BBC’s Israel-Al Jazeera row reporting displays double standards – part one

When Britain’s media regulatory authority OFCOM suspended and later revoked the licence of a local radio station in the UK last month, the BBC News website provided audiences with an accurate and comprehensive explanation of the reasoning behind that decision in two articles titled “Sheffield-based radio station Iman FM suspended over ‘terror talks’” and “Sheffield-based radio station Iman FM loses licence“.

“A community radio station has had its licence revoked for broadcasting more than 25 hours of lectures by an alleged al-Qaeda leader.

Sheffield-based Iman FM’s licence had already been suspended by Ofcom for playing the lectures by radical American Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. […]

“We have strict rules prohibiting harmful content in programmes likely to incite crime,” the Ofcom spokesperson added. […]

It followed “extremely serious breaches of the Broadcasting Code, after it aired material likely to incite or encourage the commission of crime or to lead to disorder”, said Ofcom. […]

In 2011 the United Nations Security Council described Awlaki as a “leader, recruiter and trainer for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula”.

His sermons are thought to have inspired terrorist attacks including the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris in 2015 in which 12 people died and the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, in which 13 US soldiers were killed.”

That standard of clear and informative reporting was not however in evidence on August 6th when the BBC News website published a report now titled “Al Jazeera: Israel seeks to shut offices and take network off air“. [emphasis added]

Version 1

“Israel is seeking to close Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera’s offices in the country and revoke its journalists’ media credentials.

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara alleged that the channel supported terrorism, and said both its Arabic and English-language channels would be taken off air.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accuses the broadcaster of “incitement”. […]

Mr Netanyahu had accused the pan-Arab TV channel of fuelling a recent crisis around a holy site in Jerusalem known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount. […]

The Israeli prime minister vowed in late July to “expel Al Jazeera” for its reporting of the issue, which he said had incited violence. […]

Israel has however frequently accused it [Al Jazeera] of being biased in reporting the Israel-Palestinian conflict.”

The BBC’s report refrained from providing its audiences with any examples of the kind of Al Jazeera material that has prompted such ‘allegations’ and ‘accusations’ past and present.

Readers were not informed, for example, that two days after the terror attack that sparked the recent violence in Jerusalem and elsewhere, Al Jazeera aired an interview with the deputy head of the banned northern Islamic Movement in which – as documented by MEMRI – he was given an unchallenged platform to promote pernicious incitement.

“Kamal Khatib: 22 years ago, we said that the Al-Aqsa Mosque was in danger. At the time, we said that throughout the excavations, the occupation used chemical substances that have a long-term effect. These substances could eat away at the rocks and pillars, but its effect would not show immediately, and afterwards they would be able to claim that the cracks in Al-Aqsa [walls]… It has happened. There are fissures and sinkholes in some places. [Their plan was that] they would be able to claim that it was the working of nature. It seems… Actually, I shouldn’t say “seems”…

Interviewer: Sorry to interrupt you, Sheikh, but did [Israel] do it now, when the mosque was closed? Did it execute this secret scheme?

Kamal Khatib: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I fear – I am almost convinced – that the goal of Israel in closing the mosque was not just to search for weapons, as the [Israelis] claimed. They know that there are no weapons inside the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Neither were readers told, for example, that in 2008 Al Jazeera threw a birthday party for the convicted terrorist Samir Kuntar (for which it later apologised) or that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Yusuf al Qaradawi has a regular Al Jazeera slot from which he has been inciting against Jews – and others – for years.

While failing to provide readers with any such examples, the BBC’s article does however report various Al Jazeera statements on the story, even amplifying the unquestioned claim that the network is “independent” despite the fact that it does not report on the autocratic regime that is the source of its funding.

“Al Jazeera has condemned the decision. […]

An Al Jazeera official in the Qatari capital Doha told AFP that the channel “deplores this action from a state that is called the only democratic state in the Middle East, and considers what it has done is dangerous”. […]

The Al Jazeera official defended its coverage, saying it was “professional and objective”.

The network’s editor in Jerusalem has accused Mr Netanyahu of collusion with his autocratic Arab neighbours in an attack on free and independent media.”

