A story that falls outside BBC framing of Israel and Palestinians

In July 2016 the BBC – as usual – reported both the murder of an Israeli in a drive-by shooting attack and the later operation to apprehend the Hamas-linked operatives who carried out that attack without using the words terror, terrorism or terrorist.

The BBC News website’s report on the attack told readers that:

“…an Israeli man was killed and his wife and two children wounded after their car was fired on near the Jewish settlement of Otniel. […]

The victims of Friday’s attack were members of the same family. Local media named the dead man as 48-year-old Michael “Miki” Mark, a father-of-10.”

BBC audiences were not however told that – as later documented by “local media” – the wounded members of the family were given first aid by a Palestinian resident of the Hebron area and his wife.

“In the moments after the Friday drive-by shooting attack that killed Rabbi Miki Mark outside the West Bank city of Hebron, a local Palestinian couple helped the surviving members of his family escape the overturned vehicle and administered first aid until first responders arrived at the scene. […]

After he managed to pry one of the doors open, the man, who wasn’t named in the report, said he pulled 14-year-old Tehila from the wrecked car.

He said his wife, who is a medical doctor, worked to stanch the bleeding from the teen’s abdominal wound while he called an ambulance to the scene.”

The man’s actions resulted in his being sacked from his job. Shots were fired and Molotov cocktails thrown at his house. The harassment and death threats he endured due to having helped Israelis wounded in a terror attack led him to seek refuge in Israel. This week he and his family were granted residency.

“Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Tuesday awarded Israeli residency to a Palestinian man who saved the children of a West Bank rabbi in the aftermath of the deadly terror attack in which the father was killed. […]

The Palestinian man, who has not been named, received a temporary visa to live and work in Israel after receiving death threats in his hometown near the West Bank city of Hebron.

However, the visa was not renewed in August 2018 and for the last year he was unable to work, becoming homeless and living in limbo in Israel.

After his plight was revealed recently in a Channel 12 report, and following a campaign by several Israelis, including settler leaders, he was awarded Israeli residency on Tuesday, along with his wife and son.

While presenting him his identity documents, Deri praised him for his “selfless, noble” actions and said he would now be able to begin a new life in Israel.

The residency entitles him to a work permit and social benefits, Deri said.”

The story of a Palestinian man who was persecuted by Palestinians for helping Israelis in a medical emergency finding refuge in Israel of course clashes with the BBC’s standard narrative and so – despite it having featured heavily in the “local media” this week – audiences have seen no reporting on the topic. 

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BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – July 2016

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during July 2016 shows that throughout the month a total of 101 incidents took place: 77 in Judea & Samaria, 23 in Jerusalem and one incident originating from the Gaza Strip.

The agency recorded 73 attacks with petrol bombs, 22 of which occurred in Jerusalem. Six shooting attacks, 19 attacks using explosive devices, one vehicular attack and one stabbing attack took place in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem. Two missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip in one attack.

One Israeli civilian – Rabbi Michael Mark – was murdered in Palestinian terror attacks during July. Seven people (four civilians and three members of the security forces) were wounded.

The shooting attack near Otniel on July 1st in which Rabbi Mark was murdered and three members of his family wounded did receive coverage, together with an earlier attempted stabbing attack in Hebron. The missile attack from the Gaza Strip later the same day was not reported on the BBC News website.

Among the other attacks which did not receive coverage on the BBC News website were an attempted stabbing attack near Ariel and a stoning attack on Route 60 on July 5th, a vehicular attack near Neve Daniel on July 6th, a shooting attack near Metzad in which a civilian was wounded on July 9th, a thwarted bomb attack on the Jerusalem light rail system on July 17th, a stabbing attack on Route 60 on July 18th and an attempted stabbing at Hawara on July 31st.

In conclusion, the BBC reported one fatal terror attack and one attempted attack throughout the month of July.

