BBC News plays down Hamas role in Gaza violence – part two

As we saw in part one of this post, a filmed report by Jeremy Bowen aired on May 16th downplayed Hamas’ role in organising, encouraging and facilitating the ‘Great Return March’ publicity stunt that has been going on since the end of March.

A report from the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman heard by listeners to BBC Radio 4’s ‘World at One’ on the same day included the same messaging.

Presenter Sarah Montague introduced the item (from 25:03 here) by promoting a narrative seen in much of the BBC’s coverage: alleged linkage between the ‘Great Return March’ violence – repeatedly described as “protests” – and the relocation of the US embassy in Israel.

[emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Montague: “Now, Palestinian protests on the Gaza-Israel border have dropped off dramatically after more than 60 people died during demonstrations against the United States relocating its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Tom Bateman is our Middle East correspondent – he’s in Gaza – and Tom; I know you’ve been speaking to people who were involved in the protests this week.”

Bateman: “Yes, Sarah. The question about the motivation for the protests has become a contentious one amid the recriminations over Israel’s actions in killing more than 60 people this week. Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, was sending people to the perimeter; even paying them to put themselves in the line of fire and to try to storm the fence.”

Of course not only Israel’s prime minister had noted Hamas’ role in encouraging the violence: by the time Bateman produced this report the ISA had published information on that subject given by Palestinians who were arrested while infiltrating Israeli territory. Hamas’ pledge to pay rioters injured or killed while participating in the ‘Great Return March’ had been extensively reported over a month before Bateman made this report – including by Western journalists.

Bateman went on:

Bateman: “Hamas and Islamic Jihad –another militant grouphave acknowledged that 13 of their members died but Hamas says their supporters were unarmed.”

Indeed at the time Hamas had claimed ten of the dead and the PIJ had claimed three – including one person described as a child by the BBC. However, within hours of Bateman’s report having been aired, a Hamas official admitted that fifty of the people killed on May 14th were members of his organisation, meaning that at least 53 of the sixty-two dead were affiliated with terrorist groups. No footnote has been added to the webpage of this programme – which is still available to audiences – advising them of that development.

By the time Bateman’s report was broadcast, the IDF had announced that among the 62 dead were eight armed Hamas operatives killed during an incursion attempt. Bateman’s uncritical amplification of Hamas’ claim that “their supporters were unarmed” therefore obviously raises serious questions about the reliability of BBC reporting.

Bateman next went on to promote the same theme as was seen in Jeremy Bowen’s filmed report:

Bateman: “Now I’ve spoken to a number of men and women who’ve been at the demonstrations: none answered yes when I asked if Hamas had sent them. They were prepared to talk about unrest. Many referred to the issue that they see as at the heart of the so-called ‘Great March of Return’ – yesterday’s 70th anniversary of their ancestors’ displacement when Israel was created.”

Listeners then heard a conversation between Bateman and an inadequately identified person presented as a “student of English Literature” who barely speaks intelligible English.

Bateman: “I spoke to 21 year-old Ahmed – a student of English Literature at Al Aqsa University – who’s been attending the seven weeks of protests since they started.

Bateman: “When you went to the protests, what did you do?”

Ahmed: “I stood on the border and we burn the caoutchouc.”

Bateman: “The tyres.”

Ahmed: “Yes tyres, the tyres.”

Bateman: “Were you hoping to break down the fence? To break it down? To go through?”

Ahmed: “Yes but the Jews he shoot the people and shoot anybody who come to him.”

Bateman: “But do you think you could have got through that fence? Do you think it was possible to go through the fence?”

Ahmed: “No, no, no, no. It’s impossible. It’s impossible.”

Bateman: “If you try and break the fence down, you mean, you’d be shot. So why, why, why then were you burning the tyres? Why were you trying to…”

Ahmed: “To tell them that we are to protest the decision of Trump’s that move the USA to Jerusalem. We will [want to go] back to our home [Israel] but this idea is peaceful. We are a peacefully people.”

Bateman: “When you decided to go to the protest, why did you do that? Was anyone suggesting that you should go?”

Ahmed: “OK.”

Bateman: “Was anyone telling you to? Or was it that you….”

Ahmed: “No, no, no, no. I go to protest with my beliefs and my…”

Bateman: “Your own beliefs?”

Ahmed: “Yes.”

Bateman: “Because Israel says that Hamas is telling people to go.”

Ahmed: “No, no, no. That’s not right. It’s an issue of all Palestinian…”

The report was suddenly cut off at that point.

Hamas’ involvement in preparations for the May 14th chapter of the ‘Great Return March’ was well documented even before the event and, as the ITIC recorded, even the top Hamas leader in Gaza was involved:

“Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas’s Political Bureau in the Gaza Strip, is personally involved in the preparations. He held a preparatory meeting for the events called “the March of the Millions” with representatives of the various organizations, activists of the “Return March” and young Palestinians from the Gaza Strip. The meeting was also attended by senior media figures. At the meeting, he called for extensive participation in the forthcoming events. He called on his audience to carry out the protest actions at all costs, saying that they would rather die as shaheeds; or die hungry and respected rather than humiliated and oppressed. Sinwar further noted in his encouragement statement to the youth that “he is afraid of dying in bed, and is hoping to die as a shaheed in the Return marches”.

