No BBC News follow-up to PIJ tunnel story

On October 30th the BBC News website reported the story of the controlled detonation by Israel of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad tunnel running from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Since then, however, audiences have seen no follow-up reporting on what is still an ongoing story – despite BBC journalists in the region being aware of developments.

On November 5th Israel announced that it had found the bodies of five PIJ operatives inside the tunnel.  

“Israel has recovered the bodies of five Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists that were buried when the army destroyed a Gazan attack tunnel that crossed into Israeli territory last week, the IDF announced on Sunday. […]

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad responded to the announcement, saying that Israel “will not be able to bargain over our fighters.”

“Our battle is open and shall not end. The freedom tunnel is not the only tunnel owned by the Islamic Jihad. It has many tunnels and many options,” warned  Ahmad al-Mudalal, a senior member of the group. […]

The five recovered by Israel were apparently diggers who had been working inside the tunnel at the time of the strike. They were found inside Israeli territory, on the Israeli side of the security fence, the army said.”

On November 11th Israel put out a warning to the PIJ.

“In an Arabic video message, an Israeli general on Saturday publicly warned the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to abandon plans to carry out a retaliatory attack in response to Israel destroying the terrorist group’s attack tunnel that crossed from Gaza into Israel last month.

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who runs the Defense Ministry’s chief liaison office with the Palestinians, recorded a YouTube video in which he addressed the terror group’s leaders in Syria, warning that Israel knew of their plans and was prepared to respond to them.

“We are aware of the plot that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is planning against Israel,” Mordechai said in Arabic. “

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad responded by describing the video warning as “threats” and “a declaration of war”, saying it had the “right to respond to the crime of aggression on the resistance tunnel”.

A BBC producer working in Israel also described the Israeli warning as a ‘threat’ on Twitter.

As the same BBC employee is aware, on November 13th the IDF arrested a senior PIJ operative in a village near Jenin.

“The Shin Bet security service confirmed that Tariq Qa’adan was picked up by the Israel Defense Forces in Arrabeh, southwest of Jenin, in the northern West Bank.

Qa’adan serves as a senior officer in the Gaza-based terror group’s West Bank wing, the Shin Bet said.”

On November 14th it was announced that the Iron Dome missile defence system had been deployed in central Israel.

“An Iron Dome missile defense battery was deployed in the Dan region — made up of Tel Aviv and the surrounding suburbs — it was revealed on Tuesday, a day after the military said it had stationed several interceptors in central Israel to protect against a possible rocket attack.

The battery is one of several measures taken by the army to raise its alert level and response capabilities amid heightened tensions with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization since the army demolished the terrorist group’s border-crossing attack tunnel last month.

Also on Tuesday, the army closed off a number of tourist attractions near the Gaza border, out of concerns that the terrorist group may carry out a sniper attack on visitors.”

As has so often been the case in the past, should the situation escalate and Israel be forced to respond to an attack by the PIJ terror group, the BBC’s audiences will lack the background information necessary for understanding of the context to any such action.  

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BBC News report on Gaza tunnel equivocal about its purpose

Palestinian Islamic Jihad clarifies what the BBC did not

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad clarifies what the BBC did not

As readers no doubt recall, in its October 30th report on an Israeli counter-terrorism operation against a cross-border tunnel running from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory the BBC News website failed to clarify the purpose of that tunnel to readers, putting the words terror tunnel in scare quotes.

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

The article went on to unquestioningly amplify the propaganda of the terror group that constructed the tunnel.

“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.”

The day after that BBC report was published a Palestinian Islamic Jihad official clarified the tunnel’s purpose in an interview translated by PMW:

“A member of Islamic Jihad, Khaled Al-Batsh, explained [in Al-Dustour (Jordanian newspaper), Oct. 31, 2017] that the tunnel that Israel attacked “was intended for freeing prisoners from the Israeli occupation prisons.” Al-Batsh was implying that the purpose of the tunnel was to facilitate the entry of Islamic Jihad terrorists into Israel, to kidnap Israelis who would then be used as hostages to force Israel to release prisoners.”

Al Batsh also spoke at the funerals of some of the terrorists who died after entering the tunnel following its explosion.

“Senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) member Khaled al-Batsh alluded that the terrorist tunnel the IDF detonated on Monday on the Gaza border was intended for kidnapping Israeli civilians, who would then be exchanged for imprisoned PIJ terrorists.

“The freedom tunnel that was attacked yesterday by the enemy was meant for the release of our prisoners,” al-Batsh disclosed, adding that the PIJ are undeterred, and will have “another tunnel for the release of the prisoners” in the future. […]

“We will continue our battle out of determination,” he said. “We have the right—blood for blood; we will not give up our right to resist.” […]

“Our weapons will remain in our hands; we will not allow anyone to demilitarize us,” he concluded.”

It should of course be a cause of considerable concern to the BBC that a member of a terror group gives a clearer and more honest explanation of the cross-border tunnel’s purpose that a Western media organisation supposedly committed to providing “accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming of the highest editorial standards”.  

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BBC News report on Gaza tunnel equivocal about its purpose

 

 

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.

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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

 

 

A BBC terror indoctrination feature highlights longstanding omission

Last month the BBC website published a special feature by Quentin Sommerville and Riam Dalati titled “An education in terror“.

“On the streets of Europe, we meet teenage boys trained by IS. Their testimony reveals wide-ranging plans to turn children into killers.”

“First came the grooming, then the recruitment and training to create a new army of child jihadists, who might grow into adult militants. The Islamic State’s next generation of hate.”

“Many armed groups across Africa, the Middle East and South America, have trained children for battle. Recruiting child soldiers is a war crime. But few have refined the process so efficiently as the Islamic State group.”

As well as personal stories the feature includes a section with the heading “Curriculum of hate”.

“IS not only concentrated its attention on recruits for the battlefield, it reached deeper into society, into the homes, classrooms, and minds of the youngest children. […]

Just like the Hitler Youth movement indoctrinated children to serve the Nazis’ 1000-year Reich, IS developed a feeder apparatus to regularly inject new blood into its veins. By the time it took full control of Raqqa in the winter of 2014 and turned it into its de-facto capital, the plan to subvert the education system was set in motion.”

Readers learn that ISIS’ focus on indoctrination through ‘education’ began three years ago.

“By July 2014, Mosul had fallen and the caliphate had been declared. The rich Iraqi city, six times bigger than Raqqa, had a lot more to offer in terms of human resources and infrastructure. Now, the Islamic State had both the expertise and the assets to take on the formidable task of drafting its own curriculum from scratch.

“They started in earnest during the fall of 2014, but the Diwan [ministry of education] had been recruiting loyal, ideologically aligned experts all throughout that summer,” Yousef, a Moslawi teacher who lived through that phase, told the BBC. […]

The IS curriculum was finally rolled out for the 2015-2016 school year. Children would enrol at the age of five and graduate at 15, shaving four full years off the traditional school life. They would be educated in 12 various disciplines, but these would be steeped in Islamic State’s doctrine and its world vision.”

This feature – described as a ‘resource’ in its URL – provides the BBC’s audience with information that will enhance their understanding of the ISIS terror group’s ideology and methodology. Interestingly though, the same audience has never been provided with such a resource on a comparable system that pre-dates the ISIS curriculum in Raqqa or Mosul.

The BBC did not report on the topic of child soldiers recruited by Hamas during the 2014 conflict. The paramilitary ‘summer camps’ run by Palestinian factions such as Hamas, Fatah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as well as by the PA and PLO have rarely received any BBC coverage. When Lyse Doucet visited a Hamas-run winter camp in Gaza in January 2015, the result was a mere one minute of coverage in her film ‘Children of the Gaza War’, with Doucet telling viewers that:

Hamas summer camp, Gaza 2016

“Some boys as young as Abdul Rahman [phonetic] take part in this first youth camp organized by Hamas’ military wing. It’s for men [sic] aged 15 to 21. Some are clearly younger and at the closing ceremony there’s younger still. For the outside world it’s hard to comprehend why parents would put children in situations like this. Hamas says the camps keep boys off the street and teach values and martial arts for defence. But the young also learn about weapons and hatred: it’s what Hamas calls a culture of resistance.”

