamas-Fatah ‘reconciliation’ continues

The November 1st afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included an item (from 19:18 here) described by presenter Razia Iqbal as follows:

Iqbal: “Let’s stay with Palestinian issues now and specifically Gaza, which has been controlled for the last decade by the Islamist group Hamas. Now Hamas has begun handing control of the border crossings with Egypt and Israel back to the Palestinian Authority which controls the rest of Palestinian territory. This is part of a reconciliation deal negotiated in Cairo last month between Hamas and Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority. I’ve been finding out more from our correspondent in Jerusalem Tom Bateman.”

Tom Bateman began by describing the ceremony at Rafah crossing on that day, then telling listeners that:

Bateman: “However, that crossing remains effectively completely closed and at the crossings with Egypt [sic – he apparently meant Israel] the very heavy restrictions remain in place. However, what has happened there is the dismantlement of the Hamas checkpoints there so when you cross between Israel and Gaza there is the Israeli side – the security there – and also the Hamas checkpoint. But the two sides obviously do not talk to each other so there’s always been a small PA checkpoint in between them. Now that checkpoint becomes the main checkpoint for the Palestinian Authority.”

In his response to a question from Iqbal about how the lives of people in Gaza are expected to change because of this hand-over of control of the Palestinian side of crossings from Hamas to the PA, Bateman suggested that it might lead to changes in Israeli policy.

Bateman: “But of course over time there is some hope that perhaps it may see restrictions eased and then of course that blockade on the Gaza Strip perhaps begin in some way to lift. Time will tell.”

What Bateman described as “that blockade” is of course restriction on the import to Gaza of weapons and dual-use goods that was introduced after Hamas’ violent coup in the Gaza Strip due to the need to protect Israeli citizens from Hamas terrorism.

The trouble is that nowhere in this report did either Bateman or Iqbal clarify to listeners that Hamas is a designated terror organisation that is very frank about its persistent aim to destroy the Jewish state by means of violence. Even when Bateman briefly touched on the topic of Hamas disarmament at the end of the item, he failed to inform listeners that since the announcement of the ‘reconciliation deal’ between Fatah and Hamas, various officials from the terror group have repeatedly clarified that no such step will be taken.

Bateman: “But over time the very big stumbling block – and what’s been the big problem in the past – is over the control of weapons; over Hamas’ armed wing…ah…with the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas saying, you know, there will be one law, one authority and one gun. But of course many people doubt whether full disarmament, you know, will take place.”

Neither did Bateman bother to explain to listeners that the failure to disarm Hamas will put the Palestinian Authority in breach of both its existing agreements with Israel and the Quartet Principles.

Since the story of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation first broke in mid-September, none of the BBC’s numerous reports concerning that topic have provided its audiences with a proper explanation of why Hamas must be disarmed if the PA is to meet its existing obligations.  Neither have any of those reports on a variety of BBC platforms included coverage of statements by Hamas officials clarifying the terror group’s refusal to disarm its militias and its intention to continue attacks against Israel.

As this latest report by Bateman once again indicates, the BBC’s failure to provide its funding public with the full range of information needed to properly understand this story is obviously not a matter of chance omission but of deliberate framing.

Related articles:

BBC News continues to conceal Hamas refusals to disarm

BBC adds superfluous punctuation to US and Israeli statements on Hamas

BBC News continues to mislead on Gaza electricity crisis

BBC News sidesteps the topic of Hamas disarmament yet again

Superficial BBC reporting on Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’ returns

BBC policy of ignoring Gaza smuggling continues

More attempts to smuggle restricted items into the Gaza Strip were thwarted last week.

Photo credit: Ministry of Defense, Twitter

Photo credit: Ministry of Defense, Twitter

“The Crossing Security Services Authority in the Defense Ministry thwarted an attempted smuggling into the Gaza Strip of commando knives on Tuesday.

The discovery of the knives was made by the authority and the Shin Bet at the Kerem Shalom border crossing on the Strip’s Egypt-Israel border on a shipment of plumbing tools.

 Two crates, concealed between different plumbing tools, were found to contain the professional commando knives, 30cm in length.”

In addition:

“Officials also recently intercepted a shipment destined for the Palestinian electric company in Gaza containing concealed graphite strips, the Government Press Office said in a statement, noting the raw material is often used to make rocket fuel.”