Nevertheless, as we have seen in this two-part post, the BBC was clearly very keen to have its funding public believe that Hamas’ role in organising, encouraging and facilitating the ‘Great Return March’ is a figment of Israel’s imagination. How that can possibly be considered to meet the BBC’s obligation to provide its funding public with “accurate and impartial news” is of course a mystery.

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BBC’s Gaza casualty figures source shows its reliability

As we have documented, BBC reports on the events along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip since March 30th have repeatedly quoted Palestinian casualty figures provided by the “health ministry” in Gaza without clarifying that it is controlled by Hamas – the same terror group co-organising the ‘Great Return March’ – and thus obviously not an impartial or reliable source.

On April 14th the BBC Gaza office’s Rushdi Abualouf sent a rather cryptic tweet:

Obviously if Israel denied targeting four members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, then somebody must have claimed that it did and in this case that was the Gaza health ministry spokesman who, as reported by various Palestinian sources, initially claimed that the four had been killed by “Israeli shelling”.

Khaled Abu Toameh explains the story at the Times of Israel:

“Palestinian terror organization Islamic Jihad said Saturday that four of its members were killed in an accidental explosion near the Gaza Strip border with Israel.

The group said in a statement that the four died during “preparations,” without giving further details. Army Radio reported that the terrorists were killed while carrying explosives in an all-terrain vehicle, suggesting the blast may have been a “work accident.” AFP said they were riding a tuk tuk vehicle which exploded a few hundred meters from the border with Israel. […]

The Hamas-controlled Health Ministry initially claimed the blast east of Rafah in southern Gaza was caused by an Israeli strike. The IDF denied any involvement in the incident and said none of its forces had opened fire in the area.”

That, of course, is the same ‘health ministry’ which has been providing ‘Great Return March’ casualty figures since March 30th that have been unquestioningly promoted by Rushdi Abualouf (see for example here, here, here, here, here and here) and his BBC colleagues without any independent verification.

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BBC still prevaricating on purpose of Hamas tunnels

On the morning of April 15th the IDF announced the destruction of yet another cross-border tunnel originating in the Gaza Strip.

“A military spokesman said the tunnel was dug by the Hamas terrorist group and was connected to a “kilometers-long” network of other passages under the Gaza Strip.

The tunnel reached “tens of meters” into Israeli territory in the area of the northern Gaza Strip, close to the Israeli community of Nahal Oz, the army said. It was constructed after the 50-day 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas, according to the IDF. […]

Security forces had been monitoring this tunnel network, which had been under construction for years, the spokesman said. The decision was taken to destroy the tunnel once it crossed into Israeli territory, he added.

Palestinian tunnel diggers were working their way up to the surface to construct an exit within Israeli territory when the army decided to act.”

Later the same day the BBC News website published a report titled “Israel destroys ‘longest and deepest’ Gaza tunnel” in which the underground structure constructed for the purpose of infiltration of Israeli territory in order to carry out terror attacks was described as having been dug by “militants”.

“The Israeli military has disabled a major tunnel dug by militants which reached into Israel from the Gaza Strip, officials say.”

The BBC avoided giving readers a clear and accurate description in its own words of the purpose of cross-border tunnels constructed by terror factions in the Gaza Strip:

“A military spokesman said it had been dug since the 2014 Gaza war, when Israel destroyed more than 30 tunnels which it said were meant for attacks.” [emphasis added]

Readers were not informed that during the summer 2014 conflict Hamas used cross border tunnels to infiltrate Israeli territory on four separate occasions in the space of twelve days. 

The BBC’s reporting on the topic of tunnels at the time included twenty-three seconds from Lyse Doucet and a sixty-six second ‘backgrounder’ which made copious use of the ‘Israel says’ formula.

“It [Israel] has stated the tunnels pose a threat of terrorist attacks against the Israeli population.”

Israel says tunnels like this are being used by militants to infiltrate its territory”. [emphasis added]

Just one July 2014 BBC News website report (from an outside contributor) gave audiences a clear view of the purpose of Hamas’ cross-border tunnels.

“After the failure of Hamas’ rocket forces to inflict significant damage on Israeli towns in November 2012, they decided to build a large offensive-tunnel capability that would enable them to infiltrate assault teams into Israeli villages within a few kilometres of the border or place large bombs underneath these villages.”

Since the summer 2014 conflict, what reporting there has been on the subject of efforts by Hamas and other terror groups to rebuild the network of cross-border tunnels has repeatedly avoided informing audiences of their purpose in the BBC’s own words.

In October 2017 the BBC’s report on a tunnel constructed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad amplified that terror group’s propaganda regarding its purpose. In April 2016 the BBC employed the ‘Israel says’ formula when describing the intended purpose of a Hamas tunnel discovered in the southern part of the border region. In December 2017 the same terminology was seen again.