Neither have BBC audiences seen any comprehensive reporting on the issue of the incitement and glorification of terrorism found in Palestinian schoolbooks, official PA radio and TV children’s programmes and Hamas’ online children’s ‘magazine’.

So as we see, while the BBC did consider a feature on “the Islamic State’s next generation of hate” editorially justifiable, it continues to avoid providing its audiences with information about the very similar indoctrination and abuse of Palestinian children.  

 

 

 

BBC silent on renewed Iranian funding for PIJ

The recent visit by a delegation of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to Tehran appears to have borne fruit according to a report published by the London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.

credit: ITIC

credit: ITIC

“The PIJ delegation was headed by its Secretary General Ramadan Shalah and included his assistants Ziad Nakhleh and military official of the movement Akram Ajuri. It held several public meetings with Iranian leaderships and other private meetings with the Commander of the Iranian National Guard and Commander of the Quds Force Qassem Soleimani.

The parties discussed various files that elaborated the Iranian vision for the PIJ Movement in the coming years.

One of the major decisions taken by Qassem Soleimani and approved by the political and military offices of the Movement, according to the sources, was restructuring al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the PIJ, and assigning Khaled Mansour the general commander of the Brigades in Gazza [sic] Strip.

Notably, Mansour is considered to be one of the most prominent leaders who are close to Iran and is respected and honored by the PIJ Movement.

Soleimani also ordered allocating $70 million as an annual budget for the Quds Brigades, transferred from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s treasury.”

Readers may recall that last July the BBC’s Middle East editor assured audiences that improvement in Iran’s finances as a result of the JCPOA would be directed to domestic investment rather than increased support for terror.

“…and there are people within Iran – people in the…ehm…the…ehm…Revolutionary Guard Corps – who…ah…do want to cause trouble around the region in the way that [previous interviewee] Frum was talking about it there. But the counter-argument to what he was saying is that the…President Rouhani was elected because people hoped that he would end Iran’s isolation and thus improve the economy. So the windfall that they will be getting eventually, which is made up of frozen revenues – oil revenues especially –around the world, ah…there are people who argue that look; that will go to try to deal with loads and loads of domestic economic problems and they’ll have trouble at home if they don’t do that. If people – the argument goes on – are celebrating in Iran about the agreement, it’s not because they’ll have more money to make trouble elsewhere in the region; it’s because things might get better at home.” Jeremy Bowen, PM, BBC Radio 4, July 14th, 2015

More recently, in February of this year, BBC News coyly told its audiences that “Iran has been accused of funding militant groups, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon” without providing any relevant background information on the issue of Iranian sponsorship of foreign terror groups.

Also in February, analysis of the results of elections in Iran from the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet included the following portrayal of what the BBC described as a win for “reformists”:

“This stunning election result will make a difference in Iran’s engagement with the wider world.”

If Asharq al-Awsat’s sources are correct and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has indeed upgraded ties with its proxy the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, this is obviously yet another example of how the BBC’s lopsided promotion of the notion of ‘reformists and moderates’ in Iran blinkers audiences, diminishing their understanding not only of that country but also of its influence on the Middle East as a whole.

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Patchy and selective BBC News reporting of Gaza border incidents

On May 3rd terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired shots across the border at an Israeli military vehicle. The next day cross-border incidents continued with five separate mortar attacks on Israeli troops which were claimed by both Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In the evening the Israeli airforce responded with strikes on Hamas installations in the Gaza Strip.  On May 5th an additional mortar attack raised the number of cross border incidents to seven in less than 48 hours and further incidents which took place later in the day brought the number of attacks into double figures. On the same day the IDF announced that it had discovered a cross border attack tunnel – the second to be detected in less than a month.

None of the above was reported at the time on the BBC News website.

As the mortar attacks against IDF soldiers dealing with the newly discovered tunnel continued, the IDF retaliated with artillery fire and according to Palestinian media reports, a woman was killed near Khan Yunis.

In the early hours of May 6th the BBC News website published a report with the context-free headline “Israel tank fire kills Gaza woman, medics say“.Gaza border art 6 5

Readers of the report found the background story presented in qualified terms, using the BBC’s standard ‘Israel says’ formula.

“Israel said it was responding to mortar rounds fired by Hamas fighters.”

