BBC source featured in report on links between terror groups and NGOs

As readers may recall, the ‘Palestinian Center for Human Rights’ (PCHR) was the source of baseless allegations of Israeli ‘war crimes’ which appeared in BBC content less than 24 hours after the start 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 they continue to be cited in its content.

The PCHR is one of the organisations appearing (see page 54 here) in a report recently published by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs which documents links between terrorist organisations and NGOs promoting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

The BBC never did provide its funding public with a satisfactory explanation as to why it uncritically promoted the PCHR’s unproven allegations of ‘war crimes’ literally from day one of the 2014 conflict or why its reporting on casualty figures was based on unverified information provided by the PCHR and other organisations which make no secret of the fact that they are active in a political campaign of lawfare against Israel.

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Revisiting a 2014 BBC report by Jon Donnison

BBC quoted and promoted NGO supports cash for terror

Even as international awareness grows concerning the issue of Palestinian Authority’s provision of salaries to convicted terrorists and payments to the families of terrorists killed in the act, the BBC has yet to provide its funding public with any serious reporting on that subject. Indeed, as recently as May the BBC’s Middle East editor amplified Palestinian Authority messaging when he told audiences that:

“He [Netanyahu] was referring to a Palestinian Martyrs’ fund. It pays pensions to people it regards as victims of the occupation, including the families of individuals who have been killed attacking Israelis. There is also a fund to support Palestinians who have been imprisoned by Israel. The Palestinians have compared the payments to the salaries Israel pays to soldiers.” [emphasis added]

In early June the Palestinian Authority reportedly halted payments to some former prisoners – for the most part linked to Hamas – residing in the Gaza Strip. However, that move apparently had more to do with the tensions between Hamas and the PA that have also seen Mahmoud Abbas reduce PA payments for electricity and medical care for Gaza residents than with any change of policy regarding the salaries for convicted terrorists.  

Nevertheless, the move brought criticism from assorted ‘human rights’ groups, as documented by NGO Monitor.

“…a number of Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) receiving European government funding under the banner of human rights assert that terrorists have a “right” to receive salaries and that suspending these payments is a violation of international law. NGO officials have also not questioned the legitimacy of violent responses by the Palestinian street, and some of their statements can be interpreted as veiled threats of violence meant to prevent an end to payments.”

One of those NGOs is the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR).

“On July 25, 2017, the PCHR organized a workshop on “Consequences of Former Prisoners’ Salary Suspension on their Economic and Social Rights.” PCHR director, Raji Sourani, stated that “the decision of suspending former prisoners’ salaries was shocking to the prisoners, their families and all Palestinians as it is illegal, immoral, and violates the Basic Law and the international human rights law.””

As readers may recall, the PCHR was the source of dubious 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.

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 and are still being cited to this day in its content.

Now we learn that the PCHR director – described to audiences by the BBC’s Middle East editor as “a Palestinian human rights campaigner” – is of the opinion that terrorists who murder Israeli civilians have a ‘human right’ to generous monthly cash payments.  

Whether or not that will do anything to convince the BBC that the PCHR is not a reliable and unbiased source of information worthy of unchallenged promotion by a media organisation committed to accurate and impartial reporting is of course highly doubtful.

Revisiting the BBC News website’s PFLP profile

Following the terror attack at the Kehilat Ya’akov Synagogue in the Har Nof neighbourhood of Jerusalem on November 18th 2014, the BBC News website produced a profile of the organisation with which the two terrorists were affiliated.Pigua Har Nof PFLP art

Two years later, that profile remains online with its inaccurate main illustrative photograph. The article’s presentation of the number of Israelis murdered in the Har Nof attack is also inaccurate: [emphasis added]

“It was also not clear how involved the PFLP leadership had been in the attack in November 2014 that saw two members of the group armed with axes storm a synagogue complex in West Jerusalem and kill four rabbis in the middle of their morning prayers.

A statement by the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades praised the “heroic operation” by Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, but did not specify whether the cousins had been instructed to carry out the attack.”

In fact, five people (four worshippers and a policeman) were killed during the attack and one additional victim succumbed to his wounds a year later but the BBC’s article has not been updated accordingly.

The article refrains from describing the PFLP as a terrorist organisation in the BBC’s own words, with that definition attributed to Israeli authorities in quotation marks:

“The PFLP leader was subsequently sentenced to 30 years in an Israeli prison for heading an “illegal terrorist organisation”…” 

Readers of the profile are not informed that the PFLP is defined as a proscribed terror organisation by the United States, Canada, Israel and the EU.

