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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BBC News, PA Balfour agitprop and British history

BBC amplification of the latest pseudo-legal agitprop from the vexatious Palestinian Authority came in the form of an article which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 26th under the misleading title “Palestinians plan to sue Britain over 1917 Balfour act“.PA Balfour Decl art

The Balfour Declaration was of course a statement of British government policy – not an “act” as this headline states.

Later on in the article, readers were further misled by an inaccurate portrayal of the end of British administration of the Mandate for Palestine.

“Israel declared its independence in 1948 after the UK mandate expired.”

The mandate did not ‘expire‘: the British government chose to terminate its administration of the mandate originally granted by the League of Nations.

Remarkably, the article omitted any mention of British restrictions on Jewish immigration to Mandate Palestine before, during and after the Second World War.

“Jewish immigration to Palestine accelerated from the 1920s to the 1940s, latterly spurred by Nazi persecution and the Holocaust in Europe. The growth of the Jewish population was opposed by Palestine’s Arab community, which rejected the eventual establishment of a Jewish state.”

The article provided uncritical amplification to spurious claims made by a PA representative:

“Palestinian FM Riad Malki said the document led to mass Jewish immigration to British Mandate Palestine “at the expense of our Palestinian people”. […]

Speaking at an Arab League summit in Mauritania on Monday, Mr Malki said the UK was responsible for all “Israeli crimes” since the end of the mandate in 1948.

“Nearly a century has passed since the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917,” he was quoted as saying by the Palestinian Wafa news agency.

“And based on this ill-omened promise hundreds of thousands of Jews were moved from Europe and elsewhere to Palestine at the expense of our Palestinian people whose parents and grandparents had lived for thousands of years on the soil of their homeland.””

The article refrained from clarifying to readers that this latest PA stunt does not come out of the blue and it failed to provide them with the relevant context of the long record of denial of Jewish history by official Palestinian bodies, as ‘The Tower’ explains:

“Article 20 of the charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization, whose chairman Mahmoud Abbas is also president of the Palestinian Authority, declared that “The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood.”

In 1993, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat promised, as part of the Oslo peace process, to revoke elements of the charter that denied Israel’s right to exist as part of the Oslo peace process. After initially failing to keep his commitment, Arafat specified in a 1998 letter to President Bill Clinton that Article 20 would be among those that would be revoked. In December 1998, the Palestinian legislature officially voted to revoke those sections of the charter that were inconsistent with the Palestinians’ commitment to peace. By questioning the legality of the Balfour Declaration, the Palestinian Authority may be in violation of its international commitments to peace.”

This latest PA agitprop is of course unlikely to do more than create a few headlines. Nevertheless, if the BBC is going to give it amplification, it should at least also inform audiences about the real aim of an exercise that highights the redundancy of the BBC’s repeated promotion of the notion that ‘settlements’ and ‘occupation’ are the “obstacles to peace”.

Obviously too, the UK’s national broadcaster should be capable of presenting its funding public with an accurate account of Britain’s role in that particular chapter of history.

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The PA terror monument and the former BBC interviewee

Even as the BBC’s funding public sees its elected representatives debate issues relating to official Palestinian incitement and glorification of terrorism, the corporation continues to avoid providing them with the comprehensive picture of those issues which would not only enhance their understanding of news coming from the Middle East, but also of events in their own parliament.

Last week the Palestinian Authority and the PLO erected a monument to a terrorist who murdered fifteen people and wounded scores of others in 1975.Zion Square attack

“The Palestinian Authority went through with its plans yesterday to establish a monument honoring the terrorist Ahmad Jabarah Abu Sukkar, who planned the detonation of a bomb-laden refrigerator in the center of Jerusalem…. […]

Palestinian officials participating in this event […] include, among others:

 – Director of the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake

– Governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh, Laila Ghannam

– PA Parliament Member Qais Abd Al-Karim.”