“…Israel said it had blown up a tunnel from Gaza, which it says was being dug to enable militant attacks” [emphasis added]

Despite that prevailing editorial policy, in January of this year one BBC presenter’s comments during an interview with a senior Hamas official indicated that the corporation is actually well aware of the purpose of those tunnels.

“…you’re not prepared – are you? – to give up your weapons based control of the Gaza Strip and your continued determination to fire rockets into Israel and dig tunnels under your territory into Israeli territory in order to conduct terrorist operations inside Israel.” [emphasis added]

Towards the end of the report readers were told that:

“It was the fifth Gaza tunnel to be destroyed by the Israeli military in recent months, Col [sic] Conricus said.

Some of the tunnels have been built by Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad and others by Hamas, the Islamist group which controls Gaza.”

As was noted here last month when the BBC failed to report the discovery of another tunnel:

“…the BBC has ignored two of the four cross-border tunnels […] that have been destroyed during the past five months, barely mentioned a third and reported problematically on a fourth.”

Had it not ignored 50% of those stories, the BBC would have been able to inform its audiences that just one – rather than “some” – of the five cross border tunnels destroyed since late October 2017 was constructed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and that the other four belonged to Hamas.

Notably, this BBC report once again ignored the issue of Hamas’ diversion of construction materials and funds to the building of cross-border tunnels and as ever, BBC audiences heard nothing whatsoever about the Israeli civilians living adjacent to the border with the Gaza Strip who are under threat from such tunnels. 

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BBC silent on planned PIJ maritime attack

As readers may recall, the ‘Palestinian Center for Human Rights’ (PCHR) was the source of baseless claims concerning ‘war crimes’ which appeared in BBC content less than 24 hours after the beginning of the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas. The group’s director was interviewed by the BBC on several occasions during that conflict and, as has been noted here previously, the PCHR is one of several NGOs uncritically quoted and promoted by the BBC despite being active in the lawfare campaign against Israel.

Moreover, the PCHR was one of the sources used by UNOCHA for the compilation of casualty figures and civilian/combatant ratios in the Gaza Strip during the 2014 conflict. Those figures were unquestioningly quoted, promoted – and even defended – by the BBC without any independent verification having taken place and are still being cited to this day in its content.

On March 12th 2018 the PCHR put out a statement calling upon “the international community, including the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to intervene to stop all Israeli violations against fishermen and allow them to fish freely in the Gaza Sea”. The reason for that statement was the arrests of a number of fishermen near Rafah – described by the PCHR as “Israeli ongoing attacks against Palestinian fishermen”.

Photo credit: IDF Spokesman

On April 4th the background to that story was made public.

“Security forces arrested a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group off the Gaza coast suspected of planning to sink an Israeli naval patrol boat and kidnap any survivors last month, Israel revealed on Wednesday. […]

This plot was foiled on the night of March 12, when the navy’s 916th Patrol Squadron stopped a Palestinian boat that had left the designated Gaza fishing zone. […]

The crew was brought into Israeli custody for questioning, including Amin Saadi Muhammad Jumma’a, 24, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad who told interrogators that he had received instructions from his commanders to prepare to carry out the attack on Israeli Navy ships, according to the Shin Bet and IDF. […]

Jumma’a, a resident of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, told interrogators that the plan was for one boat to act as a diversion by leaving the fishing zone so that a navy ship would approach it.

“A second boat would attack the ship, firing a Kornet (anti-tank) missile at it, with the intention of causing injury and death to the soldiers on board,” the statement said

A third boat would then arrive on the scene and take the wounded soldiers hostage and steal the bodies of those killed, the security forces said.”

Unsurprisingly, BBC audiences have to date seen no reporting at all on that attack planned by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – which is also among the organisers of the ‘Great Return March’.

Whether or not this latest example of the PCHR’s cynical and politicised distortion of events will do anything to convince the BBC that it is not a reliable and unbiased source of information worthy of unquestioning promotion by a corporation committed to accurate and impartial reporting of course remains to be seen.

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BBC Radio 4 dusts off the ‘expert’ hats and ‘disproportionate’ meme

When, in July 2014, a BBC presenter chided an Israeli spokesman for carrying out a military operation in the Gaza Strip rather than trying to arrest members of Hamas using what she termed “surgical strikes of the arresting kind” we noted on these pages that:

“One of the recurrent phenomena associated with media coverage of outbreaks of conflict in this region is the proliferation of journalists who suddenly transform into self-appointed ‘experts’ in military strategy and ‘international law’…”

That practice was evident once again in the March 31st edition of the BBC Radio 4 news and current affairs programme ‘Today which included two items relating to the previous day’s events on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip when mass rioting took place under the guise of a ‘protest’ dubbed the ‘Great Return March’.

In the introduction to the first of those items (from 09:04 here) listeners heard presenter Justin Webb unquestioningly quote information supplied by Hamas – one of the co-organisers of the propaganda stunt. [emphasis in bold added, emphasis in italics in the original]

Webb: “First to events on the border between Gaza and Israel. According to Palestinian officials there are 16 dead, hundreds injured on that border – the worst violence since the war of 2014.”