NGO Monitor recently produced a report concerning the financial support provided to various NGOs linked to the PFLP.

“Many European countries fund a network of organizations, some of which are directly affiliated with the PFLP, and others with a substantial presence of employees and officials linked to the PFLP. The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) include Addameer, Al-Haq, Alternative Information Center (AIC), Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), Health Work Committee (HWC), Stop the Wall, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). […]

Donors to the NGOs include the EU, the governments of Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Ireland, UK, Netherland, Germany, Belgium, France, and Switzerland, and the United Nations. Continued funding raises serious questions about due diligence and evaluation on the part of the governments and the UN, as well as compliance with domestic and international laws.”

Some of those NGOs have been directly or indirectly quoted and promoted by the BBC in its Middle East coverage – for example Addameer, Al Haq, Defence for Children International – Palestine and of course the PCHR, which received particularly extensive exposure during the 2014 conflict between Israel and terror organisations in the Gaza Strip and which was one of the sources behind the casualty figures amplified by the BBC at the time.

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BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”  

Source of BBC’s ‘war crimes’ allegations lies about Palestinian victim of terror

As our CAMERA colleague Tamar Sternthal recently noted, a Palestinian victim of a terror attack which took place at Alon Shvut junction on November 18thShadi Arafa from Hebron – has been falsely described by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) as having been killed by Israeli forces.

PCHR Arafa

As readers may recall, the PCHR was one of the sources relied upon by UNOCHA for the compilation of casualty figures and civilian/combatant ratios in the Gaza Strip during the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas. Those figures were unquestioningly quoted, promoted – and defended – by the BBC without any independent verification.

Moreover, the PCHR was the source of serious allegations concerning ‘war crimes’ which appeared in BBC content less than 24 hours after the beginning of the conflict and the organisation’s head was interviewed by the BBC on several occasions.

As has been noted here previously, the PCHR is one of several NGOs uncritically quoted and promoted by the BBC which is active in the lawfare campaign against Israel.

Of course the PCHR also promoted inaccurate claims concerning the cause of the death of Omar Masharawi in 2012.

“Readers no doubt recall the tragic incident in which the infant son of a BBC employee was killed in November 2012 by what the BBC – and the PCHR – claimed at the time was an Israeli airstrike.

“…an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a house… Two members of the family (a woman and a toddler) were killed: Hiba Aadel Fadel al-Masharawi, 19, and Omar Jihad al-Masharawi, 11 months.  Additionally, a child from the same family was wounded”.

A UN HRC report later determined that the deaths had been caused by a short-falling missile fired by one of the terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip.”

It remains to be seen whether this latest example of PCHR dishonesty will do anything to convince the BBC that it is not a reliable and unbiased source of information worthy of unchallenged promotion by a corporation committed to accurate and impartial reporting.

 

 

Documenting the BBC contribution to political warfare against Israel

On July 17th NGO Monitor informed us of the fact that:

“Following Israel’s response to hundreds of attacks launched from Gaza, the network of international, Palestinian, and Israeli-Arab NGOs have initiated a campaign to replicate the discredited “Goldstone process” of political warfare against Israel, including:

    • calling for UN and international “fact-finding missions” to investigate alleged Israeli “war crimes and crimes against humanity”;
    • lobbying for International Criminal Court (ICC) “war crimes” cases against Israeli officials;
    • promoting arms embargos against Israel

The NGOs leading this campaign include Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, FIDH, a coalition of Palestinian NGOs (including Al-Haq, Al Mezan, Badil, Defence for Children International- Palestine Section, Palestinian Center for Human Rights), and of Israeli-Arab NGOs (such as the NIF-funded Adalah and Mossawa).” [emphasis added]

The rest of NGO Monitor’s important report can be found here.

Readers no doubt recognize the names of the two highlighted NGOs above – Al Mezan and PCHR. They are two of the “primary sources” upon which UN OCHA recently told BBC Watch it relies for casualty figures in the Gaza Strip.  Describing them as “United Nations” figures, the BBC in turn quotes and promotes those UN OCHA statistics without any independent verification of its own and fails to inform audiences that they are sourced from political NGOs.

On at least four occasions since July 9th the BBC has provided a platform for the promotion and amplification of political messaging under the guise of ‘human rights’ from the PCHR’s Raji Sourani – see here, here, here and here.  