Although there is nothing novel about the fact that the BBC elected to ignore this example of glorification of terrorism just as it has countless others, in this particular case we know that the corporation is well aware of Ahmad Jabarah’s resume of terrorism because it not only covered his release from prison (as a ‘goodwill gesture’ to the PA) in 2003 but even saw fit to broadcast what one BBC journalist termed “a really remarkable interview” with him on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme.

But while the PA keeps up its practice of making national heroes of dead terrorists with monuments, street namings and sports tournament dedications, the BBC continues to indoctrinate its audiences with the notion that the prime ‘obstacle to peace’ is Israeli building. 

BBC News misleads audiences on Palestinian boy’s death

Towards the end of the BBC News website’s recent report on the topic of a new Israeli law – discussed here – readers were told that:impeachment law art

“On Tuesday, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy was killed during a clash in the occupied West Bank town of al-Ram, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Muhey al-Tabakhi died as a result of a wound inflicted by a projectile that struck his chest and caused heart failure, according to a ministry spokesman.

An Israeli police spokeswoman said border police officers had fired tear gas and stun grenades after a petrol bomb was thrown at them.”

Although the article does not specifically tell them so, most readers would obviously understand those three paragraphs to mean that Israel was responsible for the boy’s death. But is that established fact?

The Times of Israel reports:

“The Israel Police said, however, that the violence broke out when Border Police officers who were returning the body of a Palestinian terrorist were “pelted with Molotov cocktails.”

The troops responded with tear gas and stun grenades, and did not use live fire, police said.”

The BBC’s Israeli newspaper of choice, Ha’aretz, reported that:

“Palestinian reports said that the boy was shot in the chest on Tuesday afternoon in clashes that erupted in Al-Ram. He was then transferred for treatment to a nearby hospital in Ramallah but died of his wounds hours later.

However, residents of the village contradicted the Palestinian Health Ministry statement. They said that the boy’s death should be investigated since direct evidence of the circumstances that lead to the incident was not immediately available. They claimed that the medical teams that arrived to treat the boy at the scene were not sure what was had happened there.”

So as we see, the circumstances are far from clear but nevertheless, the BBC allowed its readers go away with an impression of the incident that happens to dovetail with the messaging put out by the PA Health Ministry.

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Illegal weapons production in PA areas not news for BBC

BBC coverage of terror attacks against Israelis in recent months has included several reports on incidents in which automatic weapons were used – for example:No news

“The three Palestinians were challenged by the border guards, who asked to see their identification cards, Israeli police said.

At least one then produced a firearm and shot the guards. Other Israeli security forces at the scene then shot and killed the three assailants.

Police said the men were carrying three automatic weapons, as well as knives and two pipe-bombs.” (‘Jerusalem attack: Israeli border guard dies after shooting’, BBC News website, 03/02/2016)

“Two Palestinians from the occupied West Bank opened fire on shoppers and diners at the Sarona precinct, officials said. […]

The two gunmen, who were smartly dressed, opened fire with automatic weapons on diners and passers-by after sitting down and ordering food at one of the complex’s restaurants.” (‘Tel Aviv shooting: Israel suspends Palestinian permits’, BBC News website, 09/06/2016)

The BBC has however shown no interest in informing audiences of the origins of automatic weapons used in such attacks and so it came as no surprise to see that the latest in a series of efforts by the Israeli security forces to combat illegal weapons production in PA controlled areas has gone unreported – notwithstanding the involvement of Palestinian Authority security personnel.

“Israeli forces arrested four Palestinian men outside of Nablus on Sunday night, including two members of the Palestinian security service, who are believed to be involved in the production and sale of illegal weapons in the West Bank and Israel, the Shin Bet security agency said.

Numerous guns, ammunition and four drill presses, believed to have been used to create improvised weapons, were also seized in the raid, which took place in the village of Urif, just south of Nablus in the northern West Bank, the Shin Bet said.

During the raid, Israeli forces picked up Assem Najah Sharif Safadi and Ali Najah Sharif Safadi, residents of Urif who serve as intelligence officers in the Palestinian Authority’s security service, the Shin Bet said.”

