BBC News report on Gaza tunnel equivocal about its purpose

On October 30th the IDF carried out a controlled explosion on a cross-border attack tunnel running from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.

“The military said the tunnel had been under surveillance for an extended period of time and was under active construction at the time of the demolition.

The tunnel, which the IDF described as a “grave and unacceptable violation of Israeli sovereignty,” started in the Gazan city of Khan Younis, crossing under the border and approaching the Israeli community of Kibbutz Kissufim, the army said.

“The tunnel was detonated from within Israel, adjacent to the security fence,” the military said in a statement.

IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the tunnel was approximately two kilometers away from the Israeli kibbutz. […]

The demolition was carried out near the fence separating Israel from Gaza.”

In the hours that followed it emerged that a number of operatives from the terror groups Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas had died.  

“At least seven men were killed and another 12 injured on Monday when the Israeli army blew up an attack tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said […]

“The explosion took place inside Israeli territory. The majority of the dead were activists that entered the tunnel after it was exploded and died in the Gaza Strip, and not as a result of the explosion,” said an IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee. […]

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said four of the dead were Islamic Jihad members, including two senior commanders, Arafat Abu Murshad, the Islamic Jihad’s central Gaza commander and his deputy Hassan Abu Hassanein. […]

Two Hamas members, Musbah Shabir, 30 and Mujahid Mohammed Marwan Algha, were also killed during the rescue operation, Hamas said.”

The BBC News website’s October 30th report on that story ran with a headline that gives readers the inaccurate impression that the tunnel’s destruction took place in the Gaza Strip: “Gaza: Palestinian militants killed as Israel hits tunnel“.

The original text of the article similarly failed to adequately clarify to BBC audiences that the controlled explosion took place inside Israeli territory.

“Seven Palestinian militants were killed and several others injured when Israel destroyed a tunnel running from Gaza into Israel, Palestinian officials say. […]

The Israeli military said the tunnel it destroyed on Monday ran from Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, into Israeli territory, about 2km (1.2 miles) from the town [sic] of Kissufim.”

The day after the article’s appearance the words “[t]he army said the destruction took place on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza” were added following complaints and a footnote appended to the report.

So perhaps (in addition to not knowing that Kissufim is a kibbutz rather than a “town”) the BBC was not initially aware of the fact that the operation took place inside Israel? A Tweet from a “BBC News senior producer in Israel” shows that is not the case and also casts light on the use of superfluous punctuation around the phrase terror tunnel in the report:

 “The Israeli military said the “terror tunnel” was still under construction when it was “neutralised”.”

Does the BBC really believe that there is room for doubt about the purpose of a tunnel infiltrating Israeli territory constructed by an Iranian backed terrorist organisation? Apparently it does because the article went on to unquestioningly amplify that terror group’s propaganda.

“An Islamic Jihad statement said the tunnels were “part of the policy of deterrence to defend the Palestinian people” and accused Israel of a “dangerous escalation”, according to AFP news agency.”

In addition, this report included a recycled paragraph on the topic of casualty figures during the summer 2014 conflict which the BBC attributes to “the UN”.

“The conflict left at least 2,251 Palestinians dead – including more than 1,462 civilians, according to the UN – and 11,231 injured. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed, and up to 1,600 injured.”

In fact – as has been shown here before – the casualty figures and debatable civilian/combatant casualty ratios that the BBC elects to repeatedly amplify were supplied by Hamas and NGOs involved in ‘lawfare’ campaigning against Israel, funnelled through a partisan UN agency and subsequently promoted in a controversial and biased UNHRC report.

Since the end of the 2014 conflict the BBC has consistently under-reported the story of cross-border attack tunnels constructed by Gaza based terror groups. Audiences have heard very little about the diversion of construction materials and funds for that purpose and nothing at all about the Israeli civilians living adjacent to the border with the Gaza Strip who are under threat from such tunnels. This latest report obviously contributes little to rectifying that.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Sommerville showcases PIJ rearmament but refrains from asking who supplied the weapons

BBC News continues to promote dubiously sourced Gaza statistics

BBC News conceals part of a story on Hamas tunnels

Tepid BBC reporting on discovery of Hamas cross-border tunnel

 

 

Advertisements

Terrorism the BBC chose not to report this week

Most of the coverage of Israel appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page over the past week has been devoted to the topic of the arson attack in Duma on July 31st (which has now claimed another life) and associated subject matter.

In addition to that attack, several other terrorist incidents took place in the region this last week.

