BBC News promotes political NGO’s commentary on Gaza video

On April 10th the BBC News website posted two items relating to the same topic: a written report titled “Israeli minister praises viral video sniper” (which was also promoted on social media) and a filmed report headlined “Israeli soldier shoots Palestinian on Gaza border“.

In the written report the account of the story given to BBC audiences is as follows:

“Footage of the incident, in which a soldier expresses joy at having captured it on film, drew condemnation from politicians and rights groups.

Israel’s military said the man who was shot had been orchestrating a riot, and he was hit in the leg.

It said the soldiers involved in the filming will be dealt with.

In the video broadcast on Monday, three men are seen nearing a barrier or fence. The crack of an apparent gunshot is heard and one of the men, who had been standing still and appeared to be unarmed, falls to the ground.

A voice is heard to exuberantly declare in Hebrew: “Wow, what a video. Yes! Son of a bitch! What a video!”

A crowd of people are then seen rushing to retrieve the man who was shot. His condition is not clear.”

The article goes on to paraphrase a statement put out by the IDF:

“In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said the incident had taken place on 22 December, 2017, in the area of the Israeli community of Kissufim, close to the Gaza border.

It said the video “depicts a short part of the response to a violent riot”, and “a single bullet” was fired after other attempts to stop the violence had failed.”

The IDF statement actually said that the video “records a short part of the handling of violent disturbances that included stone-throwing and attempts to sabotage the fence and carried on for some two hours”. The statement went on to clarify that during that time, steps had been taken to disperse the rioters including verbal and loudspeaker calls to them to stop, the use of riot control methods and shooting in the air and that when none of those means was effective, a single bullet was fired at one of those suspected of organising and leading the rioting when he was a few meters from the fence and that he was wounded in the leg.

The BBC’s account went on:

“The statement did not comment on the sniper but said the “unauthorised filming” by another soldier, and the distribution of the footage and comments heard on the tape “do not suit the degree of restraint expected of IDF soldiers”.

It said those issues would “be dealt [with] by commanders accordingly”.”

In fact the IDF statement clarifies that “the video was not filmed from the position from which the shooting was carried out and was filmed by a soldier who does not organically belong to the unit that fired.”

In other words, the BBC’s account does not adequately clarify to audiences that the voice it describes as ‘exuberant’ does not belong to the soldiers engaged in attempts to control the rioting. Despite numerous media outlets having reported on the extensive rioting along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip on that specific day, the BBC also refrains from describing the events as such in its own words.

The article closes with the following description of the more recent rioting at the same border:

“The case comes at a time of heightened tensions over Gaza.

Israel has faced mounting criticism for shooting dozens of Palestinian, many fatally, during clashes at protests along the border in the past two weeks.

Israel has defended its actions, saying it has only used live fire against individuals trying to breach the border fence, or those using weapons or explosives.”

In the synopsis to the BBC’s filmed report the rioting that is the context to the story is likewise described in unnecessarily qualified terms and it is not adequately clarified to audiences that the soldiers “heard…cheering” are not those engaged in attempts to control the rioting.

“The Israeli Defense Force say a Palestinian who is seen being shot in a viral video was a man who had led a “violent riot.”

The video of the incident, which the IDF says happened in December 2017, first emerged on Monday.

Soldiers can be heard in the footage excitedly discussing their target and cheering after the shot.”

In the video itself the background to the story is again portrayed in scare quotes:

“The Israeli military said this event took place in December 2017 and the target was suspected of organizing a “violent riot”.

Viewers are also told that:

“A leading Israeli rights group said it had little faith in any military investigation.”

Although, for reasons unclear, that “rights group” is not named, the BBC appears to be paraphrasing its most quoted and promoted political NGO, B’tselem.

In other words, the BBC’s idea of ‘impartial’ reporting is to promote commentary on this story from the same partisan group that just days ago enjoyed generous BBC amplification (including a link) of its public call to Israeli soldiers to refuse orders

Advertisements

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)

 

BBC News continues to blame Palestinian violence on US

On January 11th an article titled “Two Palestinian teens killed in clashes with Israeli troops” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. 

“Two Palestinian youths have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry says.”