Obviously in order to understand this story properly, BBC audiences needed to be provided with information concerning the kind of material broadcast by Al Jazeera that has sparked the objections – just as they were in the case of the Sheffield radio station. The BBC News website failed to provide that essential background information but did other BBC platforms do any better? That question will be answered in part two of this post.

Related Articles:

Al Jazeera English (CAMERA)

Al-Jazeera America (CAMERA)

Looking back at the sourcing behind BBC reports on Qatar – part two

 

 

The BBC, complaints, corrections and accountability

Readers may recall that a BBC Radio 4 News bulletin from December 20th 2015 misled listeners with regard to the fact that Samir Kuntar’s role in the 1979 terror attack in Nahariya was proven in a court of law.R4 6pm news 20 12

“A leading figure in the Lebanese militant group Hizballah has been killed by a rocket attack in the Syrian capital Damascus. Samir Kuntar had previously spent thirty years in an Israeli prison for his alleged role in the killing of four people. Hizballah said Israel was behind the rocket attack. An Israeli minister welcomed his death but didn’t say whether his country had carried it out.” [emphasis added]

A member of the public who immediately alerted the BBC to the use of that inaccurate and misleading wording received (over two weeks later) one of BBC Complaints’ infamous template responses – which completely failed to address the issue raised.

“Thank you for contacting us about the recent escalation in violence in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. We have received a wide range of feedback about our coverage of this subject across our television and radio programmes, and the BBC News website. In order to use our TV licence fee resources efficiently, this response aims to answer the key concerns raised in complaints received by us, but we apologise in advance if it doesn’t address your specific points in the manner you would prefer.

We appreciate you believe our coverage of this story has shown bias in favour of the Palestinians and against Israelis and the state of Israel. In this response we hope to explain why we feel this has not been the case.

Across our news bulletins and programmes we have reported on the increasing number of attacks committed by Palestinians on Israeli civilians and security forces. We have broadcast reports where our reporters have spoken to the families of Israelis and Palestinians killed in the recent violence and have heard their respective stories and own specific takes on the conflict.

For example, during BBC One’s News at Ten on 9 October we heard from Odel Bennet. She and her husband were attacked by a Palestinian in the Old City the previous weekend. She was seriously injured; her husband and a rabbi who intervened were both killed. During the report we showed amateur video footage of the attack. We then heard from Mrs Bennet who, from her hospital bed, spoke of her fear and pain, and described how Palestinian passers-by mocked and verbally abused her while she lay wounded on the street.

We have tried to explain how the current situation has come to pass from the Israeli and Palestinian perspectives. This has included reporting on the tensions around the holy sites in Jerusalem. We have also reported on criticisms of the Palestinian leadership’s response to the attacks, in particular the Israeli government’s claim that President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are guilty of inciting violence in the West Bank. We believe we have reported clearly on the threat of violence faced by Israelis on an increasingly regular basis and of the difficulties faced by security forces in stopping these attacks from taking place.

BBC News tries to report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an accurate and duly impartial manner. Sometimes this means we can’t always reflect the full extent of the complexities of the conflict during one standalone report or bulletin. We try to tell the story of the conflict as experienced by both sides, across programmes and bulletins and over time. We believe this has been the case during our coverage of this recent spike in violence.

We have raised your concerns with senior editorial staff at BBC News, who consider the range of feedback received from our audience when deciding how they approach reporting on stories.”

The receipt of such an irrelevant response naturally raises the question of whether staff at the BBC Complaints department even bothered to read the complaint to which they were ostensibly replying.

Such template responses have of course long been employed by the BBC Complaints department and their primary purpose is obviously to tick a box and reduce the department’s workload. This particular member of the BBC’s funding public did not however give up in the face of an extraneous response and the complaint was resubmitted at the next stage.

The subsequent reply – received over five weeks after the original broadcast – read as follows:

“Thanks for getting back in touch. Apologies for the delay in replying. We do very much regret that we’ve not been able to get back to you as quickly as we, and you, would have liked.

Apologies also for our previous response not addressing your concerns.

We raised your complaint with senior editorial staff at radio newsroom. They appreciate your point and accept the script should have been written more clearly. It would have been better, for example, if this bulletin mirrored Radio 4’s 0900 bulletin’s on the same date (20 December), to remove any possible ambiguity about the nature of the conviction against Samir Qantar:

“The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah say a leader of the group has been killed by an Israeli airstrike in the Syrian capital, Damascus. Samir Qantar was sentenced to life in prison in Israel in 1979 for an attack in Israel that killed four people but was released seven years ago as part of a prisoner swap. An Israeli minister welcomed his death but did not comment on who was responsible.”