Yet again we see that the BBC’s funding public gets some of the news, some of the time.

Poor BBC reporting on Palestinian incitement again mars audience understanding

As has been noted here on numerous occasions, the BBC has made little serious effort to inform its audiences on the issue of the part played by social media in fuelling the wave of terrorism seen in Israel during the past nine months.

In October 2015 the BBC News website produced a backgrounder headlined “Is Palestinian-Israeli violence being driven by social media?” which did very little to inform readers of the scale and significance of the incitement spread via social media, of the kind of content appearing on such platforms or of the use of social media by official Palestinian groups other than Hamas – including Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party – for incitement and the glorification of terrorism. 

Against that background, BBC audiences recently found two articles on the corporation’s website relating to the topic of Palestinian incitement of terrorism against Israelis on Facebook.FB art technology

On July 4th BBC Technology published a report headlined “Israel angered by Facebook hatred rules“.

“Government ministers in Israel have accused Facebook of failing to tackle “inciteful” posts against the country on the social network.

Public security minister Gilad Erdan said Facebook had set “a very high bar for removing inciteful content”.

Justice minister Ayelet Shaked wants social media companies to pre-emptively remove content which Israel considers to be a security threat.

Facebook said it worked closely with Israel to tackle threatening content.

Mrs Shaked has complained that threatening content must be manually reported by the website’s users before any action can be taken.

“We want the companies… to remove posts by terrorist groups and incitement to terrorism without us having to flag each individual post, in just the same manner, for example, that they today do not allow posts and pages with child pornography,” she told Israel’s Army Radio.”

The issue of incitement to terrorism, antisemitism and hate speech on social media was of course recognised long before the wave of terror began in October 2015, with the problematic fact that Facebook relies on members of the public to flag up offensive posts having been previously raised at the 2015 Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism. As the BBC’s article correctly notes, Israel is of course not the only country to have concerns about such issues and the UK is no exception.  However, Israel does face one rather unique situation which the BBC’s article does not explain:

“Defending his legislation, Erdan said European countries such as France and Germany already have similar laws in place, and Facebook complies with them. Yet, according to a spokesman for the minister, Facebook recently agreed to remove just 23 out of 74 pages brought to its attention by Israel for spreading Palestinian incitement. “Their policy of removing [content] is very, very, very strict and the bar is set very high,” the spokesman told The Times of Israel.

Facebook also does not recognize Israeli control in the West Bank, the spokesman added. “More than that, if someone writes something problematic and they live in Judea and Samaria, they [Facebook] won’t cooperate with us and they say it’s outside of Israel and therefore they can’t cooperate,” he said. Facebook declined to comment on this allegation.”

On July 11th visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page found an article titled “Facebook sued by Israeli group over Palestinian attacks“.FB art Shurat haDin

“An Israeli rights group is suing Facebook for $1bn on behalf of families of victims of Palestinian attacks.

The Shurat Hadin group says Facebook violates the US Anti-Terrorism Act by allowing militant groups such as Hamas a platform for spreading violence.”

Later on in the article, readers were told that:

“A report on the Israel-Palestinian conflict last week by the Quartet group of international mediators identified “the spreading of incitement to violence on social media” by Palestinians as a key issue.

“Hamas and other radical factions are responsible for the most explicit and widespread forms of incitement. These groups use media outlets to glorify terrorism and openly call for violence against Jews, including instructing viewers on how to carry out stabbings,” the report said.”

Nevertheless, the BBC found it appropriate to include amplification of the response of a terrorist organisation, which has long used social media for the propagation of terrorism, in its report.

“Hamas called the lawsuit an Israeli attempt to blackmail Facebook. […]

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, accused Israel of trying to turn it into a spy tool against Palestinians.

He said some Israeli politicians and soldiers had “expressed pride at the killing of Palestinians” on Facebook and other social media.