Whether that refers to the PA health ministry or the Hamas-controlled health ministry in the Gaza Strip is unclear. The article continued:

“Amir Abu Musaid, 16, was shot near Gaza’s border fence, reportedly during a protest at the recent US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The Israeli military said it fired at rioters who “put our forces in danger”.

Another 16-year-old, Omar Qadous, was shot between the villages of Iraq Burin and Til, in the northern West Bank.

The Israeli military said troops had come under attack from a “massive barrage of rocks” and that they had fired at the main instigator.”

However, the article then went on to promote the following claim:

“But Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Daghlas told the Wafa news agency that Israeli soldiers manning a checkpoint there opened fire “without any reason”.”

As was the case when the BBC last quoted Daghlas in one of its reports, the relevant issue of his job description (mentioned in the quoted Wafa report) and his dubious record of unsupported allegations was not clarified to readers. The BBC’s report continued:

“The Maan news agency cited local sources as saying that shots were fired by a sniper during a protest against restrictions put in place in the area as Israeli troops searched for the gunmen who killed an Israeli settler on Tuesday night.”

In fact the Ma’an report refers to those efforts to disturb the security forces’ search for terrorists at large as “clashes” rather than “a protest” as claimed by the BBC.

The link in that paragraph leads to a January 10th BBC report on a terror attack that was published some seventeen hours after the incident took place. BBC Watch has since learned that the corporation was provided with information and photographs authorised for publication immediately following the incident. As was the case in that report, this one too erased Fatah’s praise for the attack from audience view.

“Raziel Shevach, a 35-year-old rabbi and father-of-six, was shot several times as he drove along a highway near the settlement outpost of Havat Gilad.

No group has said it was behind the attack, but the Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the attackers.”

The report then went on to promote equivalence between the murder of an Israeli civilian in a terror attack and the deaths of Palestinians engaged in violent rioting and terrorism.

“At least 16 Palestinians and one Israeli have now been killed since 6 December, when President Donald Trump reversed decades of US policy by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and starting preparations to move the US embassy.

Fourteen of the Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops, while two have died as a result of Israeli air strikes in response to rocket fire from Gaza.”

The BBC refrained (once again) from informing readers that the two people who “died as a result of Israeli air strikes” were members of Hamas.

“In one of the IAF strikes late Friday on a Hamas base in Nusseirat, located in the central Gaza Strip, two Palestinians were killed. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza named the men as Mahmud al-Atal, 28 and Mohammed al-Safdi, 30. […]

The terror group later confirmed the dead men were members of its military wing.”

As we see the BBC continues to frame the recent rise in Palestinian violence as having been caused exclusively by the US Administration’s announcement recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – rather than by the choices made by those throwing rocks and firebombs, launching missiles, stabbing a security guard at a bus station or shooting a volunteer first-aider on his way home.

At the same time, the corporation continues to refrain from producing any serious reporting on the long-standing efforts made by terror organisations to increase attacks (particularly in Judea & Samaria) and the incitement appearing in official PA media and on the social media of Palestinian factions.  

Related Articles:

BBC News airbrushes Fatah praise from report on terror attack

The BBC, violence and promotion of linkage – part one

The BBC, violence and promotion of linkage – part two

 

 

 

BBC News omits a relevant part of the Tamimi charges story

On January 1st the BBC News website published a report titled “Palestinian girl charged after slapping soldier on video“.

Parts of that report are recycled from a BBC News website article concerning the arrest of Ahed Tamimi that was published on December 19th 2017. Four links that appeared in that previous report – a Facebook post by her father, an article from the notoriously partisan and inaccurate Al Jazeera quoting her aunt, one Ynet report quoting her father and a second Ynet report relating to a previous incident in which she was involved – are promoted once again.

While – in contrast to the previous report – this one does clarify that Ahed Tamimi’s mother Nariman filmed and disseminated the footage of her daughter assaulting an Israeli soldier, the full extent of the Tamimi family’s activities – including the organisation of weekly rioting – is once again not revealed to BBC audiences.

Regarding the actual indictment against Ahed Tamimi, the article states:

“Israeli authorities have charged a Palestinian teenager with assault after a video of her hitting and pushing Israeli soldiers went viral. […]

She faces 12 charges including aggravated assault and throwing stones.

But the family say they were involved in legitimate resistance during protests in the occupied West Bank.”