Thanks for taking the time to contact us, we hope this goes some way in addressing your concerns.”

So, whilst BBC staff “accept the script should have been written more clearly” they apparently have no intention of actually doing anything to correct the misleading and inaccurate impression given to Radio 4’s listeners. 

Once again, this case raises questions concerning the BBC’s accountability and its commitment to correcting its own mistakes in a consistent manner which serves the public interest. All the BBC had to do was to read this complaint properly and broadcast a correction in the next edition of that news programme. Instead, it wasted publicly provided resources by unnecessarily dragging out a very simple issue over a period of nearly a month and a half.

It is interesting to compare the BBC’s decidedly complacent approach to complaints and corrections to that of the US broadcaster NPR – as recently laid out in a CNN interview with NPR’s Head of News, Michael Oreskes.

“We don’t make silent corrections to our stories. We make corrections to help keep the public accurately informed – not to absolve ourselves of our mistakes.” 

 “So when you make an error of fact you have to correct it right away and you have to say you’ve corrected it.”

Keeping the public accurately informed is supposedly the mission of the BBC too but when members of the public alerting the corporation to inaccuracies and errors are shrugged off with tardy, irrelevant replies and forced to spend weeks navigating the labyrinthine complaints system in order to squeeze out a response which does nothing to repair the damage done by the error, it is very difficult to believe that mission is really at the peak of the BBC’s priorities.

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BBC defends its use of template replies to complaints

BBC News amplifies Hizballah propaganda in report on Har Dov attack

On January 4th the BBC News website’s Middle East page published a report titled “Hezbollah bomb attack targets Israeli border patrol“. Predictably, the BBC’s descriptions of both thatHar Dov art main designated terror organization and the convicted terrorist Samir Kuntar are less than satisfactory.

“The militant Hezbollah movement said it had detonated a large explosive device beside armoured vehicles patrolling the disputed Shebaa Farms area. […]

Tensions between Israel and Hezbollah were heightened by the killing of a prominent militant in Syria last month.” [emphasis added]

The report includes an oddly worded passage which appears to claim that an IDF source told the BBC that soldiers were injured in the attack.

Har Dov art injuries

All local media outlets reported that there were no injuries to Israeli forces in the attack – see for example here, here and here.

The IDF Spokesman also clarified that point on Twitter.

Peter Lerner Har Dov incident

BBC Watch contacted the IDF Spokesman’s office which confirmed that there were no injuries to IDF personnel and described the BBC’s claim as “very strange”.

Later on in the report, readers find uncritical amplification of a statement put out by Hizballah shortly after the attack.

“Hezbollah subsequently declared that a cell named after Qantar was behind the bombing.

“The martyr leader Samir Qantar group detonated a large explosive device on an Israeli patrol in the Shebaa Farms… which destroyed an Israeli vehicle… and injured those inside it,” a statement said.”

Readers are not informed that Hizballah’s propaganda claim that soldiers were wounded is untrue and the appearance of that previous inaccurate statement regarding injuries is of course bound to compound the inaccurate impression received by readers of this report.

BBC radio stations mangle Samir Kuntar story – part two

h/t DK

The December 20th edition BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ – presented by Rebecca Kesby – included an interview with Smadar Haran Kaiser (from 04:11 here) which was promoted as follows at the start of the show.

“Coming up on the programme today we’ll have reactions to the death of the Hizballah leader from a woman whose entire family was killed in a raid he took part in. It’s a compelling story from a woman with every reason to hate but who refuses to do so.”Newshour 20 12 Kesby

The synopsis appearing on that programme’s webpage promotes the item as follows:

“Israeli widow remembers Hezbollah attack”

Kuntar and his three associates did not of course carry out the terror attack in Nahariya in 1979 on behalf of “Hezbollah” (which – according to the BBC’s own profile of the organization – did not even exist at that time) but as Palestine Liberation Front operatives.

In her introduction to the item, Kesby upgraded Kuntar’s status within Hizballah ranks and predictably failed to inform listeners that it is an internationally designated terrorist organization.