The PCHR and Al Mezan (together with another Palestinian NGO) had already released a joint statement on July 9th which makes their engagement in ‘lawfare‘ and their campaign to delegitimize Israel on the international stage for political and military purposes perfectly clear. They have also published individual statements – see here and here. Nevertheless, despite their clearly partisan stance, UN OCHA still uses them as “primary sources” and the BBC repeatedly lends its publicly funded resources, its outreach and its reputation to the PCHR’s political campaign.

The third “primary source” for those UN OCHA Gaza casualty figures unquestioningly quoted and promoted by the BBC is B’Tselem which has also released statements on the subject of the conflict. Unsurprisingly, that organisation’s new director was featured in a video report published on the BBC News website on July 16th under the titleIsraeli air strike warnings: What the footage tells usand apparently also broadcast on BBC television news programmes.BBC Hagai Elad B'Tselem

Whilst it depicts some of the methods used by Israel to warn civilians of upcoming military actions such as leafleting, telephone calls and ‘roof-knocking’, as well as showing a strike being aborted due to the presence of a civilian, the video report also states:

“But as the Palestinian death toll rises, some say the warnings don’t always come.”

Notably, the report avoids all mention of the fact that it is a certainty that there are civilians who really are being indiscriminately targeted in this conflict – the citizens of Israel.

The report goes on:

“While human rights groups say – warning or no warning – air strikes in civilian areas are never justified.”

Footage then cuts to Hagai Elad of B’Tselem saying:

“The fact that an individual is associated with a Palestinian military group does not make the apartment of that person into a military target nor does it make the entire building with all the other apartments there into a military target.”

Once again this report quotes statements from UN OCHA which there is no evidence to suggest have been independently verified by the BBC.

“But the United Nations says the majority of those killed in Gaza have been civilians”

Notably, whilst this report promotes the claims of “human rights groups” regarding Israel’s actions, it does not make any effort to present a professional legal view on the topic or to inform audiences of the political agenda of those “human rights groups”.

The fact that the BBC is providing publicity, promotion and amplification for political NGOs engaged in anti-Israel campaigning through ‘lawfare’ to influence public opinion is one which is completely incompatible with its commitment – and obligation – to impartial reporting.

Related Articles:

Promoted and quoted: the BBC’s preferred Middle East NGOs

 

 

 

BBC’s Bowen promotes accusations of Israeli ‘war crimes’

On July 14th the BBC News website’s Middle East page promoted a filmed report by Jeremy Bowen under the title “Israel-Gaza conflict enters seventh day” which was also aired on the BBC World News programme ‘Newsday’.Bowen 14 7 Newsday Sourani

In that report the PCHR’s Raji Sourani is once again given a BBC platform from which to promote his unproven allegations.

Bowen: “Back in Gaza in the bombed fishing port, Raji Sourani – a Palestinian human rights campaigner – said Israel’s tactic of destroying the homes of men it says are Hamas fighters guarantees it will also kill non-combatants: neighbours, families, children.”

Sourani: “They know they committed war crimes, crimes against humanity – and deliberately. Intending to destroy houses where civilians living in it that’s totally illegal in a clear-cut way Geneva Convention article 52 paragraph 3.”

Bowen makes no effort to inform viewers that Sourani’s interpretation of Article 52 is less than “clear-cut” with regard to buildings used, for example, as weapons stores or missile launching sites.  

Seeing as this report is the fourth item of BBC content in less than a week which has promoted assorted unproven accusations made by Raji Sourani of the PCHR and seeing as the BBC does not apparently consider it necessary to wait for any kind of investigation or proof before broadcasting and amplifying Sourani’s grave accusations concerning the ‘deliberate targeting of civilians’, ‘war crimes’ or ‘crimes against humanity’, it is obviously imperative to take a closer look at the record of Mr Sourani and his organization.

That necessity is further compounded by the fact that as was recently revealed here, the UN OCHA civilian casualty figures which the BBC is currently quoting across the board are based on information coming from three primary sources, one of which is Mr Sourani’s PCHR.