Readers are not informed that – as reported by the Times of Israel – she has also been charged with incitement.

“Among the charges against Ahed were aggravated assault of a soldier, threatening a soldier, preventing soldiers from carrying out their duties, incitement, disturbing the public peace and stone throwing.

Regarding the incitement charge, the MAG [Military Attorney General] cited a statement given by Ahed to her mother, who was filming the December 15 incident on Facebook Live. Immediately following the squabble, Nariman asked her daughter what kind of message she wanted to convey to viewers.

“I hope that everyone will take part in the demonstrations as this is the only means to achieve the result,” she said. “Our strength is in our stones, and I hope that the world will unite to liberate Palestine, because [Donald] Trump made his declaration and [the Americans] need to take responsibility for any response that comes from us,” Ahed added, apparently referring to the US president’s decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Whether it is stabbings or suicide bombings or throwing stones, everyone must do his part and we must unite in order for our message to be heard that we want to liberate Palestine,” she concluded.

The MAG said the Facebook Live stream earned “thousands of views” and “dozens of likes.”” [emphasis added]

Notably, while the BBC did elect to amplify the Tamimi family’s claim of “legitimate resistance” and to inform its audiences that “many Palestinians have hailed Tamimi as a hero of the resistance to Israeli occupation”, it refrained from telling them of her support for terrorism and advocacy of the murder of Israelis.    

Related Articles:

BBC News website promotes the Tamimi clan again

 

BBC Monitoring steers clear of key parts of the Jerusalem story

On December 7th the BBC News website published an article by BBC Monitoring under the less than objective title “Middle East media reacts to ‘slap of the century’” which opened by telling readers that:

“Headlines in Arab and Turkish newspapers are crowded with strident criticism and expressions of dismay in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Those in the Israeli press welcome the move, saying it should never have taken decades to happen.”

Since then, however, audiences have seen no further coverage of the Middle East media from the licence fee funded BBC department that pledges to help them “understand the world through its media”.

BBC audiences are therefore not aware of the fact that the last couple of weeks have seen a rise in the appearance of antisemitic cartoons in some Middle East media outlets – as the ADL reports.

“These cartoons describe President Trump as a circus elephant balancing the globe on its trunk to the command of its Israeli trainer; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulling the arm of a blindfolded US in order to raise a Star-of-David-shaped wand; and President Trump driving off a cliff in a car marked with a Star of David. They also depict the Israeli flag on top of an Uncle-Sam-style top hat; Uncle Sam throwing away his original hat only to reveal he is in fact wearing a Jewish skullcap; as well as the US saying that “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel” while the Jewish figure is giving it a thumbs-up, as though it was said on Israel’s cue.

These cartoons resonate with an age-old anti-Semitic theme of malevolent Jewish power found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fabricated document purporting to show Jews scheming to achieve world domination.”

Although BBC Monitoring states that it provides “analysis of media and social media behaviour based on expert understanding of the local media and cultural context”, BBC audiences have heard nothing of a music video promoting suicide bombings and an antisemitic poem that have been broadcast on official Palestinian Authority TV. Neither have they been told of calls to the public from PA politicians in official PA media outlets to “stand against any attempt” to “Judaize” Jerusalem or of the repeated calls from Fatah (the dominant political party in the PA and PLO) for violence and rioting on its social media platforms. BBC Monitoring staff have apparently also not noticed the incitement against the US president on Fatah social media accounts.

As we saw earlier this week, BBC correspondents in the region are not making an effort to apprise audiences of the backdrop to the rioting on the streets that they are reporting. The fact that the BBC  is the only world media organisation to have such a large publicly funded department dedicated to translation and analysis of foreign language media means that it is ideally – and indeed uniquely – placed to fill that vacuum. BBC Monitoring is not, however, providing the corporation’s audiences with information which would help them put the story of the regional reaction to the US announcement on Jerusalem into perspective. 

BBC’s Knell skirts the issue of PA and Fatah incitement to violence

An edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘OS’ (formerly ‘Outside Source’) that was broadcast on December 15th led with an item (from 00:68 here) described by presenter Ben James as being about “the latest protests and clashes over Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital”.

During his subsequent conversation with the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell, James asked (at 02:53) an interesting question:

James: “And these protests; are they being organised by political parties? Are they spontaneous to an extent? What’s behind them?”