In comparison with its record during 2015, we see an improvement in BBC coverage of fatal terror attacks in Israel during the first seven months of 2016 with all those attacks having been reported. Overall, the BBC News website reported 3.9% of the terror attacks which took place between January and July 2016 inclusive and its record of reporting the missile attacks launched from the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the year stood at 0% at the end of July 2016.


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The missing word in the BBC’s report on the capture of a Hamas terror cell

Visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 27th found the following headline:

Surit incident on ME HP

That link led them to an article with a title which similarly suggested to audiences that there was reason to doubt Mohammed Fakih’s involvement in a terror attack reported by the BBC earlier in the month: “Israeli forces shoot dead Palestinian suspected of killing rabbi“. The article opened:Surif incident main

“Israeli forces have shot dead a Palestinian who they said was behind a recent attack which killed an Israeli father-of-10 in the West Bank.” [emphasis added]

However, audiences were not told that one of Fakih’s accomplices had previously identified him as the gunman – as reported by Israeli media.

“The hunt for the rabbi’s killers began proper on July 4, three days after his death, when [Mohammed] Omaireh — a member of the Palestinian Preventive Security Services — was arrested. He told Shin Bet officials during questioning that it was he who drove the car on the night of the attack, but that it was Fakih who had actually fired the shots.”

Readers of the report were told that:

“Three other suspects were arrested in the night-time operation. […]

The Israeli military said the three Palestinians who were arrested were linked to the ambush on the car and were “members of a terrorist cell with ties to Hamas”.

A spokesman for the Israeli prime minister said a member of the Palestinian security forces who was recently arrested had driven Fakih to the location of the attack.”

According to the IDF the three were arrested “earlier this month” rather than during the operation which is the topic of this article and it was not clarified to readers that the “member of the Palestinian security forces” is also a member of Hamas

“The army said the three other cell members — Fakih’s brother, Sahir; their cousin Muaz Fakih; and Mohammed Omaireh — all belong to the Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip and has seen growing popularity in the West Bank.”

The BBC article describes Fakih as follows: [emphasis added]

“Mohamed Fakih, of the Islamist group Hamas, died in a gun battle with troops who surrounded his hideout in the village of Surif. […]

Hamas said Fakih belonged to its armed wing, the the [sic] Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades.”

Readers were not informed that:

“Fakih was imprisoned in the past for planning terror attacks along with others while he was a member of the terror organization Islamic Jihad. While in prison, he joined the ranks of Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.”

In short, in a report concerning a terrorist cell linked to a proscribed terror organisation which carried out a fatal terror attack on Israeli civilians, the BBC once again refrained from using any form of the word ‘terror’ itself, with the sole use of the term ‘terrorist’ found in a quote preceded by the qualifier “The Israeli military said”. Apparently the BBC was once again afraid of making a “value judgement“. 

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Another hole in the BBC’s Middle East narrative laid bare

Anyone who bothered to read right to the end of the article titled “Israel seals off Hebron after surge of attacks” which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 1st will have come across the following portrayal of an incident which took place on that day.route 60 attack art

“Elsewhere in the West Bank a Palestinian man died during clashes at the Qalandiya checkpoint, near Ramallah, where Muslims were trying to cross to Jerusalem for prayers.

Local hospital officials say he had a heart attack brought on by inhaling tear gas.”

That account does not clarify to audiences that what the BBC describes as “clashes” was actually violent rioting by a mob of Palestinians without entry permits who tried to breach the checkpoint by force. While Palestinian sources have indeed claimed that the man’s death was related to the use of tear gas during attempts to bring the violent rioting under control, in contrast to the impression given in this report, the connection has not been definitively established.

“A Palestinian man died Friday at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank, between Ramallah and Jerusalem, as some security forces faced off against some 1,000 Palestinians rioting at the site.

The protests erupted when dozens of Palestinians tried to break through the checkpoint in order to attend the final Friday prayers of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the flashpoint Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Channel 2 reported. Security forces at the site used riot dispersal measures, which Palestinian sources said included tear gas.