“The army said attacks by the militants were targeting Israeli forces searching for tunnels in the border area.”

Only in the tenth paragraph did the BBC get round to describing the context to the headlined incident in its own words – but its portrayal inaccurately described the cross-border attacks as having begun a day later than is actually the case and failed to adequately clarify to readers that the violence was initiated by Palestinian terrorists.  

“Since Wednesday, Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups have fired guns and mortar rounds across the border, and the Israeli air force has carried out bombing raids.

The exchange of attacks continued on Friday.”

BBC reporting of the discovery of the latest cross-border attack tunnel is limited to 35 words in two paragraphs:

“The clashes came after Israel said it had discovered a new tunnel reaching into Israel from Gaza.

Israeli army spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner said the tunnel was about 30 metres (100ft) below the surface.”

On the evening of May 6th the attacks from the Gaza Strip escalated when terrorists fired missiles at Israeli civilian communities in the Eshkol region near the border. The BBC’s article was not updated to include that information and no additional report on that incident was published.

Since the beginning of the year the BBC News website has failed to report on any of the missile attacks on Israeli civilian communities by terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Related Articles:

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BBC News reports Jerusalem bus bomb without using the word terror

On the afternoon of April 18th an explosion occurred on a public bus in Jerusalem injuring 21 people. Within a couple of hours the police and security services had established the cause of the incident.

“Police and rescue officials confirmed 21 people were hurt when the number 12 city bus exploded on Moshe Baram Street in the Talpiot neighborhood of the capital at about 5:45 p.m., setting the bus on fire.

A second intercity bus nearby and a car were also burned in the blast.

Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevy told the media the blast was caused by an explosive device placed on the bus, putting an end to hours of speculation over whether the blast was terror related or a technical malfunction.

“When a bomb explodes on a bus, it is a terror attack,” he said, adding it was unclear if the bomber had been on the bus at the time of the blast.”

pigua bus Jlem 18 4

Version 4

Reporting on the incident began to appear on the BBC News website shortly after it took place and early reports correctly noted that “[a]n Israeli police spokesman said it was investigating the incident, the cause of which was not immediately clear”.

As more information was made public, later reports informed BBC audiences that:

“A police statement said bomb disposal experts had determined that a device exploded in the back half of the bus.”

And:

“A police spokesman told Israeli Channel 2 television that investigators were still trying to determine who had planted the bomb.”

However, none of the amendments made to the article currently going under the title “Jerusalem bus bombing injures 21” clarified that the authorities had confirmed that the incident was a terror attack and the word terror does not appear at all in any of the report’s six versions.

Version 6

Version 6

Moreover, later versions of the article included commentary from Yolande Knell in which the perpetrators of numerous terror attacks on Israeli public buses during the second Intifada were described using the euphemistic term “militants”.

“For many, images from the scene here will bring back worrying memories of the bomb attacks by Palestinian militants that last took place in this city more than a decade ago.”

Knell appears to have forgotten that a British citizen was murdered in a terror attack at a Jerusalem bus stop in 2011 and that bomb attacks on buses have occurred in other Israeli cities far more recently than “more than a decade ago”.

Similarly, readers of the final version of the BBC’s report were informed that:

“Palestinian militant group Hamas, which carried out a wave of bus bombings in the city in the early 2000s, praised Monday’s blast, calling it “a natural reaction to Israeli crimes”.”

They were not however told that additional terror groups likewise lauded the attack – as did the PA president’s Fatah party.

“Hamas welcomed the attack in Jerusalem as a “natural response to the crimes of occupation,” but it did not claim responsibility.

Islamic Jihad welcomes the attack as “proof of the failure of security coordination” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said it “welcomes the operation as a positive and important development of the intifada.” “

It is of course difficult to imagine that had twenty-one people been injured by a bomb placed on a London bus, the BBC would have avoided using the word ‘terror’ in its reporting of the incident. But as we have known for quite some time, the corporation defends the double standards seen in its reporting of terrorism by claiming that attacks against Israelis are “very different” from those against civilians elsewhere (whilst refusing to clarify the rationale behind that claim) and it does not consider those double standards to be “a significant issue of general importance that might justify further investigation”.