Anyone following the Palestinian media will be aware of numerous examples of incitement to rioting and violence that have appeared in both traditional and new media over the past couple of weeks. For example, PMW reports that:

“In anticipation of Trump’s statement, the Secretary of Fatah in Jerusalem Shadi Mattour explained that Fatah had already made plans for “escalating struggle activities” if US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, stating that there’s “nothing left but to return to confrontation”: 

Secretary of Fatah in Jerusalem Shadi Mattour: “The Fatah Movement has always led the defenders of our Palestinian people and will not hesitate when it sees the danger surrounding our Palestinian capital Jerusalem. Yesterday we were called to a meeting of branch secretaries in the presence of [Fatah] Commissioner Jamal Muhaisen, and prepared plans for escalating struggle activities on the ground if the US makes such a decision that will blow up the peace process… When the patron of peace [the US] comes and kills the peace process and kills our dream to establish our Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem, we in Fatah have nothing left but to return to confrontation with this occupation.” [Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, Dec. 5, 2017]”

A PA official conveyed a similar message – also on official PA TV:

“In his Friday sermon at the PA headquarters, Abbas’ advisor on religious affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash incited Palestinians to religious war. Condemning US President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as “a crime against humanity” and “a sin,” Al-Habbash encouraged Muslims and Christians worldwide to “act.” He asked rhetorically: “How do the Muslims of the world allow this sin?” And answered later in the speech that “the Muslims will act.” “

On social media the PA president’s Fatah party has put out repeated calls for an intifada and “popular rage”.

‘”The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades at the Al-Fawwar refugee camp south of Hebron: ‘It is necessary to continue the intifada and escalate it, and to see days of popular rage in the coming days.'” [Facebook page of the Fatah Movement – Bethlehem Branch, Dec. 8, 2017]’

Obviously then, one would have expected Yolande Knell to inform BBC World Service audiences of such incitement from official PA sources as well as the dominant political party in both the Palestinian Authority and the PLO in her response to James’ question.

This, however, was her answer:

Knell: “I mean in most areas you have…err…young protesters who will, when there is…err…something like…err…an issue around Jerusalem, they will turn out to protest. Ahm…the Islamist group Hamas has called for an intifada – a Palestinian uprising – but I have to say so far that this has not been anything like on that level…”

This is by no means the first time that we have seen Yolande Knell – and other BBC journalists – downplaying, erasing, distorting and ignoring the issue of incitement to violence from official PA and Fatah sources. 

How that practice can be said to contribute to meeting the BBC’s public purpose of providing “impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them” is of course a mystery. 

 

Are BBC News reports on Palestinian deaths accurate and impartial?

As noted here earlier in the month, the BBC refrained from reporting on many, if not most, of the terror attacks against Israelis which took place during December. But on occasions when the corporation did cover violent incidents resulting in the deaths of Palestinians, misleading, inaccurate or incomplete reporting was evident.

Here, for example, is how the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell portrayed events which took place on December 24th in a report for the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’. [emphasis added]

“This was in different parts of the occupied West Bank; three Palestinians shot dead, apparently while carrying out attacks. One stabbed two security guards at the entrance to an Israeli settlement. Another is said to have tried to attack soldiers close to Hebron with a screw driver. Another tried to run a car into a military post close to Jerusalem according to the Israeli military. There was a fourth Palestinian man killed in clashes with Israeli troops….”

Notably, Knell qualifies (unnecessarily) her accounts of the first three incidents, but not the last one. Here is a report from the Jerusalem Post relating to that fourth incident in which, according to Knell, a Palestinian man was simply “killed in clashes”.

“Separately, during a Palestinian riot that broke out in the Kalandiya refugee camp, the IDF killed a Palestinian gunman, Bilal Omar Zayed, 23. The soldiers had entered the camp to arrest two Palestinians for their suspected involvement in a shooting attack against Israelis.

The Palestinian gunman fired at the soldiers while they were in the camp, an army spokeswoman said. Soldiers returned fire, and it is believed that Zayed was killed at this point. After the exchange of fire, a large-scale disturbance ensued in which local residents threw rocks and fire bombs, wounding two soldiers.”