Webb then brought in the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell who accurately stated that not only is Hamas involved in the organisation of this six-week ‘protest’ but is financing it. Knell also accurately pointed out that the camps set up at five locations by “the Hamas authorities” are “a few hundred meters from the border fence” and that the violent incidents of March 30th began when crowds “started to approach the border fence with Israel” with “people throwing stones and firebombs” and “tampering with the fence”.

However Knell then also went on to unquestioningly promote information supplied by Hamas which there is no evidence of the BBC having independently verified.

Knell: “And there were really hundreds of people who were injured…ahm…along this 40 mile-long Israel-Gaza border. Many of them had bullet wounds.”

Justin Webb then chipped in with his commentary on a filmed incident:

Webb: “Yeah because the IDF have issued a statement saying that there was an infiltration attempt by three terrorists but what we see – what people who were there will have seen – is not a targeted attack on people who are making a concerted effort to get through but just sort of firing through the…through the fence.”

Later on in the conversation Knell stated that “we have to expect further flare-ups” because:

Knell: In the coming weeks we’re going to have Israel celebrating what it sees as its independence day […] but then you have that very controversial move of the US embassy expected on the 14th of May, just ahead of that day that the Palestinians call their Nakba day: the catastrophe day.”

Later on in the same programme (from 01:09:59 here) Justin Webb introduced the second item on the same topic which began with a barely audible telephone interview with PA official Sabri Saydam.

Webb: “Dr Saydam; what is your version of what happened at the border and led to the deaths of 16 people and the wounding of hundreds more?”

Saydam: “As you know, yesterday marked the anniversary – the 42nd anniversary – since the Land Day where 13 Palestinians [sic- actually 6 Arab-Israelis] were shot dead in 1976, which is an annual demonstration arranged by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and this was arranged again yesterday. As you know this year marks 70 years since the Palestinian Nakba – the catastrophe – and almost 51 years since the 1967 war so this was an expression of discontent, a display total despair that exists in the West Bank and Gaza for the prevailance [sic] of the Israeli occupation – the longest occupation [sic] in modern times. So people who are marching in peace, protesting against occupation, Israel [inaudible] with force.”

Webb: “Are you saying that people who were peacefully protesting were fired on? There is evidence of that, is there?”

Saydam: “Absolutely and you can look at the footage that you broadcasted and other networks and you can see that they were peacefully marching. There was no confrontation using armed guns, machine guns. There was no application of violence. If anything, they were carrying just flags and marching towards the fence. This is Gaza where 2 million people are deprived of basic needs and this is Gaza that lives under occupation same as West Bank and East Jerusalem and the continuation of the occupation will yield the results of [inaudible] saw yesterday.”

Webb could at this point have clarified to listeners that the Gaza Strip has not been ‘occupied’ for nearly thirteen years. He could have asked the PA minister about his government’s cutting of electricity and medical care and supplies for the deprived people of Gaza as ways to put pressure on Hamas. He could also – given the fact that this publicity stunt organised by Hamas and other Gaza terror factions rests on the so-called ‘right of return’ – have asked Sabri Saydam if he agrees with that demand aimed at destroying the Jewish state – especially seeing as just over a year ago the BBC provided a platform for Saydam’s repeated insistence that all Palestinians support the two-state solution.

Webb however did none of that. Instead he twice asked whether or not the people taking part in the propaganda stunt should “go home…for their own safety” and listeners heard Saydam promote the falsehood that “this is not a Hamas orchestrated kind of demonstration”.

After Webb had asked a question concerning “the charge…that you are cynically using the lives of civilians, including children, to create the kind of tensions and violence that focuses the attention of the world on this area”, Saydam suddenly disappeared from the broadcast.

Webb then introduced the Israeli ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, and that interview – in which listeners witnessed the return of the well-worn BBC favourite ‘disproportionate’ – can also be heard here.

Webb: “Your troops have fired on civilians, on children. They’ve fired through a fence. That is – is it not? – indefensible.”

After Regev noted that “we can’t allow the Hamas activists to tear down the border fence and enter Israel”, Webb donned his ‘military expert’ hat while misleading listeners about the border fence.

Webb: “You say ‘Hamas activists to tear down the border’: what – and Dr Saydam referred to this – what you’ve seen online in the footage is quite young children, some of whom have been shot, who are not capable of tearing down…this is an electric fence, isn’t it?”

Regev: “You saw attempts to physically destroy the fence. You saw attempts…”

Webb [interrupts]: “But attempts that would not have been successful.”

After Regev had disagreed, pointing out that the ‘protests’ were not spontaneous, Webb interrupted him again.

Webb: “Yeah but whoever it was who sent them, whether they were there voluntarily these youngsters…”

Regev: “They weren’t. It was orchestrated.”