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BBC euphemisms hobble audience understanding of Iranian terror financing

The BBC News website’s coverage of the Iranian president’s visit to Europe late last month included two reports – “Rouhani in Europe: Italy covers nudes for Iran president“, January 26th and “Rouhani arrives in Paris as Iran drums up business with France“, January 27th – in which audiences were told that:Rouhani art 1

“Iran has been accused of funding militant groups, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Obviously that choice of minimalist phrasing does not clarify to readers who has accused Iran of funding “militant groups” (the BBC standard euphemism for terrorist organisations) or whether or not there is any basis to those accusations. It also obfuscates the fact that at least one Iranian official has acknowledged that Iran provides support to Hizballah. 

A reader looking for more information might therefore have turned to the BBC’s profile of Iran which appears at the bottom of both reports. However, the only reference that topic to be found there is a no less coyly worded side box which fails to provide audiences with any relevant factual information.

insert Iran profile Hizballah

The BBC’s profile of Hizballah is equally uninformative on the issue of the financial and material backing received by that organization from Iran.

The US State Department defines Iran as one of the “State Sponsors of Terrorism” according to the following criterion.

“To designate a country as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, the Secretary of State must determine that the government of such country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”

The department’s report for 2014 (published in 2015) states:

“Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran continued its terrorist-related activity in 2014, including support for Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, Lebanese Hizballah, and various groups in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. This year, Iran increased its assistance to Iraqi Shia militias, one of which is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), in response to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) incursion into Iraq, and has continued to support other militia groups in the region. Iran also attempted to smuggle weapons to Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza. While its main effort focused on supporting goals in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, Iran and its proxies also continued subtle efforts at growing influence elsewhere including in Africa, Asia, and, to a lesser extent, Latin America. Iran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to implement foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and create instability in the Middle East. The IRGC-QF is the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.” […]

“Iran has historically provided weapons, training, and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups, including Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). These Palestinian terrorist groups have been behind a number of deaths from attacks originating in Gaza and the West Bank. Although Hamas’s ties to Tehran have been strained due to the Syrian civil war, in a November 25 speech, Supreme Leader Khamenei highlighted Iran’s military support to “Palestinian brothers” in Gaza and called for the West Bank to be similarly armed. In December, Hamas Deputy Leader Moussa Abu Marzouk announced bilateral relations with Iran and Hamas were “back on track.”” […]

“Since the end of the 2006 Israeli-Hizballah conflict, Iran has also assisted in rearming Lebanese Hizballah, in direct violation of UNSCR 1701. General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the IRGC Aerospace Force stated in November that “The IRGC and Hezbollah are a single apparatus jointed together,” and Lebanese Hizballah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem boasted that Iran had provided his organization with missiles that had “pinpoint accuracy” in separate November public remarks. Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Lebanese Hizballah in Lebanon and has trained thousands of its fighters at camps in Iran. These trained fighters have used these skills in direct support of the Asad regime in Syria and, to a lesser extent, in support of operations against ISIL in Iraq. They have also continued to carry out attacks along the Lebanese border with Israel.”Rouhani art 2

Those looking to BBC profiles for information on the financing of Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad would find no reference to Iran.

One of the foremost experts on Hizballah financing, Matthew Levitt, has noted that:

“Iran is believed to fund Hezbollah to the tune of at least $100 million per year. Recently, Western diplomats and analysts in Lebanon estimated Hezbollah receives closer to $200 million a year from Iran. […]

Some of this financial support comes in the form of cash funds, while much is believed to come in the form of material goods such as weapons. Iranian cargo planes deliver sophisticated weaponry, from rockets to small arms, to Hezbollah in regular flights to Damascus from Tehran. These weapons are offloaded in Syria and trucked to Hezbollah camps in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. In the wake of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Hezbollah reportedly received an additional $22 million from Iranian intelligence to support Palestinian terrorist groups and foment instability.”