Did BBC audiences receive an accurate impression of the circumstances of that incident from Knell’s portrayal? Obviously not. Clearly too, in her account of the first three incidents, Knell’s focus is on the attackers rather than the victims.

The “Israeli settlement” she mentions is Ariel – a town with a population of over 18,000 people.

“Thursday’s violence began in the morning, when Muhammad Abdel Hamid Zahran, 23, from Kufr al-Dik, stabbed two security guards at the entrance to the settlement of Ariel, next to the city’s industrial park.

Both of the 24-year-old guards suffered stab wounds to their upper bodies that left one in serious condition and one in moderate condition.”

Contrary to the impression given by Knell, the attacker in the third incident did not try to strike an inanimate object as suggested by the wording “run a car into a military post”.

“Two hours later, around noon, Wissam Abu Ghawileh, 22, from Kalandiya, tried to mow down Border Police and soldiers with a car, just outside the Rama army base, located by the Adam junction in Samaria.

The Border Police released a statement made by “A.,” the commander of the Border Police officers who shot and killed the attacker, who explained that the attack occurred as the security forces were leaving the base on a routine mission.

“We saw a vehicle veer toward us on the path leading to the base, which is used only by people approaching the base, which left us with no doubt that this was a vehicular attack. The fighters actually leapt in the direction of a nearby shelter while we shot at the terrorist until he was neutralized,” A. said.

One officer lightly wounded in the incident was treated at the scene with an injury to one of his hands.”

Another example – from December 26th – is seen in a BBC Radio 4 news bulletin relating to incidents which took place on December 25th.Midnight news

“Israeli police say a Palestinian woman was shot dead when she tried to run her car into a patrol in the West Bank. At a border crossing with Gaza, another Palestinian was killed during a protest.”

By the time that news bulletin was broadcast, even the spokesman for the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry had already clarified that the man was engaged in violent rioting at the time of his death.

“A Palestinian was killed on Friday east of Gaza City in clashes with Israeli troops, a spokesman for the Palestinian health ministry said.

Hani Whadab [Wahdan], 22, was killed as he was throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers near the Nahal Oz crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP.”

The BBC’s classification of the circumstances as a “protest” therefore clearly fails to provide audiences with the full picture.

In both these examples we see that BBC reporting erases from audience view the fact that the deaths of Palestinians came about because they were carrying out violent acts. Not only is such reporting obviously inaccurate and misleading in that it fails to inform audiences of the full circumstances of the incidents but the failure to include key information also raises concerns about the impartiality of such reporting. 

 

BBC’s Knell raises an opportunistic stink

On September 12th the ‘Magazine’ section of the BBC News website published an article by Yolande Knell titled “Who, What, Why: What is skunk water?“.Knell Skunk

The hook for Knell’s article is evident in the article’s opening paragraph.

“Police departments in the United States are reported to have bought a foul-smelling liquid developed in Israel to repel protesters. What is “skunk” and how is it used, asks Yolande Knell.”

However, only those 31 words and a further 39 towards the end of the article relate to the reported purchase of the riot control method by US police departments. The report’s remaining 627 words are employed by Knell for more of her signature political campaigning.

One of the article’s notable features is the language used by Knell to describe the circumstances in which the Israeli security forces use Skunk spray.

Having already informed audiences in the opening paragraph that the substance is used “to repel protesters“, the article also states: [all emphasis added]

“Invented by Israeli firm Odortec, skunk water was first used by the Israeli military against demonstrators in the occupied West Bank in 2008.” 

And:

“In the West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum, skunk has been used to break up weekly rallies against Israel’s closure of a nearby road.”

“Protesters, demonstrators, rallies”:  none of Knell’s chosen terminology contributes to audience understanding of the fact that Skunk and other methods of crowd control are in fact used against violent rioters. The only hint concerning that comes in a quote from the IDF but Knell herself refrains from clarifying the issue to readers, leaving them with the mistaken impression that Skunk is used against people marching quietly with placards.

“A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told the BBC that skunk is “an effective, non-lethal, riot dispersal means” that can reduce the risk of casualties.” 

Knell promotes statements from two political NGOs but – in breach of BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality – refrains from providing audiences with any information on the obviously relevant topic of their political agenda. The foreign funded NGO ACRI is quoted as follows:

“Israeli security forces have been accused of misusing the stinking liquid.