Webb: “Well alright. Even if it was orchestrated, to shoot them, to kill 16 of them, to injure hundreds according to the United Nations with live ammunition – that is not proportionate, is it?”

The United Nations got its information on the casualties from the Hamas-run ministry of health in Gaza but listeners were not given that relevant information.

Regev explained methods of crowd control and again referred to attempted infiltrations but Webb interrupted him once again and yet again misrepresented the border fence.

Webb: “But you have troops – sorry to interrupt you on that – but just thinking about this border, we’re talking about an electrified fence. We’re then talking about a lot of troops behind it – way before there are any Israeli civilians. The idea that there’s someone coming through and about to kill Israeli civilians is just fantasy, isn’t it?”

Some of the Israeli communities in the area are of course located less that a mile from the border that Webb ignorantly described as “way before there are any Israeli civilians”.

Regev: “That’s exactly what they want to do.”

Webb then put on his ‘laws of armed combat expert’ hat:

Webb: “Yes it might be what they want to do but I’m saying to you that actually they would not have been capable of doing it and therefore killing them – particularly killing kids, people running around next to the fence – is disproportionate and probably illegal.”

After Regev had pointed out that if the demonstration had remained in the camps set up – as Yolande Knell previously noted – several hundred meters away from the border nothing would have happened, clarified that Israel withdrew from Gaza over a decade ago and pointed out that Hamas denies Israel’s right to exist, Webb went on to downplay Hamas’ role in the agitprop but made no effort to inform listeners of the involvement of additional terror factions such as the PIJ and DFLP.

Webb: “Dr Saydam was saying it’s not just Hamas – it’s much wider than that and he was pointing out that he’s not a member of Hamas but actually it is a widely felt feeling among the Palestinians that this is the right demonstration at the right time and that they have a right to make it. It’s not just Hamas.”

Following a ‘question’ about a potential UN investigation Webb continued:

Webb: “You have…I mean this is not the first time that Israel has found itself in this situation where you are accused of using hugely disproportionate force and I think what some people – including some friends of Israel – would say is why do you not learn from what happens in these situations? Why is there an inability actually in a sense in practical terms to defend yourself, to defend that border fence, without using live rounds?”

Regev again explained that non-lethal crowd control measures had initially been used before Webb went on:

Webb: “You see you keep saying armed members of Hamas. The people who were killed – almost all of them – and the people who were injured were not armed members of Hamas – were they? – and I don’t think you’re claiming they were. They were civilians.”

That of course is not the case – ten of the sixteen dead on that first day belonged to terror factions – but when Regev tried to reply, Webb once again interrupted him and once again uncritically parroted claims put out by the terror group that co-organised the propaganda stunt.

Webb: “But there are hundreds of people in hospital with gunshot wounds – they weren’t armed members of Hamas, were they?”

The impression of events that Justin Webb was trying to communicate to BBC Radio 4 listeners is blatantly obvious. Webb’s portrayal includes only ‘peaceful protesters’ and “kids… running around next to the fence” and his quoted – but unverified – casualty figures are sourced (as has been the case all too often in the past) from a terror organisation that is party to the violence.

Equally unsurprising is the opportunistic dusting off of the ‘disproportionate’ charge and the miraculous but entirely predictable transformation of a breakfast news show presenter into a self-appointed expert on military strategy and the laws of armed combat.

That, after all, is a pattern that has regularly been seen at the BBC in the past when the terror faction that rules the Gaza Strip has initiated violence. 

 

BBC again fails to adequately clarify Hamas’ role in Gaza border agitprop

On the morning of March 31st the BBC News website report published a report that was originally titled “Gaza-Israel border: UN seeks investigation over protest deaths”. Some seven hours afterwards that headline was changed to “Gaza-Israel border: Palestinians mourn border dead” and, like many versions of an article on the same topic that preceded it, the report refrained from informing BBC audiences that the mass protest on the Gaza border, which on March 30th included numerous violent incidents, was initiated and organised by Hamas and additional terror factions in the Gaza Strip.

Rather, BBC audiences were steered towards the view that this was some kind of spontaneous protest:

“Protesters are returning to a tent city put up near the border in preparation for the demonstration to resume, said AFP news agency. Palestinians have also called a general strike.

Thousands of Palestinians marched to the border at the start of a six-week protest, dubbed the Great March of Return. […]

Palestinians have pitched five camps near the border for the protest, from Beit Hanoun in the north to Rafah near the Egyptian border.”

The BBC’s explanation of the purpose of the six-week stunt was as follows:

“Hundreds were wounded at the start of protests demanding a right for Palestinians to return to former family homes in what is now Israel. […]

The aim of the protest is to assert what Palestinians regard as their right to return to towns and villages from which their families fled, or were driven out, when the state of Israel was created in 1948.”

As in the previous report, no effort was made to inform readers that the Palestinian demand for ‘right of return’ is at odds with the two-state solution or that – as noted by David Horovitz – its aim is to threaten the existence of Israel as the Jewish state.

