On January 13th the IDF announced that with the discovery of a sixth tunnel, it had completed the mission to expose the tunnels dug by the Lebanese terror organisation Hizballah which passed under the international border, infiltrating Israeli territory.
“The tunnel, which had been dug at a depth of 55 meters (180 feet), was the most important one detected since the operation began in December, IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said.
According to him, the stairs were built in the tunnel which contained “railroads to transport equipment, garbage, lighting equipment and ladders to enter Israeli territory. A lot of resources were invested in this tunnel.”
With the latest tunnel discovered and its destruction in the coming days, he added, “the threat posed by the tunnels has been eliminated.” […]
While the military announced the end of the operation, it noted that it “is simultaneously monitoring several locations where Hezbollah is digging underground structures which have yet to cross into Israel.””
With Operation Northern Shield now coming to an end, this is an appropriate time to review the accuracy and impartiality of the BBC’s coverage of that story throughout the six weeks of the mission.
The story of an internationally recognised terrorist group tunneling under an international border into a neighbouring country with the intention of carrying out a large-scale attack actually got remarkably little BBC coverage.
Visitors to the BBC News website saw two reports throughout the six-week operation:
BBC News omits crucial background from report on IDF operation December 4th 2018
More lazy BBC reporting on Hizballah’s tunnels December 19th 2018
Listeners to BBC World Service radio’s ‘Newshour’ programme also heard two reports on the same days:
Razia Iqbal: “Well given that a war with Israel would not be in the interests of Hizballah, one wonders about the…err…the accuracy or the factual accuracy of those tunnels being potentially used for the way in which Israel is alleging that Hizballah might use them.”
Razia Iqbal: “Why do you think that Israel has made the announcement of cutting off these tunnels today? Is there any sense that this is a diversionary tactic to take attention away from Benjamin Netanyahu’s shaky coalition?”
BBC WS radio’s ‘World Update’ misleads on UN SC resolution 1701 December 19th 2018
The BBC’s domestic Radio 4 audiences heard one report the day after the story broke:
A BBC Radio 4 presenter ‘explains’ UN SC resolution 1701 December 5th 2018
Ritula Shah: “UN Security Council 1701, by the way, called for a full cessation of hostilities in the month-long war between Israel and Hizballah back in 2006.”
Ritula Shah: “Mr Netanyahu’s critics argue that he’s using the discovery of the tunnels to bolster his image at a time when his governing coalition is faltering and he faces mounting legal problems.”
In addition to Razia Iqbal’s unwarranted questioning of the purpose of the tunnels and the promotion by both her and Ritula Shah of the baseless notion that the operation was motivated by political considerations, audiences saw three main characteristics throughout the BBC’s reporting on this story.
In all but the first BBC News website report – where the information was added later – audiences were not given an accurate portrayal of Hizballah’s designation as a terror organisation by numerous countries and bodies. The subject of Iran’s funding and supplying of the terror organisation was grossly downplayed in the two written articles and ignored in the three audio reports.
In all of the reports the crucially relevant topic of UN Security Council resolution 1701 was either completely ignored or inadequately presented. Not one of the five BBC reports gave audiences an accurate explanation of that resolution or how it has been repeatedly violated by Hizballah for over twelve years. Moreover, in the second BBC WS radio report listeners were inaccurately led to believe that the only violation of that resolution comes in the form of tunnels that cross into Israeli territory.
Relatedly, BBC audiences were not given the full picture of the UN peacekeeping force’s failure to identify cross-border tunnels dug over a significant period of time literally under its nose and its serial failure to prevent violations of the UNSC resolution. In the second BBC WS radio report a UNIFIL spokesman’s statements went unchallenged.
Martin Patience: “Israel has accused the United Nations peacekeeping force which patrols the border area of turning a blind eye to the movement but Andrea Tenenti, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force, says that the troops are doing their job.”
Not only was it suggested to audiences in forty percent of the BBC’s reporting that Operation Northern Shield was actually a cynical politically motivated exercise but the corporation failed throughout six whole weeks to produce even one item which would provide its funding public with the full range of background information necessary for proper understanding of the story of a complex operation which, had it been managed and executed less efficiently, could have sparked a major conflict.