Last year police sprayed large quantities of it in East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, at a time of widespread unrest.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel complained that this was “disproportionate“, affecting the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians.

It documented cases where homes, shops and schools were hit with the foul liquid long after rioters had left the area.” [emphasis added]

The local NGO most quoted and promoted by the BBC in its Israel-related content in 2014, B’Tselem, provides the video embedded in the article – and apparently the source of an unverified allegation – as well as a quote.

“In the West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum, skunk has been used to break up weekly rallies against Israel’s closure of a nearby road. The protest organiser claims his home has also been singled out.

“Several times they purposefully targeted my house,” says Murad Ishtewe. “Once the high pressure of the jet broke the window so the water came inside. All my furniture was ruined.”

The IDF said it was not aware of such an incident.

“For us it’s a complex picture,” says Sarit Michaeli of the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem.

“The authorities ought to find non-lethal ways of maintaining law and order. The problem is the way Skunk is used. Very often it is a form of collective punishment for a whole area.”” [emphasis added]

The inclusion of the terms “disproportionate” and “collective punishment” – both of which have legal connotations not relevant to this story – is of course particularly notable given the BBC’s similar misuse of legal terminology during Operation Protective Edge, often whilst amplifying the agendas of political NGOs engaged in lawfare.

Knell also throws in inferences of racism:

“Many Palestinians view the offensive smell as a humiliation, as skunk is used almost exclusively against them. Exceptions are rare. One came in April this year, when it was sprayed (possibly diluted) at Ethiopian-Israelis protesting against what they saw as racially motivated police violence.”

She neglects to inform readers that the use of Skunk in Jerusalem on April 30th came about after the protest turned violent and does not disclose her source for the claim that in that case the solution was “possibly diluted”.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find any Israel-related report by Yolande Knell which does not promote her embarrassingly transparent political agenda. Not infrequently her work (and that of other BBC journalists too) relies on contributions from a selected group of political NGOs, without any effort being made to duly inform BBC audiences of the agenda which lies behind their claims and statements. Yolande Knell clearly has no qualms about acting as a medium for foreign funded Israeli NGOs but that of course is not the same as accurate and impartial reporting of the news – which is, after all, what licence fee payers are entitled to receive.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Yolande Knell ditches any semblance of impartiality

BBC News compromises impartiality with link to website of political NGO

BBC News amplifies political NGO in inaccurately headlined report

BBC’s Knell flouts impartiality guidelines with failure to inform on Susiya interviewee’s day job

 

BBC News compromises impartiality with link to website of political NGO

On April 10th the BBC News website published a report titled “Palestinian killed during funeral clash in West Bank” which is notable on two counts relating to context and impartiality. Readers are told that:Beit Ummar incident

“A Palestinian man has been shot dead in clashes with Israeli troops at the funeral of a militant in the southern West Bank, hospital officials say. […]

An Israeli military spokesperson said soldiers had opened fire after funeral-goers threw rocks and petrol bombs.

The clashes took place in the town of Beit Ummar, near Hebron.”

That information is broadly consistent with reports appearing in other media outlets, but some important items of context are omitted.

Beit Ummar is located along Highway 60 – the region’s major roadway – in Area B (where responsibility for security lies with Israel according to the Oslo Accords) and, as reported by Ynet:

“…during the funeral, in which some 700 Palestinians took part, violent riots developed at several locations during which rioters threw rocks and petrol bombs and rolled burning tires at soldiers stationed between the village and route 60.” [emphasis added]

AP adds:

“After the funeral, Palestinians threw rocks at soldiers manning a watchtower on a road near the town, according to witnesses.

Israel’s military said Palestinians threw rocks and firebombs, and rolled burning tires toward soldiers. It said troops used tear gas at first, but fired low-caliber bullets at the legs of four men after the soldiers felt their lives were in danger.” [emphasis added]

In other words, the incident during which the man was shot did not take place at the funeral itself, but as a result of violence initiated by Palestinian rioters after the funeral which was directed at soldiers deployed to ensure safe passage for motorists on a major highway. Those points are not made clear in the BBC’s report.