“The real test for the owners of Facebook is to reject this pressure,” he said.”

And readers were told that:

Israel says Palestinian incitement on social media has fuelled a wave of attacks since October, which have killed 35 Israelis and four people of other nationalities.” [emphasis added]

Obviously audiences’ understanding of the context to these two reports (and others) would have been greatly enhanced had they previously been adequately informed of the scale and nature of incitement on Palestinian social media and the use of such platforms by official Palestinian groups and bodies as well as individuals. That of course has not been the case and so the corporation’s funding public continues to lack key facts in a developing story the BBC has had over nine months to tell in its own words – but has not.

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BBC News ignores another Iranian funded terror group

Iran’s financing of terror is not a topic to which the BBC has devoted much serious reporting, despite the ample available evidence available. It is therefore not surprising to see that the following story has to date been ignored by the corporation’s Jerusalem bureau.Iran Hizballah

“Israel announced Monday it had outlawed a Palestinian group it said acted as a front for Iran-directed terror activities targeting Israelis and the regime of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman signed the order outlawing Al-Hirak Al-Shababi (“The Youth Movement”) at the recommendation of the Shin Bet internal security agency, a ministry statement read.

The decision followed “significant information indicating that the group is directed by Hezbollah and Iran to carry out attacks against Israelis, and ignite a wave of violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem at Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” it read. […]

Members of Al-Hirak Al-Shababi were engaged in firebombing and bombing attacks on Israeli targets in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as stirring unrest on the volatile Temple Mount compound in the city, the ministry said.”

This of course is not the first time in recent months that Iranian efforts to destabilise the region have been ignored by the media organisation committed to enhancing its funding public’s “awareness and understanding of international issues”.  

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BBC News mantra on 2014 negotiations impairs audience understanding

July 10th saw the appearance of an article titled “Israel and Palestinians: Egypt FM urges two-state solution in rare visit” on the BBC News website’s Middle East page which did little to contribute to audience understanding of issues of mutual interest for Egypt and Israel and took the famous British understatement to the extreme in its tangential portrayal of a topic the BBC has long downplayed: Hamas’ collaboration with ISIS terrorists in the Sinai peninsula.Egypt FM visit

“His trip is seen as a sign of strengthened ties between two countries sharing deep concerns over regional unrest. […]

Co-operation between Israel and Egypt has intensified under Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

Egypt faces Islamist militants in the Sinai region south of Israel, and both countries are wary of Gaza’s Hamas Islamist rulers.”

Significantly, the report also failed to clarify to readers that in contrast to the French proposal which was widely covered by the BBC’s Middle East editor last month, Egypt’s initiative to revive the process aimed at ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is based on direct negotiations between the parties.

Readers of this article were told that:

“The last round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians came to an end amid acrimony in April 2014.

The Palestinians accused Israel of reneging on a deal to free prisoners, while Israel said it would not continue negotiations after the Palestinians decided to bring the militant Islamist Hamas movement into a unity government.”

The BBC has been promoting that theme at least since the beginning of June:

“There have been numerous rounds of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians since the early 1990s, with the most recent collapsing in acrimony in April 2014.

The Palestinians accused Israel of reneging on a deal to free prisoners, while Israel said it would not continue negotiations after the Palestinians decided to bring the Islamist Hamas movement into a unity government.” (June 3, 2016)

“The last round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians came to an end amid acrimony in April 2014.

The Palestinians accused Israel of reneging on a deal to free prisoners, while Israel said it would not continue negotiations after the Palestinians decided to bring the militant Islamist Hamas movement into a unity government.” (June 30, 2016)

“The last round of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians came to an end amid acrimony in April 2014.” (July 1, 2016)

“The last round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians came to an end amid acrimony in April 2014.

The Palestinians accused Israel of reneging on a deal to free prisoners, while Israel said it would not continue negotiations after the Palestinians decided to bring the militant Islamist Hamas movement into a unity government.” (July 6, 2016)

Despite the obvious efforts being made by the BBC to shape audience views of that particular piece of history, the fact is that this simplistic yet widely promoted mantra does not provide an accurate description of events at the time.