“Now, one of the most senior leaders of the Shiia militant group Hizballah has been killed in Damascus. Samir Kuntar died when missiles hit a residential building in the Syrian capital. The Lebanese-based group blames Israel for the attack. They haven’t confirmed or denied it, although an Israeli minister did welcome the news of his death earlier today. Several rockets were later fired into northern Israel – perhaps in retaliation for the assassination – and we understand mortars were then fired from Israel into Lebanon.”

The subsequent part of the introduction indicates that Kesby had no idea who she was interviewing and her ignorance concerning the circumstances of the Nahariya attack obviously misleads listeners.  

“Well Samir Kuntar had previously been jailed by the Israelis for a notorious attack on a police officer and his family back in 1979. We’ll be hearing from that policeman’s widow in just a moment…”

Smadar Haran Kaiser is of course the widow of Danny Haran who was murdered by Kuntar and his group together with their four year-old daughter Einat. The murdered policeman was Eliyahu Shahar.

Kesby continued:

“… but first, Rami Khouri is a senior fellow at the American University in Beirut. He told me more about Samir Kuntar.”

Khouri was given a platform from which to whitewash terrorism against Israelis by means of inaccurate rebranding.

“He joined a Palestinian group in Lebanon called the Palestine Liberation Front and in 1979 he was involved in a guerilla operation in Israel which the Israelis called a terrorist operation…” [emphasis added]

A “guerilla operation” would by definition be directed against regular military forces. Kuntar’s cell targeted a civilian apartment building after killing a policeman who happened upon them by chance and then murdered a father and his small daughter. Kesby made no attempt to relieve audiences of the inaccurate impression given by Khouri and notably listeners were not told of the circumstances of Einat Haran’s death.

“Well Smadar Haran Kaiser’s husband was murdered by Samir Kuntar and her two daughters were also killed in that attack.”

Fortunately, Smadar Haran Kaiser proved to be more than capable of dealing with Kesby’s statements-cum-questions – several of which do not relate to the terror attack itself.

“The Israeli authorities haven’t confirmed or denied that they were responsible for this assassination today. Do you think they were and do you support it?”

“Is there a danger that this kind of attack provokes yet more violence?”

But in addition to the inaccurate information given to listeners, what is notable about this item is that (like most of the corporation’s coverage of this story) it focuses audience attention on the past, avoiding all mention of Kuntar’s more recent activities as an operative for Hizballah and Iran in Syria. That information is of course much more relevant to BBC audiences trying to understand the story.

Related Articles:

BBC radio stations mangle Samir Kuntar story – part one

Resources:

BBC World Service contact details

 

BBC radio stations mangle Samir Kuntar story – part one

h/t HG

Listeners to BBC radio channels on December 20th were provided with inaccurate information in items relating to the attack on a building in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana, in which Samir Kuntar and several others were killed.R4 6pm news 20 12

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Six O’Clock News’ (from 07:32 here) not only upgraded Kuntar’s Hizballah ranking whilst simultaneously downgrading the outfit from designated terrorist organisation to “militant group” but also misled listeners with regard to the fact that Kuntar’s role in the 1979 terror attack in Nahariya was proven in a court of law.  

“A leading figure in the Lebanese militant group Hizballah has been killed by a rocket attack in the Syrian capital Damascus. Samir Kuntar had previously spent thirty years in an Israeli prison for his alleged role in the killing of four people. Hizballah said Israel was behind the rocket attack. An Israeli minister welcomed his death but didn’t say whether his country had carried it out.” [emphasis added]

Kuntar was convicted of murder, attempted murder and kidnapping and sentenced to five life sentences plus 47 years imprisonment. 

It is of course difficult to believe that the BBC would use the inaccurate term “alleged” to conceal from its audiences the fact that due legal process resulting in conviction had taken place when reporting on a terrorist previously imprisoned in the UK.

Resources:

BBC Radio 4 contact details

Omission and equivalence in BBC News report on rockets from Lebanon

Early on the evening of December 20th residents of communities in the Western Galilee region had to scramble for cover in air-raid shelters as sirens warned of incoming missiles from Lebanon. Lebanese media reported that the missiles were fired by a Palestinian terror group.