On August 1st missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip and on August 6th another attack took place. In both cases the missiles fell short and landed in the Gaza Strip or near the border fence and the attacks were claimed by Gaza based Salafist Jihadists. BBC News did not report those attacks.Kissufim missile 7 8 BBC Arabic

On August 7th one of several missiles fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the Kissufim area of southern Israel. The attack was claimed by Salafist Jihadists and the IDF responded with a strike on a Hamas training facility. In the now well-established pattern, there was no English language coverage of that attack but Israel’s response was reported on the BBC Arabic website.

On the evening of August 3rd a couple driving near the Beit Hanina junction in north Jerusalem were attacked with a firebomb.

“A 27-year-old Israeli woman was moderately hurt by the Molotov cocktail, suffering burns on her body. The woman and her husband abandoned their burning car, which proceeded to roll down and hit a 20-year-old pedestrian, who was lightly hurt.

A third man was lightly injured after he tried to extinguish the car.”

Despite at least one BBC staffer clearly being aware of the attack, it was not reported by BBC News on its website’s Middle East page.

On August 6th a vehicular attack took place near Shilo.

“Three IDF soldiers were wounded when a car deliberately ran into them on Thursday afternoon near the Shiloh junction north of Ramallah in the West Bank. The attacker was shot and neutralized by a fourth soldier.

Magen David Adom [ambulance service] reported that two were seriously wounded and another lightly. Officials said that one of the wounded was 20-years-old and suffered from a head injury.”

The attack was praised by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Whilst the BBC was clearly aware of the incident and a report on the subject appeared on the BBC Arabic website, no English language coverage was to be found on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

That same BBC Arabic report also mentions an explosion which occurred in Rafah in the Gaza Strip on August 6th, killing four people and wounding many others. Interestingly, whilst the BBC Arabic report unequivocally attributes the blast to “Israeli missile remnants” – i.e. unexploded ordnance – other media outlets reporting on that story were more cautious. Reuters reported:

“Media outlets of the Hamas Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip blamed the blast on an unexploded Israeli missile from last year’s war.

The Hamas-run Interior Ministry said it was checking the cause of the explosion, which destroyed the home of Ayman Abu Nqeira, a Hamas member.”

The Guardian’s report on the subject states:

“Early reports suggested the blast was caused by unexploded ordnance (UXO) left from last summer’s 50-day war between Israel and Gaza. Swaths of Rafah were almost obliterated during weeks of shelling from air, sea and land. Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesman for the Gaza ministry of health, said the dead men had been clearing rubble from a house that was destroyed during the war. The home was hit in an Israeli air strike on 9 July last year.

However, masked and armed men from Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, blocked access to the area, fuelling suspicions that the house or a nearby property may have been used to store explosives or rockets. Some locals said the area was a weapons base for Al-Qassam Brigades; others said Israeli unexploded ordnance was the cause of the blast.

A spokesman for Gaza’s interior ministry said: “We can’t give a clear reason for what happened.” An investigation was under way, he added.”

Remarkably, BBC Arabic – part of the organization which describes itself as “the standard-setter for international journalism” – appears to have unquestioningly adopted and amplified the exact same line as Hamas’ media outlets.

Sniper attack on Gaza Strip border fails to make BBC news in English but reported in Arabic

At around 11 a.m. on December 24th a sniper in the Gaza Strip opened fire at IDF troops on the Israeli side of the border fence near Kissufim and a soldier from the Bedouin Desert Reconnaissance Battalion sustained severe chest injuries.

IDF forces responded to the attack.

“Palestinians said that the commander of Hamas’s surveillance unit in the area was killed in the IDF response, Israel Radio reported. Hamas fighters were abandoning positions across the Strip, the report said.

Medical sources said Tayseer al-Ismary, 33, died after being hit by a bullet fired by the IDF, while Hamas sources confirmed he was a member of the movement’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.”

Despite BBC staff being aware of this latest breach of the August ceasefire agreement by Palestinian terrorists, it was not reported on the BBC News website either on December 24th or 25th.

Kissufim attack Shuval tweet

The story did, however, appear on BBC Arabic television and on the BBC Arabic website where Rushdi Abualouf’s filmed report was presented under the obviously problematic ‘last-first’ title “Palestinian shot dead by Israeli army near Khan Younis”.

Kissufim attack BBC Arabic report

 

Four BBC video reports and a funeral

Taking a look at yesterday’s BBC News reports from Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison on the subject of the intense barrage of rocket fire experienced by civilians in southern Israel on October 23rd and 24th 2012 (which the BBC did not begin reporting until the second day), we find that all the items lead with similar headlines. 

In chronological order, we first have “Gaza militants killed in strikes following rocket fire”  – a report appearing on the BBC News website which includes both written ‘analysis’ and a video report from Jon Donnison in which he is still promoting the notion that it is  “unusual” for Hamas to be taking part in rocket attacks. 