It does not clarify that the fourth tranche of prisoner releases (intended to be conditional on the progress of talks) was delayed because the Palestinians both demanded the release of convicted Arab-Israeli terrorists and refused to agree to the continuation of negotiations after their official deadline. It does not inform audiences that the PA reneged on a previously made commitment not to join assorted UN agencies while negotiations were in progress and that it knew perfectly well that its decision to form a ‘unity government’ with the Hamas terror organisation which rejects the two state solution would be the final nail in the coffin of negotiations intended to achieve that aim.

As has been noted here before, the Palestinian Authority made three important choices between March 17th and April 23rd 2014 (not to accept the American framework, to join international agencies in breach of existing commitments and to opt for reconciliation with Hamas) which had a crucial – and apparently pre-planned – effect on the fate of the negotiations.

While the BBC’s portrayal of the end of the 2013/14 talks was highly partial and problematic even at the time, the fact that two years on it not only fails to meet its remit of enhancing audience understanding of the issue but actively impairs appreciation of why the 2013/14 talks collapsed is obviously cause for concern.

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BBC News continues to cultivate its settlements narrative

There is of course nothing novel about the BBC’s promotion of the politicised narrative according to which ‘settlements are an obstacle to peace’. Last month we noted here that the statistics do not support the claim made by the corporation’s journalists that Israeli building in Judea & Samaria and parts of Jerusalem endangers the two state solution. At the beginning of this month the BBC continued its promotion of that narrative in three separate items (here, here and here) which supposedly informed audiences about a report from the Quartet but actually airbrushed significant parts of its content.Construction art

On July 6th the BBC News website continued to propagate that narrative in an article titled “US criticises Israel over plans for new settlement homes” which relates to comments made by the same US State Department spokesman who just days earlier had refused to condemn an antisemitic libel promoted by the PA president in the European parliament (which the BBC chose to completely ignore).

The BBC News article tells readers that:

“The US has criticised Israeli plans to build hundreds of new homes in existing Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

State department spokesman John Kirby called the plans the “latest step… in a systematic process of land seizures”.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was “deeply disappointed” by the Israeli government’s decision.

The international Quartet of Middle East peace mediators also recently criticised settlement construction.”

However, while amplifying statements that dovetail with its own chosen narrative, the report does nothing to enhance readers’ understanding of the background and context to the story.

Information concerning the 19 year-long Jordanian occupation and the status of those areas before the belligerent Jordanian invasion of 1948 which would enable readers to understand why Israel views those areas as disputed is absent from this article. As ever, the BBC promotes its regular mantra on ‘international law’ without informing audiences of the existence of legal opinions which challenge that narrative.

“About 570,000 Israelis live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

Readers are not informed that the announcement to which the US spokesman was relating came in response to a recent series of deadly terror attacks.

“Citing an Israeli official, the Associated Press reported that the Israeli plans included 560 new homes in Maale Adumim, just outside Jerusalem, as well as almost 200 in the city itself. The plan also called for more than 600 new homes in an Arab neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, AP said.”

Neither are they informed that the “600 new homes in an Arab neighbourhood” (which interestingly is apparently categorised as a “Jewish settlement” for the purposes of this report) are intended to house Arab families from Beit Safafa and are part of a project in Givat HaMatos that the BBC has been reporting on since 2012.

Several days before this article was published we learned via Yolande Knell that the BBC is aware of the fact that in any realistic scenario of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians such as those proposed in the Clinton parameters and the Olmert offer, the main blocs of Israeli communities would remain under Israeli control.

“If a peace deal was reached, it is generally accepted that many settlements would remain. Past negotiations are understood to have included mutually agreed land-swaps in which Israel would keep its major settlement blocs.”