Neither is any attempt made to clarify the background to the rioting following the funeral of a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad apparently suffering from a terminal illness who had died earlier that morning in a Palestinian hospital in Hebron. The BBC’s article states:

“The funeral was for a Palestinian militant who had been recently imprisoned by Israel. He was reportedly released early because of ill health.”

Indeed, as reported by Channel 2, the Israeli Prison Service confirmed that Jaafar Awad had been released from prison three months ago because of his illness. However, the BBC refrained from reporting that various Palestinian sources had made unproven and inflammatory public statements concerning his death. Channel 2 notes that:

“According to claims from official Palestinian sources, the [PIJ] activist died of health problems which were caused whilst he was in an Israeli prison.”

Channel 10 reports:

“In the morning hours Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad published announcements blaming Israel for the responsibility for Awad’s death. Hamas spokesman Husam Bardan [located in Qatar – Ed.] blamed Israel and claimed that it intentionally neglects the health of Palestinian prisoners. He described that as “slow killing policy” and called for international bodies to deal with the issue.”

The Times of Israel reports:

“The head of a Palestinian Authority body in charge of prisoner affairs, Issa Qaraqe, issued a statement alleging Jaafar Awad had died of “medical negligence” at the hands of Israeli prison authorities.

“Israel alone is responsible for his death,” Qaraqe said in the statement, and called for an international probe.

Jaafar’s father, Ibrahim Awad, told AFP before his son’s death that Israeli prison authorities had given the 23-year-old man “an injection that made him ill and totally weakened him.””

The BBC, however, elected to refrain from informing its audience about the incitement which preceded the violent rioting which took place following Awad’s funeral.

As regular visitors to the BBC News website will be aware, links to non-BBC sites are usually accompanied by a disclaimer noting that “the BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites”. In this report a link was provided to the B’Tselem website.

“According to an Israeli military spokesperson, soldiers had feared for their lives as protesters at the funeral threw rocks and petrol bombs and rolled burning car tyres at them.

The spokesperson said the soldiers responded with non-lethal “riot dispersal means” and then with 0.22-calibre “Ruger” bullets.”

The BBC states that its reasons for linking to external websites are as follows:

BBC linking external websites

The subsection titled “Online links to third party websites” in the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines on “Editorial Integrity & Independence” states:

“Part of the BBC’s role is to act as a trusted guide on the web. When we create content on a BBC site we should consider which external websites it may be editorially justifiable to link to. We offer external links from the BBC public service site and from the editorial pages of the commercial site, for example, to provide additional information, source material or informed comment. We should be seen to be impartial. BBC websites which cover controversial subjects or public policy matters should normally offer links to external sites which represent a reasonable range of views about the subject. […]

We may link to external sites which give particular views of a person or organisation significant to a current news story and in such cases we may not be able to guarantee their factual accuracy. But we should not support the message, information or promotions on third party sites.” [emphasis added]

B’Tselem is a foreign-funded political NGO which is frequently quoted and promoted by the BBC without adequate information being provided to audiences on the topic of its particular agenda. Despite the provision of a link to the B’Tselem website in this article, no attempt is made to ensure that audiences are aware of the context of the political motivations of the organization behind the information promoted by the BBC and no additional “range of views” is offered.

Whilst it is obvious that the BBC “is not responsible for the content of external websites”, it clearly is responsible for the implied endorsement of information appearing on websites to which it chooses to link and the subsequent compromise of its own impartiality when that information is provided by an organization with a political agenda known to – but not disclosed by – the BBC. 

Related Articles:

BBC’s Jon Donnison misrepresents PFLP ‘fighter commander’ as charity worker

Meet the Abu Marias: ‘Mr & Mrs’ ISM-style

 

 

 

BBC reports from Hebron funeral again promote PA propaganda

The BBC’s coverage of the funeral of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh – the 64 year-old Palestinian terrorist who died last week of esophageal cancer – includes a written report placed on the Middle East page of the BBC News website and a filmed report by Jon Donnison which appeared on BBC television news, both dated April 4th. 

Hamdiyeh funeral 1

Hamdiyeh funeral 2

Both reports continue the practices of previous recent related BBC articles in that they promote unverified Palestinian Authority propaganda regarding Abu Hamdiyeh’s death and downplay the rioting incited and fuelled by that propaganda.

The written report states:

“The clashes began after thousands took to the streets to mourn the death of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, who died of cancer in an Israeli jail.

