BBC News sidesteps the topic of Hamas disarmament yet again

On October 2nd an article headlined “Palestinian PM in rare Gaza visit as rift with Hamas eases” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

“The Palestinian prime minister has appealed for unity at the start of a rare trip to Gaza, as part of efforts to end a rift between Fatah and Hamas.

Rami Hamdallah is heading a delegation from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, which is taking over from an administration disbanded by Hamas.”

This is the BBC News website’s first follow-up report on the latest tentative Hamas-Fatah ‘unity deal’ since the news of Hamas’ announcement of the dissolving of its ‘administrative committee’ in the Gaza Strip broke on September 17th. In its report at the time the BBC News website told readers that:

“It is not yet clear whether Hamas is ready to place its security forces under Mr Abbas’s control – a major sticking point in the past, Associated Press reports.”

Back in 2014 when a previous (failed) ‘unity deal’ was being negotiated, the BBC similarly told its audiences that:

“…a Hamas official told the Associated Press that there were still disagreements over who should be responsible for paying civil servants in Gaza, and whether the PA’s own security forces would be allowed a significant presence in the territory.” [emphasis added]

That three year-old formula appears again in this latest article:

“Despite the rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah, a number of issues are yet to be resolved.

It is unclear to what extent Hamas will allow the PA’s forces to take over security roles, and what will happen to thousands of Hamas civil servants who have not been on the PA’s payroll for the past decade.”

Since the BBC last reported on this story in September, a senior Hamas official has made statements relating to the issue of Hamas disarmament.

“Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk said on Thursday that the Gaza-based terror group is not prepared to discuss the dissolution of its military wing during talks with the Fatah party, as the two sides attempt to form a unity government. […]

“This issue [of Hamas disarming] is not up for discussion, not previously and neither will it be in the future,” Abu Marzouk said in an interview with the semi-official Turkish news agency Al-Andalous. “The weapons of the resistance are for the protection of the Palestinian people, and it is inconceivable that Hamas will lay down its weapons as long as its land is occupied and its people dispersed.” […]

Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has a reported  27,000 armed men divided into six regional brigades, with 25 battalions and 106 companies.”

Despite its previous enthusiastic coverage of the prospect of a Hamas-Fatah unity government, the BBC has not since reported Abu Marzouk’s statements.

In a recent interview with Egyptian media, however, the PA president clarified that the issue of Hamas disarmament is a deal breaker.

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that he would not be prepared to accept Hamas keeping its armed forces in Gaza like Hezbollah does in Lebanon and demanded “full control” of the Strip, including over the border, security and all the ministries. […]

“I won’t accept the reproduction of the Hezbollah experience in Lebanon” in Gaza, Abbas said in an interview late Monday with the Egyptian news station CBC, pointing to an early point of conflict with Hamas, which has vowed not to turn in its arms. […]

Hamas, however, has said that it will not even broach the subject of dismantling its vast military wing during negotiations, leading some to believe the group was seeking to follow in the footsteps of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which is part of the government but retains its own army.

Abbas addressed this point specifically, saying, “I won’t accept the reproduction of the Hezbollah experience of Lebanon” in Gaza. He added that just as his security forces arrest those in the West Bank with illegal arms, the same would occur in Gaza.”

Significantly, in the same interview:

“Abbas noted that Hamas is still an “Islamist group,” while Fatah is a secular party. However, he said, the terror group still constitutes a “part of the Palestinian people,” and would be included in a Palestinian government as long as it agrees to uphold the policies of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is the largest Palestinian umbrella group. Abbas is the head of the PLO.

The PLO has recognized the State of Israel, while Hamas refuses to do so and continues to call for the Jewish state’s destruction.”

However, Hamas’ Abu Marzouk also recently stated that:

“…Hamas would not be willing to accede to the demands of the so-called Middle East Quartet — the United States, Russia, the European Union, and United Nations — that it renounce terrorism and agree to accept past agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which is the largest Palestinian political umbrella group.”

In addition, the US Middle East envoy said that:

“…there would be no dealing with a Palestinian government including Hamas unless or until the terror group recognizes Israel and renounces terrorism. […]

…Greenblatt reiterated the so-called Quartet Principles that the terror group must meet in order for a government it sits in to receive diplomatic recognition.

“The United States stresses that any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties, and peaceful negotiations,” Greenblatt said.”

One of those “previous agreements” between the Palestinians and Israel is the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. That treaty states, inter alia, in Article XIV:

“Except for the Palestinian Police and the Israeli military forces, no other armed forces shall be established or operate in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

And:

“Except for the arms, ammunition and equipment of the Palestinian Police described in Annex I, and those of the Israeli military forces, no organization, group or individual in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip shall manufacture, sell, acquire, possess, import or otherwise introduce into the West Bank or the Gaza Strip any firearms, ammunition, weapons, explosives, gunpowder or any related equipment, unless otherwise provided for in Annex I.”

In other words, the failure of a Palestinian Authority unity government to disarm all Hamas’ armed personnel (including its terrorist militia) would constitute a breach of one of those “previous agreements” – as both Mahmoud Abbas and Jason Greenblatt obviously appreciate.

The BBC’s report, however, once again failed to make any effort to enhance audience understanding of those points and – while refraining from reporting the relevant statements made by the Quartet, the PA president and the US administration – instead told readers that:

“Israel also resolutely opposes any involvement by Hamas in the PA. Along with several countries and organisations, Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group and has said it will not deal with a Palestinian government that contains Hamas members.”

Yet again the BBC’s superficial reporting on a potential Hamas-Fatah reconciliation falls far short of providing its funding public with comprehensive information needed to properly understand the story.