According to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, the man in his 40s choked as a result of the use of tear gas, and was taken to hospital in Ramallah, where he was pronounced dead.

An Israeli military source said, however, that the man’s death was caused by a heart attack, not from inhaling tear gas, the Walla news website reported.

Three police officers were lightly injured in the violence, Walla said. The crossing was closed temporarily due to the riots.”

The article also included reporting on the terror attack which took place on Route 60 on the same day – as ever without any mention of the word terror.

“It comes after an Israeli man was killed and his wife and two children wounded after their car was fired on near the Jewish settlement of Otniel.

It was the second fatal attack on an Israeli in the West Bank in two days. […]

The victims of Friday’s attack were members of the same family. Local media named the dead man as 48-year-old Michael “Miki” Mark, a father-of-10.

He was killed when the car crashed after the attack. His wife and two children were taken to hospital for treatment.

Israeli forces were still searching for a Palestinian gunman.”

Readers of the report were told that:

“In the wake of the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israel to deduct from tax it collects on behalf of the PA the equivalent amount which the PA pays each month to Palestinian militants jailed in Israel.

“Israel believes that the encouragement of terrorism by the PA leadership – in incitement and in payments to terrorists and their families – constitutes incentive for murder,” the prime minister’s office said.”

As has been documented here on numerous occasions in the past, the BBC has long ignored the subject of the salaries paid to convicted terrorists and the financial benefits awarded to the families of deceased terrorists by the Palestinian Authority and/or the PLO, despite the relevance of that topic to general audience understanding of the background to the conflict and notwithstanding the particular relevance of the issue to British tax-payers. Most readers of this article would therefore lack understanding of the context to the Israeli government’s action and statement described above.

As we see, for the second time in one day, visitors to the BBC News website came face to face with a topic that the BBC has serially excluded from its framing for years. Obviously (if the BBC really does seek to meet its obligations to its funding public) one of the tasks at the top of the list for whoever replaces Kevin Connolly at the corporation’s Jerusalem bureau should be to try to compensate for those years of neglect by providing audiences with the information of which they have been deprived on the inter-related topics of Palestinian Authority incitement, glorification of terrorism and funding of convicted and deceased terrorists.  

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The wording of promotion of a report which appeared on the BBC News website on the evening of January 17th leaves little doubt as to the intended focus of audience attention.  

Dafna Meir murder tweet

Dafna Meir murder on HP

Dafna Meir murder on ME pge

The headline of the article itself – “Israeli woman stabbed to death in Otniel settlement house” – likewise refrains from clarifying to readers that the story is actually about a terror attack. Whilst failing to provide any information about the identity of the perpetrator of the attack, the headline does however take care to stress the BBC’s preferred political designation of the location where the incident took place and the caption to the accompanying illustrative image adds the dimensions of religion and ethnicity. 

“A massive manhunt is under way after the Israeli army said a Palestinian broke into a house in the Jewish settlement of Otniel and stabbed a woman to death” [emphasis added] 

Dafna Meir murder BBC headline

The 179-word report appeared some four and a half hours after the incident, by which time the victim had been identified and the circumstances clarified.  Despite that, information concerning the victim is confined to a mere handful of words.

“An Israeli woman has been stabbed to death by a Palestinian who broke into her house, Israel’s army says. […]

The woman killed in Otniel has been identified as Dafna Meir, a mother in her late 30s.”

The BBC chose not to report that Dafna Meir was the mother of four children and had two additional foster sons. Crucially, readers were not informed that three of her children were at home at the time and witnessed the attack. Additional personalising information such as the fact that Dafna Meir was a nurse in the neurosurgery department of Be’er Sheva’s Soroka hospital was not included in the report , which again went on to inform readers that:

“Troops are searching for the attacker who fled the scene in the Jewish settlement of Otniel near Hebron.” [emphasis added]

Once again we see that as far as the BBC is concerned, the most important thing its audiences need to know about Israelis murdered in terror attacks is the ‘correct’ political classification of their postcode.

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