More recently Mr Levitt has noted that:

“Iran has not changed its policies regarding the sponsorship of militants since late 2013, when nuclear talks began in earnest. “Iran continued to sponsor terrorist groups around the world, principally through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF)…These groups included Lebanese Hizballah, several Iraqi Shia militant groups, Hamas, and Palestine Islamic Jihad,” according to the State Departments June 2015 report on terrorism. In addition, the State Department accused Iran of “prolonging the civil war in Syria, and worsening the human rights and refugee crisis there.” The report described Iran’s terror sponsorship as “undiminished.” It also noted that Iran increased training and funding for Iraqi militias in 2014, supplying them with advanced weaponry. Iran also “provided hundreds of millions of dollars” to Hezbollah and “trained thousands of [the group’s] fighters at camps in Iran.” The State Department concluded that it did not expect Iran’s behavior in Syria to change anytime soon, in part because “Iran views Syria as a crucial causeway in its weapons supply route” to the Shiite political party and militia Hezbollah, a key pillar in Tehran’s “resistance” front. Indeed, Iran continued to provide the Lebanese group with “training, weapons, and explosives, as well as political, diplomatic, monetary, and organizational aid.””

There is clearly ample information about Iran’s funding of terrorist organisations available in the public domain for the BBC to be able to fulfil its public purpose remit of building “a global understanding of international issues”. Instead the corporation chooses to sell its audiences short with euphemistic phrasing which fails to contribute to their knowledge of this pertinent issue.

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BBC coverage of wave of terror in Israel criticised by its former chairman

As noted here previously, the BBC’s coverage of the current wave of terrorism in Israel has already come under criticism from Sir Eric Pickles. On Friday, a former BBC chairman added his voice to the critique.

“Former Chairman of the BBC, Lord Grade of Yarmouth CBE, has expressed concern about the BBC’s coverage of the recent violence in Israel and the West Bank, in a letter to the organisations’ Director of News and Current Affairs, James Harding.

In his complaint, Lord Grade said that the BBC coverage was at times misleading and failed to provide a wider context of what is an “undoubtedly complex issue”.

Lord Grade criticised the BBC’s inability “to fulfil its obligation to viewers” by not showing viewers examples of Palestinian Authority officials praising the attacks and calling for more. The former BBC Chairman underlined that Palestinian incitement, “has played an undeniable part in stoking tension recently and is an important part of the story”.

The complaint was directed at a report by Orla Guerin on Sunday October 11th, about the recent wave of attacks across Israel.”

That report from Orla Guerin was discussed here and here.

Lord Grade noted:PIJ flags Halabi 2

“Additionally, it was improper of the correspondent to claim that “there’s no sign of involvement by militant groups”, before immediately showing footage of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) banners at the home of a 19 year-old terrorist who carried out a deadly knife attack at Lions Gate in Jerusalem on 3rd October. PIJ is a well-known Palestinian terror organisation and it has since claimed responsibility for the attack and praised by Hamas, another internationally proscribed terror organisation. This directly misleads viewers”.

He added:

“Regrettably, this is not the first time the standard of reporting and impartiality has been unsatisfactory in recent weeks. On Saturday 3rd October, I was disappointed to see the BBC News website publish a misleading and counter-factual headline: ‘Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attacks kills two’. I note reports that this headline underwent four revisions following public criticism”.

The report to which Lord Grade refers was discussed here and here.

BBC’s Guerin portrays wave of terror in Israel as ‘DIY unrest’

h/t @SussexFriends

Viewers of BBC television news on October 11th saw yet another report from Orla Guerin on the topic of the current wave of terrorism in Israel. A similar but shorter version of that report also appeared on the BBC News website on the same day under the title “Palestinians killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza“, with its synopsis promoting equivalence between Israeli victims of terrorism and Palestinians mostly killed whilst carrying out terror attacks or engaging in violent rioting.Guerin filmed 11 10

“Escalating violence has claimed the lives of four Israelis and 23 Palestinians in a two week period.”

That same equivalence was seen in news presenter Mishal Husain’s introduction to Guerin’s report.

Mishal Husain: “A Palestinian woman and her two year-old daughter have been killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip following Palestinian rocket attacks. Escalating violence over the last fortnight has claimed the lives of four Israelis and at least twenty Palestinians. Our Middle East correspondent Orla Guerin sent this report.

Orla Guerin: “Dawn in Gaza. A new day of conflict. This was what was left after an Israeli airstrike flattened a house. A pregnant mother died here with her two year-old daughter. Israel says it was targeting weapons facilities after militants fired two rockets.”