“According to reports in Lebanon, the rockets were fired from south of Tyre. According to Lebanese security officials cited on local media, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was behind the rocket fire. According to the report, the rockets were transported to the launch site from one of the Palestinian refugee camps near Tyre. According to the report, the attack was a symbolic response to the assassination of Samir Kuntar, attributed to an Israeli airstrike by Hezbollah. PFLP members have fired rockets at Israel from the same area in the past.”

Additional reports suggested that the PFLP-GC had claimed the missile fire.

“The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a Syria-based Palestinian terror group, took responsibility for the rocket fire, according to Lebanese media cited by Israel’s Channel 2. […]

UNIFIL chief Luciano Portolano added that he was in contact with officials in Lebanon and Israel in a bid to restore calm.

“This is a serious incident in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and is clearly directed at undermining stability in the area. It is imperative to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of this attack. Additional troops have been deployed on the ground and patrols have been intensified across our area of operations in coordination with the LAF to prevent any further incidents,” Portolano said, according to the UNIFIL statement.”

Israel later responded to the attacks with artillery fire.missiles W Galilee 20 12

The BBC News website reported on the incident in an article carrying a headline implying equivalence between missile attacks aimed at civilian targets and retaliatory fire against the initiators of the attacks – “Fire traded over Israel-Lebanon border after militant’s death“. Notably, the headline once again uses the term “militant” to describe the murderer of four Israelis in 1979.

The very brief and superficial description of the incident found in that December 20th report failed to provide readers with any information about who launched the attacks which sparked the incident – but did name the responding party. The fact that the missiles were aimed at civilian communities and the ensuing dash by Israeli citizens for cover was apparently not considered newsworthy.

“Fire has been traded over the Israel-Lebanon border hours after a Lebanese militant was killed in a rocket strike in Syria.

The Israeli army said had fired artillery shells into southern Lebanon in response to rocket fire. There are no reports of injuries on either side.”

The rest of this article is comprised of text previously found in the BBC’s earlier report about Samir Kuntar and it hence recycles the issues appearing in that report. Problematic reporting was apparently not confined to the BBC’s English language website.

Tweet BBC persian Kuntar

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Terrorist murderer of four Samir Kuntar dubbed ‘militant’ by BBC News

Faux equivalence, ‘last-first’ reporting in BBC report on rocket attack from Lebanon

Terrorist murderer of four Samir Kuntar dubbed ‘militant’ by BBC News

A terrorist convicted by a court of law for the murders of four people was downgraded by the BBC to the status of “militant” on December 20th.

Kuntar on ME pge

Such terminology is also seen in the body of the article titled “Lebanese militant Samir Qantar killed in rocket strike in Syria” and the international terror organization with which Kuntar was most recently associated is described in similarly euphemistic language.

“Key Lebanese militant Samir Qantar has been killed in a rocket strike near the Syrian capital, Damascus, Hezbollah has said.

The Lebanese Shia militant group blamed Israel for the air strike.” [emphasis added]

The BBC also found it appropriate to amplify a denial by Kuntar – despite the existence of forensic evidence to the contrary.  

“He was convicted of murder over an attack on a civilian apartment block in Nahariya in 1979, carried out when he was 16.

Two policemen, a man and his four-year-old daughter were killed. A baby girl was accidentally smothered by her mother as she hid in a cupboard.

He was accused of killing the four-year-old girl with a rifle butt, which he denied.” [emphasis added]

The article goes on to state:Kuntar vers 1

“His release in 2008 in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah in 2006 was highly controversial.”

Audiences are not informed that Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were “captured by Hezbollah” and killed in an unprovoked cross border raid into Israeli territory.

Whilst the BBC’s report focuses on the attack committed by Kuntar in 1979, it does not inform readers that at the time he was an operative for another designated terrorist organization – the Palestine Liberation Front.

That focus on Kuntar’s past comes at the expense of the provision of obviously relevant context concerning his more recent activities, which this article condenses into the following opaque statement:

“Qantar is believed to have become a key figure in Hezbollah since his release.”

Whilst refraining from reporting adequately on that topic in its own words, the article quotes a US State Department announcement from three months ago which the BBC did not find newsworthy (in English, at least) at the time.

“In September, the US state department designated him a terrorist saying he had become one of Hezbollah’s “most visible and popular spokesmen”.