As has consistently been the case for many months (see ‘related articles’ below), there was no BBC coverage of these latest smuggling attempts.  That of course means that when the BBC states (as it frequently does) that “Israel says” that the restrictions on the import of weapons and dual-use goods into the Gaza Strip are for reasons of security, audiences have an insufficient understanding of the background and the facts to be able to put that statement – and the restrictions themselves – into the correct context.  

Related Articles:

Hamas terror cash shoes not news for the BBC

Gaza terror smuggling again not newsworthy for the BBC

Smuggling of rocket fuel to Gaza thwarted: BBC yawns and ignores

Celeb wedding makes front page BBC news but terror doesn’t

Israel seizes chemicals bound for Gaza – BBC yawns

BBC silent on latest Gaza Strip smuggling attempt

 

 

 

 

BBC News misleads audiences on UN food aid to Gaza Strip

h/t DS

On August 27th the BBC News website published an article titled “Gaza conflict: Israeli PM Netanyahu says war was ‘victory’” on its Middle East page. The report opens with various statements from a press conference held by Israel’s prime minister before stating in its seventh and eighth paragraphs:

“On Wednesday, the UN’s World Food Programme said one of its convoys had entered Gaza for the first time since 2007, carrying enough food to feed around 150,000 people for five days.

Fishing boats also ventured out to sea as restrictions were eased.”

Now of course most readers would understand those words to mean that the UN’s World Food Programme has not been able to supply people in the Gaza Strip with food aid since 2007. Given that the report’s previous sentences relate mostly to statements made by the Israeli prime minister and the subsequent sentence uses the words “also [….] as restrictions were eased” in relation to the fishing zone, readers might well also assume that the fact that a WFP convoy had not been able to enter the Gaza Strip since 2007 had something to do with restrictions implemented by Israel.

However, as readers who took the time to click on the link would see, the BBC actually left out two very significant words in its paraphrasing of the World Food Programme statement.

“For the first time since 2007, a humanitarian convoy of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) successfully crossed from Egypt into the Gaza Strip today, carrying enough food to feed around 150,000 people for five days.” [emphasis added]

But still, perhaps this is the first time since 2007 that the WFP has been able to provide food to people in the Gaza Strip? Well, no: it has been doing so throughout the recent hostilities and long before.

So how did it manage that if its convoys have been unable to enter the Gaza strip via the Rafah crossing since 2007? Via the Israeli-operated Kerem Shalom crossing, of course. [emphasis added]Kerem Shalom

“Kerem Shalom allows the transfer of hundreds of trucks daily carrying goods sent by the Red Cross, UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), the UN World Food Program (WFP), the Ministry of Health of the Palestinian Authority as well as Palestinian and independent traders. The transfer was carried out in coordination with the Israeli government, the IDF and the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

Every day, between 250 and 280 trucks pass through the crossing, carrying over 6,000 tons of goods, mainly medical supplies and food, according to a list developed by involved international organizations.”

Wouldn’t it have been simple for the BBC to avoid misleading audiences by just adding those two words “from Egypt” and pointing out that WFP food aid enters the Gaza Strip regularly via Israel? 

And – whilst we’re on the topic of humanitarian aid – here’s an allegation any BBC correspondents still left in the Gaza Strip might perhaps like to investigate: “Fatah blasts Hamas for stealing humanitarian aid during Gaza operation”. 

“Fatah also accused Hamas of confiscating food and medicine sent to the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and other countries. It said Hamas distributed the aid among its men in mosques and sold some of it in the black market.”

Whilst previous experience shows that this may not be an entirely new story, it is surely one which would be of interest to members of the British public who responded to the BBC’s advertisement of the DEC charity appeal.  

BBC News’ blockade backgrounder not fit for purpose

With disturbing frequency we have noted here during the past few weeks many examples of BBC reporting which are in fact part and parcel of the corporation’s ongoing advocacy campaign in support of Hamas’ demand to lift border restrictions and the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.

In none of those reports were BBC audiences given a clear, accurate and factual picture of the nature of restrictions themselves and at no point has the BBC explained that what brought about, and sustains, that Israeli policy is terrorism against Israeli civilians emanating from the Gaza Strip.

On August 13th those repeated failures to accurately and impartially inform BBC audiences were further exacerbated by the appearance of an item on BBC television news and on the BBC News website purporting to provide background information on the topic.

