Just after 5 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, October 21st residents of some of the northern communities in the Golan Heights were woken by the sound of the siren warning of incoming projectiles from Syria. Israel subsequently responded to the incident.
“The Israeli army on Saturday hit three Syrian artillery targets across the border in the northern Golan Heights, hours after five projectiles landed in open ground in Israel as a result of spillover fire from the fighting in Syria.
The IDF vowed it would intensify its responses to future such stray fire. “Even if this is just spillover, this is an exceptional incident and the continuance of such events will be met with a more fierce Israeli response,” a statement by the IDF said.”
As the day progressed, however, assessment of the incident altered.
“Israel believes five rockets fired across the border from Syria early Saturday morning may have been deliberately launched at Israel, rather than constituting errant spillover from clashes in Syria, military sources said late Saturday. […]
The Israeli army said five projectiles were fired at around 5 am, and that four of them fell relatively deep inside Israeli territory. The rockets set off alarms in several locations. They landed in open ground, and caused no injury or damage. One of them landed close to an Israeli residential area.
Channel 2 news reported that although the IDF officially referred to “spillover” fire in its statements Saturday, there was “a growing sense” in the army that the Syrian fire was deliberate.
There was no fighting going on in Syria at the time of the fire, the TV report said. It added that the area from which the rockets were fired is under the control of the Syrian army. And it noted that the projectiles fell deep inside Israeli territory on the Golan Heights, one after the other, rather than close to the border.”
Meanwhile, as usually happens in such cases, the Syrian regime promoted baseless conspiracy theory.
“Syria…claimed that Israel had “coordinated” with terror groups, inviting them to fire into Israel as a pretext for the IDF response, and it sent letters of complaint to the United Nations.”
While the BBC’s English language services did not consider the story newsworthy, the corporation’s Arabic language website did publish a report headlined “Israel bombs Syrian artillery in the Golan” in which – once again – the Syrian regime’s propaganda was uncritically amplified.
“The Syrian Defense Ministry said the armed opposition had fired missiles at Israeli-controlled areas to provoke them to retaliate against the Syrian army. […]
The bombing of the terrorists, acting under the direction of Israel, is a free zone to provide an excuse for this attack,” the ministry said.”
Earlier this year, when the BBC World Service began expanding its foreign language services following a £289 million boost in funding provided by the British tax-payer, the BBC’s Director General said:
“The BBC World Service is one of the UK’s most important cultural exports. In a world of anxieties about ‘fake news’, where media freedom is being curtailed rather than expanded, the role of an independent, impartial news provider is more important than ever.”
BBC World Service Director Francesca Unsworth added:
“For more than 80 years the BBC World Service has brought trusted news to people across the globe.”
As those two senior BBC executives acknowledge, it is supposed to be the job of the BBC – including BBC Arabic and other foreign language services – to distinguish itself from the countless media outlets in the Middle East that operate according to a particular political or ideological agenda by providing audiences with accurate and impartial reporting which will enable them to understand what is fact and what is fiction.
Uncritical and unchallenged amplification of Syrian regime propaganda that audiences could just as easily find at the Syrian State news agency is clearly not conducive to achieving that goal.