Guerin provides no source or evidence of independent verification for her claim that “an Israeli airstrike flattened the house”. The BBC’s Rushdi Abualouf who – unlike Guerin – is located in the Gaza Strip, had already Tweeted a different version of events and according to other media outlets, the house collapsed due to what appears to be a secondary explosion.  

“Gaza officials said a woman, 30, and her two-year-old daughter were killed when an explosion from a targeted Hamas site caused the collapse of a nearby home. Three others, including a 15-year-old youth, were wounded, according to Reuters.

The collapsed building was located in the Zeitoun neighborhood in the northern Strip, the Walla news site reported.” [emphasis added]

Predictably, Orla Guerin shows no interest in helping viewers understand why a Hamas weapons manufacturing facility was located in a residential area.

Given that three years ago the BBC inaccurately reported an explosion in a house in the same neighbourhood  in which a woman and small child were killed as having been caused by an Israeli airstrike, one might have expected more caution and fact checking to be in evidence before Orla Guerin promoted her version of this event.

Guerin then goes on to give the following description of an incident which took place near Ma’ale Adumim on the morning of October 11th.

“And in the West Bank Israeli police say they stopped an attacker on the road to Jerusalem. When the Palestinian woman was pulled over, they say, she detonated an explosive device. Not a bomb – but a gas canister.”

According to official statements reported by the Times of Israel, the gas canister did not in fact explode as Guerin claims.

“The Shin Bet said in a statement that around 7 a.m. a traffic police officer noticed that the woman was driving in the public transportation lane while tailgating a police vehicle.

Police said officers noticed a suspicious vehicle driven by a woman heading toward a checkpoint on the way to Jerusalem and signaled to her to stop. The woman then yelled “Allahu Akbar” (God is most great) and set off the explosive detonator in her car, a police statement said. A gas canister in her car did not explode, however.

Handwritten slips of paper voicing support for “Palestinian martyrs” were found on her person, the Shin Bet said. […]

The car was bearing Israeli, rather than Palestinian, license plates. Police found the gas canister in the vehicle and said that the woman had intended to carry out a bombing in Jerusalem.”

Guerin then continues:

“Among Palestinians, living under Israeli occupation, there’s plenty of support for the recent outbreak of DIY unrest – including a spate of stabbings. Palestinians say anger and frustration are driving ordinary people to carry out attacks. What’s striking is that there’s no sign of involvement by militant groups. The attacks are being carried out by individuals. It’s a low-tech approach and it’s catching. [emphasis added]

Notably, the footage shown immediately after Guerin has told audiences that “there’s no sign of involvement by militant groups” shows Palestinian Islamic Jihad banners at the home of the terrorist who carried out the October 3rd attack at Lions Gate in Jerusalem. That attack was later claimed by the PIJ and praised by Hamas.

PIJ flags Halabi 2

Following a sympathetic interview with the terrorist’s father and carefully selected footage from Hebron which edits out all evidence of violent rioting, Guerin goes on to say:

“In Nablus soldiers used live rounds against stone-throwers. Elsewhere, another protester was buried. Every death increases the rage and risks unleashing a wider conflict.”

The flags of the terrorist organisations Hamas and the PFLP are seen in the footage shown as Guerin speaks, although she does not clarify that fact to viewers.

Guerin’s narrative of “DIY unrest” and “low-tech” terror attacks fuelled by “anger and frustration”, together with her categorical statement denying “involvement by militant groups” obviously does not meet the BBC’s obligation to “enhance […] audiences’ awareness and understanding of international issues”.

In all of the BBC’s reporting on the current wave of terrorism in Israel, the issue of the quotidian incitement on social media, in mosques, from Hamas, from Fatah and from the Palestinian Authority has been completely ignored. There is, of course, nothing surprising about that: since long before the latest surge in violence began, the BBC has habitually avoided the issues of Palestinian incitement, glorification of terrorism and indoctrination of Palestinian children.

Although those issues are a crucial part of the story the BBC claims to be telling with reports such as this one from Orla Guerin, they do not fit into the narrative adopted and promoted by the BBC.  Hence, even when a Palestinian Islamic Jihad banner is flying above her head, Orla Guerin ignores it. The trouble is that she would have BBC audiences ignore it too.