With the Yezidi community currently under existential threat in Iraq and the death-toll in Syria continually passing ever more tragic milestones, the BBC’s description of border restrictions on the Gaza Strip as an element of the “Mid-East crisis” can only be interpreted as a reflection of its priorities and vision. “Mid-East crisis: The blockade of Gaza – in 60 seconds” was produced by Michael Hirst of the BBC News website and in that backgrounder viewers are presented with a series of captioned images.60 seconds blockade filmed

1. “Blockade strengthened after Hamas militants took over Gaza Strip in 2007”

Yet again the BBC fails to clarify that the June 2007 Hamas coup itself was not the prime reason for tightened border restrictions but the subsequent rise in terror attacks against Israeli civilians which caused the Israeli security cabinet to declare the Gaza Strip hostile territory in September 2007. Clearly audiences cannot hope to understand this issue fully as long as the BBC continues to erase the topic of Hamas terrorism from the picture.

2. “Israel controls border crossings…”

All governments of course have an obligation to provide security for their citizens and a border with a territory ruled by an internationally proscribed terrorist organization is clearly going to demand stringent control, but the BBC manages to make Israeli actions sound exceptional and unreasonable.

3. “…and enforces sea blockade”

The all-important context of weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip by sea is erased from the picture presented to BBC viewers.

4. “Egypt controls its crossing (Rafah)”

Again – it is Egypt’s right and responsibility to do so.

5. “Egypt’s leaders oppose Hamas”

Notably the crucial context of Gaza Strip-based terrorism in northern Sinai is not mentioned.

6. “Imports are controlled by Israel”

Only imports via Israel are controlled by Israel (not those coming through Egypt) and all imports are permitted with the exception of weapons and a specific list of dual-use goods which can be used for the purposes of terrorism.

7. “Sometimes only basic supplies are allowed in”

During times of hostilities such as the present, when the Kerem Shalom crossing is often attacked by terrorists and its staff thus endangered, entry of goods to the Gaza Strip may be limited to aid, medical supplies and basic goods, with non-essentials such as cars or washing machines given a lower priority. Normally the entry of goods is a function of demand from Gaza-based businesses.

8. “Building materials are severely restricted”

The only restricted items are those same dual-use goods which can be appropriated for terrorism purposes. Even they can be imported into the Gaza Strip if the construction project is guaranteed by an international body to be for civilian purposes only.

9. “UN says concrete and steel are vital for reconstruction”

Again, civilian projects guaranteed by an international body can import the necessary materials.

10. “Israel says Hamas uses them to build tunnels and bunkers”

One would think that the BBC would have seen enough evidence recently – including with its own journalists’ eyes – to make the use of the caveat “Israel says” superfluous to that statement. Remarkably, the BBC has shown no interest whatsoever in investigating the issue of the methods and route of appropriation of construction materials for the purpose of building those cross border attack tunnels or in reporting on the civilians projects which did not come into being in the Gaza Strip because of the commandeering of those materials. 

11. “Gaza exports are restricted”

There is no restriction whatsoever on exports abroad. Israel in fact helps farmers in the Gaza Strip to bring their produce to international standards and to export it, for example, to Europe.

12. “UN: one truck per day allowed out in 2013”

As the relevant monthly reports show, from February 2013 to December 2013 inclusive (the data for January 2013 is not available), a total of 560 truckloads of exports left the Gaza Strip in 334 days. Clearly that UN claim repeated by the BBC is inaccurate. Most of the exports from the Gaza Strip are agricultural and therefore seasonal in nature. Thus we see, for example, that in February 2013 a total of 109 truckloads of exports left the Gaza Strip.

13. “UN: 57% of Gaza households are ‘food insecure'”

That isolated statistic is of course of no use to BBC audiences and notably they are given no information regarding the political agenda of its supplier. Viewers have no way of comparing that figure with food insecurity in other parts of the world or with previous years before border restrictions had to be implemented because of Hamas’ policy of both itself engaging in terrorism and permitting other terrorist organisations to do so from territory it controls.

In summary, this backgrounder is doubly problematic in that it provides BBC audiences with inaccurate information on the one hand whilst failing completely to supply the vital context concerning the terrorism which is the cause of border restrictions and the naval blockade on the other.

As an attempt to meet the BBC’s obligation to provide audiences with information which will enable them to understand “international issues” it is neither use nor ornament. As part of the BBC’s continuing campaign to amplify and promote the current Hamas agenda, this backgrounder definitely fulfils its purpose. 