“Since Qantar’s return, he has also played an operational role, with the assistance of Iran and Syria, in building up Hezbollah’s terrorist infrastructure in the Golan Heights,” it said.”

A caption to one of the images illustrating the article states “[a] number of other people were killed in the air strike” but BBC audiences are not provided with any further information.

“Syrian media said that among the dead was Farhan Shaalan, a commander in the National Defense Forces, a Syrian anti-Israel resistance group founded by Kuntar and others. Those reports said that senior Hezbollah members were also present in the building at the time of the attack.”

Readers are not provided with detail about the obviously relevant issue of Kuntar’s recent operational roles with Hizballah and Iran– as documented in an article earlier this year from the Washington Institute.

“Meanwhile, Israel is also contending with terrorist threats from locals — including Druze — recruited by Hezbollah to place roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs) near the Golan security barrier. Israeli military officials pointed to at least fifteen such attacks from March to December 2014. As one general told the New York Times last November, using locals provides plausible deniability; “Hezbollah gives them the IEDs and the Iranians give them the inspiration,” he noted. In January, an Israeli airstrike killed Jihad Mughniyah, son of the late Hezbollah terrorist chief Imad Mughniyah, as he took a “commanders’ tour” of the area; an Iranian general and several other operatives were killed as well. Since then, Jihad’s brother Mustafa has taken on a more prominent role in this part of Syria.

Although neither Hezbollah nor Iran wants to draw Israel into Syria at the moment, both feel compelled to maintain their credentials as pillars of the “resistance” against Israel. Accordingly, Hezbollah has used Samir Kuntar — a Lebanese Druze convicted for murdering an Israeli family in 1979 and released in a 2008 prisoner swap — to actively recruit Druze youths for terrorist attacks. Kuntar reportedly started off recruiting local militias to defend Druze villages from JN and other rebels. He then privately approached a few trusted recruits from Khadr to attack Israel, including two youths who originally came from Majdal Shams across the border.

Recruiting Druze, let alone Israeli Druze, put the entire community in a precarious position. Making matters worse, Kuntar’s cell carried out an IED attack on April 27, which fell during the major Druze holiday of Ziyarat al-Nabi Shuayb. Furious over the incident, one Druze leader reportedly made a youth publicly disavow his involvement in Kuntar’s group while standing in front of his whole village.”

Readers may recall that the April incident was also the subject of some confusing BBC reporting which made liberal use of the term “militants” and was as unsatisfactory as most of the previous BBC reporting on Hizballah attacks against Israel in the Golan Heights. However, whilst those incidents were not mentioned in this report, the writer did find it necessary to inform readers that “Israel is believed to have carried out a number of attacks inside Syria during its civil conflict, targeting Hezbollah”.

At least one Hizballah-linked figure has already threatened Israel following Kuntar’s death. If – or more likely when – such an attack comes, BBC audiences will of course be too under-informed to understand its context. 

BBC covers US terror designations for Hamas and Hizballah operatives – but not in English

Earlier this week the US State Department announced new terror designations for three members of Hamas and one Hizballah operative.

Ynet reported:

“The US Department of State has designated Yahya Sinwar, Samir Kuntar, Rawhi Mushtaha, and Mohammed Deif as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, it was revealed Tuesday.

Deif is the leader of Hamas’s military wing, while Sinwar is another senior member of Hamas. Kuntar is a Hezbollah operative who participated in a Nahariya terror attack that killed five Israelis, was imprisoned, and later released before returning to Lebanon. Mushtaha was also released in the same prisoner exchange, and is a member of the political branch of Hamas.

The designation means that all property subject to US jurisdiction in which the individuals have any interest is blocked and US persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them or to their benefit. […]

Regarding Kuntar, who was released from an Israeli prison in 2008, the State Department sad, that following his return to Lebanon, he joined Hezbollah and “has since emerged as one of the group’s most visible and popular spokesmen. Since Kuntar’s return, he has also played an operational role, with the assistance of Iran and Syria, in building up Hezbollah’s terrorist infrastructure in the Golan Heights.””BBC Arabic Kuntar art

Whilst the BBC did consider that story newsworthy enough to be the subject of an article on the BBC Arabic website, no equivalent report was provided for English speakers who – as regular readers know – are already grossly under-informed on the subject of Iranian and Hizballah activity along the border between Israel and Syria.

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