Palestinian officials have accused Israel of medical negligence – Israel says care was provided.

Abu Hamdiyeh was serving a life sentence for a failed bombing attack on a Jerusalem cafe in 2002. Palestinians say he should have been released on compassionate grounds and the death has sparked protests across the West Bank.”

Later on it also states:

“Palestinian officials claim Israel did not provide the 64-year-old with adequate medical care and failed to release him after diagnosing that his illness was terminal.”

The synopsis to the filmed report states:

“His death has sparked angry protests, with Palestinian officials accusing Israel of medical negligence.”

This repetition of PA propaganda does not represent ‘impartiality’ but rather the spreading of baseless hearsay and rumour which – as pointed out here previously – has long been employed by the PA in order to whip up fervour on the streets in order to serve its own political motives. The fact that the BBC – in this case and others – voluntarily aids and abets the spread of that conspiracy theory based propaganda, whilst lending it the coveted BBC stamp of legitimacy, raises some very serious concerns regarding the nature of the working relationship between the BBC’s Jerusalem Bureau and the Palestinian Authority and calls the BBC’s impartiality into question. 

The written report opens:  [emphasis added]

Palestinian rioters in Hebron, April 4, 2013.

Palestinian rioters in Hebron, April 4, 2013. Photo: Tovah Lazaroff

“Palestinian protesters have clashed with Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Hebron following the funeral of a prisoner who died in an Israeli jail.

Soldiers used tear gas and rubber bullets – protesters threw stones.”

The construction of that last sentence shows a clear attempt to dictate the impressions received by the reader through the deliberate inversion of cause and effect.

The report also states: [emphasis added]

“The clashes began after thousands took to the streets to mourn the death of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, who died of cancer in an Israeli jail.”

And:

“Thursday also saw the funerals of two Palestinian teenagers killed by Israeli forces on Wednesday during clashes between soldiers and youths.”

In the article’s side box titled ‘At the Scene’, Yolande Knell writes:

“Many shops and businesses have been shut in a general strike and there have been violent clashes with Israeli soldiers.”

The synopsis of the filmed report states:

“Two Palestinian teenagers were killed by Israeli forces on Wednesday during clashes between soldiers and youths.”

The repeated use of the word ‘clashes’ in this article and others deliberately creates an impression in the reader’s mind of a violent conflict between two opponents. What it does not do is reflect the fact that all of the violent riots (whatever their pretext) and the hundreds of attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers of the past few months – the majority of which have gone completely unreported by the BBC – are not inevitable. Contrary to the manner in which the issue is approached by the BBC, Palestinians are not obliged to throw stones and firebombs at Israeli vehicles or to riot after funerals and the Palestinian Authority has the ability to contain those riots should it wish to do so. 

The fact that instead of presenting audiences with an accurate and realistic picture of the scale of violence and its causes, the BBC adopts and promotes the PA narrative by inevitably rebranding riots as ‘protests’ or ‘demonstrations’ is displayed in this report by the decision to include the following:

“He [Mahmoud Abbas] also criticised Israel for continuing to use force to suppress what he described at peaceful protests.”

Donnison’s filmed report also includes an example of the advancement of a narrative by means of the failure to include relevant information.

Members of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Hebron

At around 1:05 Donnison says:

“..there is nowhere else in the West Bank which is quite as tense as Hebron. It’s a city with around 160,000 Palestinian people and right in the middle there is an Israeli settlement which has a large number of soldiers in order to protect it.”

Of course Donnison fails to inform his audience that Israelis living in Hebron do so according to the terms of Article VII of Annex I of the Oslo Accords – i.e. with the consent of the Palestinian Authority and the approval of the agreement’s international midwives – and that according to the 1997 agreement signed by the PA, Israel is responsible for their security. Given the BBC’s repeated promotion of the notion that Israeli ‘settlements’ are ‘illegal’ that omission is a particularly glaring example of disingenuous inaccuracy. 

The BBC’s approach to the subject of the recent rise in violence in general, and the rioting under the pretext of various issues relating to Palestinian prisoners in particular, is increasingly problematic. A serious review of that approach’s role in repeated breaches of editorial standards is urgently needed because clearly the mechanisms put in place in order to guarantee adherence to those standards are not functioning.