“Organizing and encouraging mass demonstrations at the border in the so-called “March of Return” to face off against Israeli troops, while sanctimoniously and disingenuously branding the campaign non-violent, is merely the latest iteration of Hamas’s cynical use of Gazans as the human shields for its aggression.

Just in case anybody forgot, demanding a “right of return” to Israel for tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants is nothing less than a call for the destruction of Israel by demographic means. No Israeli government could accept this demand, since it would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish-majority state. Israel’s position is that Palestinian refugees and their descendants would become citizens of a Palestinian state at the culmination of the peace process, just as Jews who fled or were forced out of Middle Eastern countries by hostile governments became citizens of Israel.”

Neither did the BBC bother to inform its audiences that the basis for that demand is a non-binding UN GA resolution dating from December 1948 that was opposed at the time by Arab states and which (despite long-standing BBC claims to that effect) does not specifically relate to Palestinian refugees and – contrary to often heard assertions – does not grant any unconditional ‘right of return’. Rather, it recommends that refugees be allowed to return to their homeland if they wish to “live at peace with their neighbours”.

The BBC’s report also told readers that:

“The UN Security Council condemned the violence after an emergency session.

UN deputy political affairs chief Taye-Brook Zerihoun told the council: “Israel must uphold its responsibilities under international human rights and humanitarian law,” he said.”

Readers were not informed that the UNSC “emergency session” was called by Kuwait (which expelled most of its Palestinian residents in 1991) or that:

“The Security Council meeting was initially held behind closed doors, but it was later moved to an open hearing after it became clear the 15-member body could not agree on a statement condemning the clashes.”

In fact, contrary to the impression given by the BBC, no resolution was issued by the UNSC.

The article closed by telling BBC audiences that:

Riyad Mansour is of course not “[t]he UN envoy for Palestine”: he is a Palestinian envoy to the UN who holds the title “Permanent Observer of Palestine”. BBC Watch has requested a correction to that inaccuracy.

Over twelve hours after its original appearance the article’s headline was amended yet again. The two later versions of the article titled “Gaza-Israel violence: Israel warns of action inside Gaza” included information about the identity of some of the people killed during the previous day’s rioting.

The BBC, however, was apparently unable to find the Hamas statement concerning five members of its Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades for itself and instead resorted to citing second-hand news. Despite having reported the previous day that Omar Samour was described by the IDF as having been engaged in “suspicious activity” near the border fence, the BBC failed to provide that information in this report.

The BBC did not bother to inform its audiences that at least ten of the sixteen people killed during the violent incidents on March 30th were identified as members of terror groups and later on in the article readers were told that:

“Although most protesters stayed in the encampments, some groups of youths ignored organisers’ calls to stay away from the fence and headed closer to Israeli positions.” [emphasis added]

The BBC also continued to avoid telling audiences in its own words that Hamas and additional terror factions initiated and organised the ‘protests’.

“Brig Gen Ronen Manelis told journalists that Hamas – the militant group that controls Gaza – was using Palestinian protests as a cover for launching attacks on Israel. […]

Later Gen Manelis said Friday’s events were “not a protest demonstration” but “organised terrorist activity” by Hamas.

“If it continues, we shall have no choice but to respond inside the Gaza Strip against terrorist targets which we understand to be behind these events,” he said according to AFP news agency.”

Obviously BBC audiences will not be able to understand this story fully if they are not informed by the BBC in its own words that this stunt was initiated organised by Hamas and additional terror factions in the Gaza Strip and if they are not given the full picture regarding the motivation behind Palestinian demands for the so-called ‘right of return’. To date, after three days of reporting on this story, the BBC has failed to provide that essential information. 

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BACKGROUNDER: The Palestinian Claim to a “Right of Return”  (CAMERA) 

 

BBC News claims Gaza stone throwers engaged in ‘peaceful demonstrations’

After having ignored weeks of preparation for the media-orientated publicity stunt dubbed the ‘Great Return March’ organised by Hamas and other terror factions in the Gaza Strip, early on the morning of March 30th the BBC News website published a report originally titled “Shelling ‘kills Palestinian’ in Gaza” on its main homepage, its ‘World’ page and its Middle East page.

Version 2

The second version of that report described the headlined incident – which took place before dawn – as follows:

“A Palestinian farmer has been killed and a second person wounded by Israeli artillery fire, Palestinian health officials and residents say. […]

Witnesses say the dead and injured men were hit by tank shells while collecting parsley in a field, BBC Gaza producer Rushdi Abualouf reports.”

The claim that the man had been “collecting parsley” was seen in a further fifteen versions of the report. In version three the BBC added the statement “The Israeli military said a tank had fired at two suspects after suspicious activity near a security fence” but failed to clarify that the location was actually the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Several earlier versions of the report included comment from the BBC World Service Middle East editor Sebastian Usher who, while clarifying that Hamas is among the organisers of the publicity stunt, failed to adequately explain its aims and background to readers.

Under the sub-heading “What is the protest about?” later versions of the report erased any mention of Hamas’ role in the organisation of the stunt.