Founded in Gaza City in 1995, the PCHR rejects the Oslo Accords and promotes the ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees. It consistently refers to the IDF as IOF (‘Israel Occupation Force’) and engages in‘lawfare’ – including lobbying against the changes made to the ‘universal jurisdiction’ law by the British Parliament. The PCHR also engages in the use of the ‘apartheid’ trope and accusations of the ‘Judaisation’ of Jerusalem and ‘ethnic cleansing’. In 2000 the PCHR described Hizballah as “the legitimate Lebanese resistance against Israeli occupation in Lebanon”, comparing the Iranian-backed terror organization to the French Resistance during World War II. In 2010 the PCHR claimed that the rededication of the restored Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem (destroyed by the Jordanian Arab Legion in 1948) was a “war crime”. 

After Operation Cast Lead in 2008/9 the PCHR alleged that “1,167 non-combatants (82.2%) and 252 resistance activists (17.8%)” were killed. As is well known, even the Hamas Minister of the Interior later admitted that between 600 and 700 of the casualties were members of Hamas and other terrorist groups; figures which matched the Israeli assessment of 709 casualties from terrorist factions.

Throughout that same operation, the PCHR put out statements claiming that Israel was committing “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” and engaging in “collective punishment” and “indiscriminate killing”. When Richard Goldstone retracted the substance of his ‘Goldstone Report’ on Operation Cast Lead, Raji Sourani attributed that to a “psychological war orchestrated by Jewish and Israeli groups”.

After Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012, the PCHR claimed that 105 of 160 casualties were civilians. A study by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre showed that 101 of 169 casualties identified (60%) belonged to terrorist organisations.

Readers no doubt recall the tragic incident in which the infant son of a BBC employee was killed in November 2012 by what the BBC – and the PCHR – claimed at the time was an Israeli airstrike.

“…an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a house… Two members of the family (a woman and a toddler) were killed: Hiba Aadel Fadel al-Masharawi, 19, and Omar Jihad al-Masharawi, 11 months.  Additionally, a child from the same family was wounded”.

A UN HRC report later determined that the deaths had been caused by a short-falling missile fired by one of the terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip.Bowen 14 7 Newsday PCHR pic

In short, the record of Mr Sourani and his organization clearly shows a distinct lack of reliability and objectivity, as well as clear political motivation behind figures provided, statements given and accusations made. Whilst many people may perhaps expect nothing less from an organization which operates under the assumed mantle of ‘human rights’ whilst inviting a leader from an internationally designated terrorist organization to one of its conferences, for the BBC (and UN OCHA) the penny has obviously not yet dropped.

Mind you, that may well be explained by Bowen’s closing statement in this report.

“Smoke from burning buildings spread across Gaza as Palestinians buried men they said were fighting in a legitimate resistance. Israel calls them terrorists.”

So does the United States, the European Union, Canada and Japan – as the BBC’s own profile of Hamas clearly states and as any journalist with integrity would report. In addition, Jordan and Egypt have banned Hamas and Australia designates Hamas’ Izz al Din Al Qassam Brigades as a terrorist organization, as do New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The irreversible damage being done by Jeremy Bowen to the BBC’s reputation as a provider of accurate and impartial news over the last five days since his arrival in the Gaza Strip continues to pile up. 

 

 

Third example of BBC promotion of the lie that Israel deliberately targets civilians

In the past couple of days we have already documented here two instances of BBC promotion and amplification of the false claim that Israel deliberately targets civilians in the Gaza Strip (see here and here) in written reports on the BBC News website.Knell filmed PCHR

On July 9th the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell produced a filmed report – broadcast to television audiences around the world and also promoted to millions more on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza death toll rises as air strikes continue” – which amplified and promoted the same inaccurate claim from the head of a political NGO – the PCHR.

In that report, the BBC aired footage of Raji Sourani saying:

“This is a third consecutive war against Gaza since 2008 and Israel always, I mean, do target the civilians and they are in the eye of the storm.”

In actual fact, Israel of course does its utmost to avoid civilian casualties in a territory in which terrorists fire missiles from, and store military grade weapons in, residential areas – turning the local civilian population into human shields.

On three separate occasions now the BBC has deliberately amplified what it knows full well to be a lie propagated for the purpose of political propaganda.  That is not accurate and impartial journalism: it is self-conscription to the public relations campaign of a terrorist organisation and its supporters.  