The sites of the housing units proposed in this latest announcement (which is only a preliminary step before the issue of tenders) would all be included in such land swaps – Givat HaMatos/Beit Safafa, Ma’ale Adumim, Har Homa and Ramot.

One must therefore wonder why the writer of this article refrained from informing readers of that fact and instead opted for the context-free promotion of misleading polemics such as:

“Mr Kirby said: “If true, this report would be the latest step in what seems to be a systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions and legalizations of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution.””

Unfortunately the answer to that question is all too clear. The BBC has once again demonstrated that it is not interested in providing its audiences with the full range of information which would enable them to reach their own informed conclusions on this topic but prefers to amplify any and every statement or report which supports its own adopted political narrative, whilst at the same time downplaying or ignoring issues such as the foreign funded PA’s incitement and glorification of terror and Hamas’ terrorism.

That of course is campaigning – not journalism.

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Another BBC airbrushing of the Quartet report

As documented here previously (see ‘related articles’ below), the BBC News website’s portrayal of the report published by the Quartet on July 1st was far from satisfactory and failed to provide audiences with a balanced picture of its content. In this post we will take a look at how the same report was presented to listeners to BBC World Service radio in the July 1st edition of ‘Newshour’ – from 30:08 here.Newshour 1 jul

To recap – the report cited three main factors as “undermining hopes for peace”:

  • “Continuing violence, terrorist attacks against civilians, and incitement to violence are greatly exacerbating mistrust and are fundamentally incompatible with a peaceful resolution;
  • The continuing policy of settlement construction and expansion, designation of land for exclusive Israeli use, and denial of Palestinian development is steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution; and
  • The illicit arms build-up and militant activity, continuing absence of Palestinian unity, and dire humanitarian situation in Gaza feed instability and ultimately impede efforts to achieve a negotiated solution.”

In its discussion of the first factor on that list, the report was remarkable for its forthright condemnation of incitement and glorification of terror by official Palestinian bodies including Mahmoud Abbas’ party Fatah and the PA itself. Those topics have long been neglected by the BBC and were once again sidelined in the two articles which appeared on the BBC News website.

Sadly, listeners who heard Owen Bennett Jones’ introduction to the ‘Newshour’ item did not learn of the Quartet’s condemnation of incitement from official Palestinian bodies because he referred generally to “the Palestinians”. Listeners did however hear the erroneous claim that Israel is “building settlements” rather than building in existing communities.

OBJ: “A long-awaited report by Middle East peace mediators says Israel should stop building settlements and the Palestinians should stop inciting violence. The so-called Quartet – the US, the UN, the EU and Russia – says current trends imperil a two state solution. Publication of these recommendations came amid further attacks in the occupied West Bank where Israel has closed off the city of Hebron. Our correspondent Yolande Knell is in Jerusalem. First of all; what’s happening in Hebron?”

A few hours before this programme went on air a fatal terror attack had taken place on Route 60. The closure on Hebron was implemented as security forces searched for the terrorists but uninformed listeners would have had difficulty understanding that connection from Yolande Knell’s reply to Bennett Jones’ clear question.

YK: “We now have hundreds of Israeli troops going to Hebron, roadblocks set up around the city. This follows a lot of concerns from the Israeli military about the number of attacks that have been perpetrated from this city. It’s always a flash point for violence but they say about eighty attacks out of 250 attacks or attempted attacks since October have been in the Hebron area.”

According to the Times of Israel, the IDF spokesman actually said that “seventy-nine terrorists have originated from Hebron” and remarkably, Knell did not bother to inform listeners that Hebron is a notorious traditional Hamas stronghold. She continued:

“And now it’s searching for a gunman who earlier shot some 20 rounds at an Israeli car on the main road – Route 60 – just close to Hebron. This led to a crash that killed one Israeli man – a father of ten – and left his wife and two of his children in hospital. The Israeli military says it also wants to prevent copy-cat attacks and stop a rise in violence which is often seen in the final days of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.”