 

 

BBC’s Gaza border restrictions campaign continues: the Yolande Knell edition

Three days after Wyre Davies’ visit to the Kerem Shalom border crossing for commercial goods between Israel and the Gaza Strip, the BBC apparently decided that its viewers had not heard anywhere near enough misleading, context-free and inaccurate descriptions of the situation at that crossing and so it sent Yolande Knell to report from the same place.Knell 11 8 Kerem Shalom

Notably, Knell’s August 11th report – which, in addition to being broadcast on BBC television news programmes, also appears on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza conflict: Families return home as Gaza ceasefire holds” – makes no mention of the fact that the previous day the crossing through which all goods and humanitarian aid enter the Gaza Strip had to be closed because of missile fire by terrorists (caught on CCTV cameras here) which endangered the safety of its workers.

Knell opens with her version of the standard BBC messaging:

“Supplies rolling into Gaza today, coming across the border from Israel. Most of this is bought by Palestinian businesses. And there’s aid too, but the Israelis impose tight controls. Almost no exports leave here. Now, with talks about a longer term ceasefire deal back on in Cairo, maintaining Israel’s security and lifting Gaza’s blockade are the key demands. These lorries are bringing goods into Gaza from Israel’s only commercial crossing point which is just down the road. Palestinians want it to be open more fully so they can trade effectively.”

As was pointed out here only recently, the Kerem Shalom crossing does not currently work at full capacity because there is no demand for it to do so from the Palestinian side. Should demand rise, the crossing is capable of working three shifts a day.

“Israel has invested 80 million ₪ [shekels] to expand Kerem Shalom to accommodate up to 450 trucks daily. However, due to demand on the Palestinian side, the average number of trucks that enter Gaza each day remains between 300- 350.” [emphasis added]

And what of Knell’s claim that “almost no exports leave here”? She makes no attempt to inform viewers how she quantifies “almost no” or to what period of time she refers, but before the current hostilities exports of agricultural produce were leaving the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing as can be seen in the weekly reports produced by COGAT. Most importantly, Knell fails to inform audiences that not only does Israel not place any restrictions on the export of produce abroad, it actually helps farmers in the Gaza Strip to export their vegetables and flowers, for example, to Europe.

Knell’s claim that “the Israelis impose tight controls” is of course a woefully inadequate and misleading representation of the situation. She fails to inform viewers that the only import restrictions are on weapons and dual-use goods which can be used for the purposes of terrorism – surely a highly pertinent point of background information given that less than a month has passed since the discovery of Hamas’ thirty-two cross-border attack tunnels. Also in line with the usual BBC policy, Knell neglects to inform audiences why restrictions were imposed in the first place and her presentation predictably fails to include the word terrorism at all, meaning that viewers are herded towards the misunderstanding that border restrictions are the product of some sort of Israeli vindictiveness rather than a means of trying to protect Israeli civilians by curbing the flow of arms and other materials for terrorist activity into the Gaza Strip.

Likewise, Knell’s portrayal of the situation at the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt also fails to inform viewers of the reasons for restrictions imposed by Egypt.

“And then behind me you have the Rafah crossing point with Egypt. It’s been mostly closed to travelers for the past year. But Palestinians say it should be Gaza’s gateway to the world. Currently, only those with foreign passports or residency can leave to Egypt.”

It is more than obvious that the BBC has taken upon itself to amplify Hamas’ demands concerning the restrictions on its borders with Egypt and Israel and audiences are now seeing daily reports on the topic which all promote the exact same messaging. However, not one item of BBC content has properly clarified to viewers that it was Hamas terrorism which made it necessary to impose those restrictions in the first place or what the consequences of a relaxation of restrictions are likely to be.

The BBC’s correspondents are not incompetent: they know exactly when and why those border restrictions were brought in and they are well aware of the fact that Hamas’ demand to lift restrictions stems not from any concern for the welfare of the people of Gaza, but from the dual need to be able to present an achievement as justification for initiating the recent hostilities and to be able to rearm for the next round.

Charged as they are with the responsibility of meeting the BBC’s obligation to “build a global understanding of international issues”, the consistent refusal of BBC journalists to present this highly topical issue to their audiences comprehensively, accurately and impartially is obviously a cause for very serious concern.