 

BBC News promotes and amplifies falsehood that Israel deliberately targets civilians

The BBC News website’s main article on the second day of Operation Protective Edge –July 9th – underwent amendment numerous times (available to view here) until reaching its fourteenth and final version. Currently going under the title “Hamas fires rockets amid Israeli air strikes on Gaza“, its first four versions were titled “Hamas fires rockets at Israeli cities after Gaza offensive”, thus misleadingly suggesting to BBC audiences that the firing of missiles by terrorists from the Gaza Strip is a response to Israeli actions, rather than the exact opposite, which is actually the case.Op PE main art 9 7

The first eleven versions of that article used the sub-heading “War crime” – as did the previous day’s main report – in the section of the report relating to the incident on the morning of July 8th in Khan Younis in which Palestinians acting as ‘human shields’ were killed after a warning had been given to the building’s occupants to vacate the premises.

The report’s final version was not updated to include accurate figures.

“Israel said it had intercepted 15 rockets on Wednesday, including eight over Tel Aviv, Ashkelon and Ashdod.” […]

“It [the IDF] said 117 rockets had hit Israel on Tuesday, with the Iron Dome interceptor system shooting down 20. Three rockets landed around Jerusalem.” […]

“Some 48 rockets were fired at Israel on Wednesday, the military said. Iron Dome intercepted two rockets above Tel Aviv on Wednesday morning, three over Ashkelon and three over Ashdod.

The town of Hadera 100km (60 miles) north of Gaza, was also attacked, with an M-302 surface-to-surface rocket, the furthest target so far reached.”

The figures provided by the IDF are actually as follows:

Tuesday July 8th: 117 missiles fired from the Gaza Strip hit Israel. A further 29 (not 20 as the BBC claims) were intercepted.

Wednesday July 9th: 90 missiles (not 48 as the BBC claims) fired from the Gaza Strip hit Israel. A further 24 (not 15 as claimed by the BBC) were intercepted.

No explanation is provided to readers regarding the origins of that M-302 missile which hit Hadera and they are not informed that a shipment of such Syrian-made missiles was intercepted as recently as March of this year or of Iran’s role in the smuggling of such weapons to the Gaza Strip.

With regard to Palestinian casualties, this report does at least acknowledge that some are not civilians, although it does not inform readers that they are terrorists.

“Reports from Gaza said at least eight people had been killed in the latest Israeli air strikes.

Gaza officials say 35 Palestinians have now died in the recent hostilities, with 150 more injured.

The officials say half of the casualties are civilians, a number of them women and children.”

Under the sub-heading ‘No safe haven’, the report promotes and amplifies what the BBC knows full well to be a baseless allegation from an official belonging to what it equally well knows is a politically motivated NGO.

“The head of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, Raji Sourani, accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians.

He told the BBC: “There is no safe haven in this place and Palestinian civilians are once again in the eye of the storm and are paying heavily. Israelis.. are trying to pressure militant groups through targeting civilians.” ” [emphasis added]

A report produced by UN OCHA on the same day as this article was published – July 9th – clearly states in relation to the subject of civilian casualties:

“In most cases, prior to the attacks, residents have been warned to leave, either via phone calls by the Israel military or by the firing of warning missiles.”

In fact, the IDF usually used both methods of prior warning, as well as leafleting. No effort is made by the BBC, however, to inform audiences of those attempts to safeguard civilians. Likewise, no attempt is made to clarify to readers that the residential buildings targeted are dual-use buildings which also serve as command and control centres for terrorist organisations and/or missile launching/storage.

Equally absent from this BBC report – and other – is clarification to audiences on the issue of Hamas’ use of ‘human shields’: a practice which of course deliberately escalates the number of civilian casualties for propaganda purposes. Below is an interview dating from the first day of the operation – July 8th – on Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV with Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zukhri in which – instead of urging civilians to take cover, he promotes the ‘human shield’ strategy.  

Neither is any mention made of the practice by Hamas and other terrorist organisations of storing and firing missiles in residential areas, thus endangering the local population.

Another notable aspect of this BBC report is its very brief and anodyne reference to the part being played by the Palestinian Authority in current events.

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded that Israel immediately stop the raids on Gaza and appealed for calm.”

The BBC does not inform audiences that Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party has posted incitement and inflammatory messaging on its social media accounts or that Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have claimed responsibility for some of the hundreds of missiles fired at Israeli civilian targets.

Fatah Facebook 9 7

So as we see, in addition to amplifying Hamas propaganda on “war crimes” and the false claim that Israel deliberately targets civilians, this article deliberately avoids telling BBC audiences about a whole variety of issues of which they need to be informed in order to fully understand the subject to which the report supposedly relates.