No effort was made to clarify to BBC audiences that the Palestinian demand for ‘right of return’ is at odds with the two-state solution proposal which the BBC has repeatedly told its audiences in the past is the “declared goal” of “the international community”. Neither was it clarified that the aim of that demand is to threaten the existence of Israel as the Jewish state.

Version 22

The last four versions of the report – now titled “Gaza-Israel border: Clashes ‘leave 16 Palestinians dead and hundreds injured’” – included an insert that was originally dubbed “analysis” from the BBC Gaza office’s Rushdi Abu Alouf.

BBC audiences were told that the violent rioting seen along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip on March 30th is linked to “difficult economic conditions and the Israeli blockade” rather than agitprop initiated and organised by terror factions.

Notably, while erasing the numerous border infiltrations that have recently taken place (and went unreported by the BBC) from audience view, Abu Alouf breached BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality by opining that “this time Israel’s response was exaggerated”. Readers were also told that Palestinians who “throw stones at the soldiers” are engaged in “peaceful demonstrations”.

That, apparently, is the level of ‘analysis’ the BBC had to offer its audiences while failing to adequately explain to them that this pre-planned publicity stunt was conceived and organised by assorted terror factions, that Hamas is reportedly financing it to the tune of $10 million and that its aim is to create photo-ops which – in the words of the organisers – “the whole world and media outlets would watch”.

Related Articles:

Hamas agitprop requires BBC journalists to brush up on UN resolution

British connections to upcoming Gaza agitprop ignored by BBC News

BACKGROUNDER: The Palestinian Claim to a “Right of Return”  (CAMERA)

 

British connections to upcoming Gaza agitprop ignored by BBC News

Earlier this month we noted plans for an upcoming six-week long stunt dubbed the ‘Great Return March’ that has been organised by factions in the Gaza Strip and is primarily aimed at the international media.

Gaza Strip border area

“In the coming weeks, Hamas plans to set up tent encampments along the Gazan border with Israel, where thousands of the strip’s denizens will be housed, with the intention to march hundreds of Palestinians every day—including the elderly, women and children—to the border fence in “return marches.”

Not least in light of multiple incidents of border infiltration from Gaza during the past week (which have also gone unreported by the BBC), the likelihood of violent incidents is high – as explained by Yoni Ben Menachem:

“Its [Hamas’] basic premise is that the large media presence on the Palestinian side will provide enough protection for the Palestinian marchers to overcome the “fear barrier,” approach the border fence with Israel, and try to cross it.

In Hamas’ estimation, IDF soldiers will act with great caution and won’t use live ammunition due to the media presence among the marchers.

No country in the world would agree to tens of thousands of demonstrators, accompanied by various kinds of media, infiltrating their borders and trying to get into their territory. Hamas is making cynical use of Palestinian refugees living in the Gaza Strip as cannon fodder against the IDF, who have to protect the border fence and cannot allow infiltration.”

In the meantime, the ITIC has noted a British link to Hamas’ plans.

“One of the activists involved in media preparations is Zaher Birawi, a Palestinian activist based in Britain who is affiliated with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and who in the past played a central role in organizing convoys and flotillas to the Gaza Strip.”

Readers may recall that in addition to playing a role in convoys and flotillas,  Zaher Birawi was also involved in the organisation of the 2012 ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ and was previously director of the UK-based Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) – an organisation banned in Israel due to its Hamas affiliations.

Zaher Birawi in Gaza with George Galloway’s 2010 ‘Viva Palestina’ convoy. Photo: ITIC

More recently Birawi has been active in the role of chairman of the London-based EuroPal Forum – an organisation which appears to have replaced the Council for European Palestinian Relations (also banned by Israel) which became defunct after its director – Arafat Shoukri , who was also involved with the Palestinian Return Center – left the UK for Qatar (and a job with Al Jazeera) around 2014.

The JCPA reports that in addition to Birawi:

“…others connected to PRC and its initiatives are joined by other UK Muslim Brotherhood affiliates in the newly launched global “70th anniversary of the Nakba” Campaign. […]

On March 14, 2018, the Popular Conference of Palestinians Abroad held a press conference in Beirut, where it announced the launch of its “70th anniversary of the Nakba” Campaign […]. The campaign is held in cooperation with the Palestinians in Europe Conference […] Ziyad al-Aloul, a senior UK-based activist suspected of affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, serves as spokesman of the Popular Conference of Palestinians Abroad.”

Al Aloul has previously been involved with the Muslim Association of Britain (which was chaired by Birawi between 2001 and 2003) and the ‘European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza’ (ECESG) which participated in the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla and with which Arafat Shoukri was also involved.

The JCPA notes that organisers of the ‘Popular Conference of Palestinians Abroad’ also include Essam Youssef of the UK-based, BBC investigated charity ‘Interpal‘ and Majed al Zeer of the Palestinian Return Center.

Apparently though the BBC does not consider the connections of British based activists and organisations to a potentially incendiary publicity stunt staged by more than one designated terror group to be of interest even to its domestic audiences – and not least British MPs who supported the Palestinian Return Center’s successful bid to gain UN accreditation or those who have in the past been briefed by Zaher Birawi on topics such as “violence in the occupied territories” or attended ‘EuroPal’ events in Parliament.