The second report, also titled in the same way, is a video report which seems to have appeared on television news. It includes footage of some of the damage caused by the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, including a wrongly titled shot of the chicken house in Kibbutz Kissufim where two farm workers sustained critical injuries. 

According to Donnison:

“As ever, civilians are caught up in the violence”

What he neglects to mention, however, is that in the case of Israeli civilians, they are actually the intended targets of rockets fired by Hamas and other terrorist organisations, rather than unfortunate bystanders. 

Donnison informs his viewers that:

“This is a reminder that the ongoing conflict has not gone away”

(Does he really believe that anyone thought it had?)

He goes on to talk about the peace process, saying “Gaza and Hamas are not even part of those negotiations”, but fails to enlighten his viewers as to why that is the case. 

The third report, entitled “Palestinian militants killed in Israeli airstrikes are buried” is also a video report which was apparently broadcast on BBC news programmes in the UK. It contains the same spoken material as the two video reports above, with Donnison once again pushing the idea that it is “unusual” for Hamas to be firing rockets, but the brief footage of Israel appearing in this film is not labelled at all – which would make it very difficult for most viewers to understand what they were watching. 

The fourth and final report – which also apparently appeared on news broadcasts – is entitled “Gaza militants buried after air strikes” and shows comparatively extensive footage of Hamas funerals in Gaza. It also includes an interview with an unnamed Hamas representative who – entirely unchallenged by Donnison – bizarrely accuses Israel of wanting to “disrupt the atmosphere ahead of Eid” and suggests that Israeli military operations targeting terrorists firing rockets at Israeli civilians are some sort of election ploy. 

Against a background of an unlabelled picture of damage to an Israeli home, Donnison informs viewers that “Its [Israel’s] military power is far superior”, later going on to assert that “At some point there will be more Israeli air strikes, more Palestinian rockets”.

This last statement is typical of both the kind of equivalence which Donnison tries to convey in all his above reports and his avoidance of telling audiences the hard facts: if there are no more Palestinian rockets and terror attacks, then there will be no Israeli airstrikes against terror cells. 

From a visual point of view, readers will no doubt notice that – as is so often the case in BBC coverage – in all the above video reports produced by Donnison and his team in Gaza, one sees Palestinian people – men, women and children. In contrast, the footage of Israel shows only buildings, with an occasional soldier, police official or politician in the frame, but no civilians whatsoever.  

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have spent two nights and a day in air raid shelters (yet again) but the BBC apparently did not consider it necessary to include any footage of that. 

IDF briefing on intense rocket fire on southern Israel

Earlier, I took part in a briefing with Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich of the IDF Spokesman’s unit regarding the intensified rocket fire upon the south of Israel over the past few hours, which the BBC has reported under the headline “Militants killed in Gaza strikes”. 

Lt. Col. Leibovich reported that 68 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip in the past twelve hours. Two foreign nationals – farm workers from the Kissufim area – were critically wounded by rocket fire and three or four additional civilians are suffering from lighter injuries. Several homes have been damaged. 

Scene of the rocket attack which critically injured two farm workers. Photo credit: IDF blog, 24/10/2012

Lt. Col. Leibovich also gave details of the IDF’s responses to the rocket attacks:

At midnight last night the IDF targeted a rocket-launching squad comprised of three Hamas terrorists.

At 5 a.m. this morning the IDF targeted another squad which had just launched a rocket.

At 7 a.m. the IDF targeted a rocket launching site – one of the pits dug by the terrorists in which the rocket-launcher is placed.

At 8:20 a.m. the IDF targeted a weapons smuggling tunnel and other sites in the northern Gaza Strip. 

Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defence system has successfully intercepted 7 additional rockets.

The Home Front Command has ordered all civilians in the region to stay near their air-raid shelters and safe rooms as, due to their proximity to the Gaza Strip, they have only 15 seconds in which to find cover. All schools and kindergartens in the area are closed. 

Lt. Col. Leibovich stressed that all the targets of today’s rocket fire were, once again, civilian targets including small agricultural communities. She also noted that the majority of the rocket fire took place – as is frequently the case – during the early morning when children are on their way to school and adults travelling to work.

I asked Lt. Col. Leibovich for her view of the claim frequently made by members of the Western media that Hamas is not interested in an escalation of the conflict. She described it as “not a reliable statement”.

  

BBC ignores Gaza border attack

Yesterday we reported on attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians in the vicinity of the border with the Gaza Strip which the BBC chose to report by headlining the IDF response to those attacks. 

This morning, an IDF officer was critically wounded in another attack on a routine patrol near the border fence in the area near Kissufim. 

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for the attack.

As yet, there has been no response from the IDF.

There has also been no mention of the attack on the Middle East page of the BBC News website.

Could there be a connection between those two facts?