Related Articles:

Superficial BBC reporting on Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’ returns

BBC fails to clarify to audiences significance of PUG failure to disarm Hamas

Dumbed down BBC reporting on the Palestinian Unity Government continues

 

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BBC News ignores Hamas’ announcement of new office space

At the end of last month the Times of Israel reported that Hamas has some new office space.

“Hamas recently opened up official offices in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, a senior leader from the terror group revealed on Sunday.

Moussa Abu Marzouk told the Tunisian news channel el-Bilad that Hamas has “new-old” offices in Tunis, publicly acknowledging the headquarters for the first time.

The Hamas leader said the offices were opened with the blessing of the Tunisian authorities. He did not specify when the offices were opened.”Tunisia Jews 2

BBC audience members who recall the 2013 article by BBC Arabic’s Ahmed Maher in which they were told that everything is rosy for Tunisian Jews post ‘Arab Spring’ might perhaps be astonished to hear that the Tunisian authorities have apparently agreed to host an antisemitic terrorist organisation. Those who remember Magdi Abdelhadi’s report from Tunisia just months beforehand would probably be less surprised.

The BBC has however relieved audiences of that potential dissonance by simply ignoring the story of the Islamist terror group’s new offices in the country it has described as having had “the most successful” ‘Arab Spring’ uprising, as “keeping Arab Spring ideals alive” and as having a government “with progressive ambitions“.

Related Articles:

BBC whitewashes anti-Jewish extremism in Tunisia

BBC whitewashes Islamist antisemitism with semantics

Salafist quoted in BBC rejection of complaint supports Jihad in Syria

BBC World Service programme on Jews from Arab lands – part 2

BBC widens its distortion of the reason for the collapse of the August 1st ceasefire

The Tweet below was sent on the morning of August 3rd by one of the BBC correspondents currently located in the Gaza Strip.

Tweet Pannell

Pannell promotes two inaccurate pieces of information here, the first being that “militants denied it from the start”.

In fact, Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades originally claimed to have abducted an Israeli soldier and killed two others – albeit with the addition of deliberately false information concerning the time of the attack – as can be seen on their Twitter timeline.

AQB Tweet kidnapping 1

AQB Tweet kidnapping 3

Initially, Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk also stated that Hamas had abducted an Israeli soldier, with similarly inaccurate claims regarding the timing of the attack.

“Member of Hamas’s political bureau Mousa Abu Marzouk confirmed on Friday that an Israeli officer was captured hours before a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire went into effect. Two other soldiers were killed during the operation, Anadolu News Agency reported.”

Only later on in the day did Hamas spokesmen backtrack and deny involvement, meaning that Pannell’s claim that “militants denied it from the start” is both inaccurate and misleading.

Pannell’s second claim is that “The IDF claim lead [sic] to collapse of ceasefire”. In other words, Pannell would have his 15.1 thousand Twitter followers believe that the 72 hour humanitarian ceasefire did not collapse because of the fact that 90 minutes after its commencement, terrorists attacked soldiers from the Givati Brigade engaged in decommissioning a cross-border Hamas attack tunnel as permitted under the terms of that ceasefire according to the US Secretary of State.

“Speaking from New Delhi, Kerry said neither side will advance militarily from their current positions, but that Israel will continue to destroy tunnels Hamas has used to smuggle weapons and fighters into Israel.”

Instead, Ian Pannell would like you to believe that the ceasefire collapsed because the IDF announced that it had a soldier unaccounted for and suspected kidnapped after that attack and that Hamas’ actions are not part of the story at all.

But can Pannell’s all too obviously politically motivated attempts to rewrite the events of the morning of August 1st  – and to edge his Twitter followers towards the view that Israel, not Hamas, is responsible for the ceasefire’s collapse – be seen as a clear breach of BBC editorial guidelines by a lone BBC reporter?

The answer to that question appears to be no.

An article titled “Gaza crisis ‘intolerable’, says Philip Hammond” which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East and UK Politics pages on August 3rd is illustrated with the following photograph and a caption telling readers that:

“A 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas broke down after Israel said Lt Goldin had been captured”

Pic Hammond art

In fact, of course, the ceasefire broke down after Hamas terrorists attacked Israeli soldiers at 09:30 on August 1st. Half an hour after that, terrorists also fired missiles at the Kerem Shalom area in Southern Israel. 

Later on in that same report readers are told that:

“A UN-brokered humanitarian ceasefire, intended to last 72 hours, ended on Friday after less than five hours, with each side blaming the other.”

Another report appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on August 3rd is titled “Gaza conflict: Missing Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin ‘dead’“. There readers are told that:

“Hadar Goldin was believed to have been captured by militants during fighting, leading to the collapse of a ceasefire shortly after it had been declared.”

Again, this inaccurate portrayal conceals from audience view the fact that the ceasefire collapsed because Hamas terrorists breached it by carrying out a preplanned attack on Israeli soldiers which included a suicide bombing and shooting: not because an officer was stated to be unaccounted for at the end of the ensuing fighting in which two other soldiers were also killed.  

“The raid, which included a suicide bombing and involved enemy gunmen emerging from a tunnel shaft, came at 9:30 in the morning, during the early hours of what was to have been a 72-hour truce, and may signal a significant escalation in the 25-day-old war with Gaza.

A suicide bomber and other gunmen engaged the IDF forces as they sought to decommission a tunnel. Shortly after the combined attack, it became clear to Israeli forces in the area that a soldier was missing.”

As was documented here yesterday (see here and here), the BBC’s portrayal of the reason for the breakdown of the 72 hour humanitarian truce on August 1st has for the most part been lacking in accuracy, impartiality and even basic coherence. Rather than rectifying that dismal state of affairs, the BBC seems determined to continue and even widen its campaign of deliberate distortion.

Let us not forget that at some point, these distortions will become part of the BBC’s online “historical records“, even though the corporation clearly cannot even report three day-old history accurately.