Related Articles:

Hamas agitprop requires BBC journalists to brush up on UN resolution

Another Hamas cross-border tunnel ignored by the BBC

On March 18th the IDF announced that it had “thwarted an attempt by Hamas to renew an old terror tunnel directed towards the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Israel”. In addition – as reported by the Times of Israel – a separate tunnel that did not cross the border was also destroyed.

credit: IDF

“The Israeli military on Sunday announced that it destroyed two attack tunnels, one that entered Israeli territory and another inside the central Gaza Strip, the latest in a series of underground structures have been demolished by Israel in recent months.

The border-crossing tunnel destroyed early Sunday morning was located in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said. […]

According to Conricus, the cross-border passage destroyed Sunday was an “old tunnel” that was built before the 2014 Gaza war and partially destroyed during the conflict. He said the Hamas terrorist group was trying to “revive” the passage by connecting an intact portion that penetrated Israeli territory to a new tunnel.

The other target, which was destroyed by Israeli fighter jets around midnight on Saturday, was a “subterranean complex” in the central Gaza Strip, according to Conricus.”

The BBC did not cover the story of the discovery and destruction of this latest cross-border tunnel near the Kerem Shalom crossing. Readers may recall that in January the BBC likewise ignored a story concerning another tunnel near the same location.

On October 30th 2017 a tunnel belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was destroyed and while the BBC did report that story, its portrayal of the structure’s purpose was ambiguous. On December 10th 2017 the IDF destroyed a tunnel belonging to Hamas. The BBC did not produce any dedicated reporting on that story and the only mention of it came in half a sentence in an article on a different topic.

In other words, the BBC has ignored two of the four cross-border tunnels (one belonging to the PIJ and three to Hamas) that have been destroyed during the past five months, barely mentioned a third and reported problematically on a fourth.

Related Articles:

No BBC reporting on latest Hamas cross-border tunnel

Palestinian Islamic Jihad clarifies what the BBC did not

BBC News conceals part of a story on Hamas tunnels

BBC News continues to link terror to US embassy move

On the afternoon of March 16th a vehicular attack took place near Mevo Dotan.

“A Palestinian driver hit four Israeli soldiers with his car Friday afternoon, killing an officer and a soldier and seriously injuring the others, outside the Mevo Dotan settlement in the northern West Bank. One of the injured soldiers suffered severe head trauma and was fighting for his life.

The military confirmed that the incident was a terror attack. It said the troops were hit while standing near a military guard post.”

A few hours later the BBC News website published a report headlined “Israeli soldiers killed in West Bank car attack” on its Middle East page.  

In line with standard BBC practice, the word terror does not appear anywhere in this report.

“A Palestinian man has driven his car into a group of Israeli troops in the north of the occupied West Bank, killing an officer and a soldier, the Israeli military says. […]

Two other soldiers were injured in the incident.” [emphasis added]

Readers were not told that at the time the article was published, one of the injured soldiers was in serious condition after suffering severe head trauma. Neither were they informed that the terrorist received treatment in an Israeli hospital after the incident.

“The suspect fled from the scene but was later detained. Reports said he was lightly injured.”

The report states:

“The Israeli military said the soldiers had been securing routes near the settlement of Mevo Dotan.”

Readers were not informed that the soldiers were securing that route because – as the Jerusalem Post and others reported:

“Palestinian protesters had been throwing rocks and molotov cocktails toward the road”.  

The BBC did, however, include its standard partial mantra on ‘international law’ in the report.

“The incident happened near the Jewish settlement of Mevo Dotan, west of the Palestinian town of Jenin. […]

The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

As has so often been the case in BBC reports relating to Palestinian terrorism and violence published since early December 2017, this article suggests linkage between the attack and US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel over three months ago.

“The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas hailed the car-ramming incident but did not say it was behind it.

The incident happened amid high tension on Friday after Hamas called for protests to mark 100 days since US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

Hamas had in fact called for a ‘Day of Rage’ rather than “protests” and the attack was also praised by additional Palestinian factions: the PIJ, the DFLP and the PFLP.

The report goes on:

“The US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but has infuriated Palestinians.

The declaration broke with decades of US neutrality on the issue and put it out of step with the rest of the international community.”

In fact, the US Congress of course voted to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital over two decades ago.

The BBC’s article closes with a quote from an AFP report:

“More than 30 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed in violence since Mr Trump’s declaration, AFP reported.”

Once again, readers were not told how many of the Palestinians killed were engaged in terror attacks or violent rioting at the time and the BBC refrained from clarifying that a higher number of  Israelis were murdered in terror attacks by Palestinians in the three months before the US president made his declaration than in the three months since. 

Related Articles:

BBC News goes from not reporting car rammings as terror to not reporting at all

BBC News continues to blame Palestinian violence on US

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ promotes equivalence between violent rioters and victims of terror