Knell did not clarify for her listeners why the close of Ramadan might bring about “a rise in violence” or inform them that during that month alone six Israelis had been murdered in terror attacks by the time she produced this report.

Prioritising the name used by Palestinians to describe the most ancient Jewish shrine, she went on to describe an attempted attack which had taken place the same morning and in which a woman tried to stab a Border Police officer as follows: [emphasis added]

“Earlier there was a Palestinian woman in her twenties who was killed in the old city of Hebron. Soldiers shot her close to a disputed holy site; the Ibrahimi mosque – also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs. She’s said to have been carrying a knife and importantly, she came from the same village as a teenager who killed a 13 year-old American-Israeli girl in her home in a settlement just outside Hebron one day ago. And even after all the attacks there’ve been recently, this very brazen attack where she was stabbed to death in her own bedroom has really caused a lot of shock and horror.”

Owen Bennett Jones then asked Knell another clear question which she failed to answer.

OBJ: “So just to give us a general picture of what’s going on in the West Bank over the last few months, say, how frequent are the attacks there against Israelis?”

YK: “Well certainly there has been a concentration of the attacks within the West Bank. This is where you have Israeli settlers – and there are more than 560 thousand of them in total in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – and they’re living in close proximity to Palestinians. Often you have Palestinians of course also working inside settlements and the settlements themselves are seen as an obstacle to peace; this is something that has been reiterated by a long-awaited report from the Quartet of Middle East mediators – the US, EU, UN and Russia – that has just been published. But I have to say; over the past few months – really since the beginning of this year – it had seemed the number of attacks by Palestinians on Israelis had begun to subside. But then things have really picked up in the last few days, during the month of Ramadan.”

Obviously Knell was either unable or unwilling to answer the question of “how frequent are the attacks […] against Israelis” in Judea & Samaria and given that the BBC consistently under-reports the topic of Palestinian terror, that is hardly surprising. While Knell is correct in her claim that the number of attacks had been decreasing up until June, the fact is that according to Israel Security Agency figures, between October 2015 and June 2016 inclusive, 1,471 terror attacks took place in Judea & Samaria: an average of 163.4 attacks per month or 5.4 attacks per day. One would of course expect a BBC correspondent permanently based in the area to be able to report that information to audiences.

graph attacks Judea Samaria

Bennett Jones continued, once again promoting the inaccurate notion that Israel is building ‘settlements’ rather than constructing housing in existing communities.

OBJ: “Well now this Quartet report you mentioned is taking – if I could put it like this – the usual line: stop building settlements to the Israelis, stop inciting violence, stop using violence to the Palestinians. Is either side listening?”

Knell replied:

“Well there was so much expectation ahead of the publication of what’s turned out to be an eight-page report. There’s not much here that’s surprising: no talk really of international pressure that could be brought to bear. Already the Palestinians have come out saying this report doesn’t meet their expectations. They say that it tries to equalise the responsibilities between a people under occupation and a foreign military occupier. And we’ve just had a statement too from the Israel prime minister’s office that talks about how Israel cannot negotiate peace with itself and it rejects any attempt it says to draw moral equivalence between construction in the settlements and terrorism. So it seems to have been roundly dismissed and when authors talked about their hopes that they could help support further peace talks – well that doesn’t seem to have really helped much at the moment.”

The item ends there and as we see, once again BBC audiences have had their attentions focused on ‘settlements’ – described by Knell as an “obstacle to peace” – but have learned nothing about the much neglected subjects of incitement from official Palestinian sources as highlighted in the Quartet report and nothing about its condemnation of Hamas terror, tunnel building and arms smuggling.

This is the BBC’s third attempt to ostensibly inform its audiences what was in the Quartet report and it is the third time that it has refrained from doing so comprehensively, accurately and impartially. Obviously the way in which BBC audiences view the failure to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict will be influenced by these reports, with the fact that the BBC has airbrushed Hamas and Palestinian Authority related factors from the picture sabotaging audiences’ chances of properly understanding of the issue.

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