On November 8th an article titled “Palestinian shot dead by Israeli troops in West Bank” appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website.
The article actually relates to three attempted terror attacks which took place between the evening of Thursday November 7th and the morning of Friday November 8th, with the incident described in the opening of the BBC article being the second of those incidents.
“A Palestinian man was shot at a checkpoint in Abu Dis near Jerusalem after he tried to stab a Border Police guard late Thursday night, Israel Radio reported.
The Border Police guards manning the checkpoint were inspecting another car when a Palestinian man in his 20s came at them, brandishing a knife, according to the report.
One of the guards spotted the man and shouted at him to stop. When he failed to do so, he was shot, and later died of his wounds.”
The BBC’s report clearly promotes equivalence between the Israeli Police Force description of the incident and the version promoted by the man’s family.
“Israeli troops have shot dead a Palestinian who tried to stab one of them in the West Bank, an Israeli police spokesman has said.
Micky Rosenfeld said a man brandishing a knife was killed by Border Police officers after he ignored their calls to stop at a checkpoint near Jerusalem.
But the dead man’s father insisted that he had simply been attempting to get out of his car after being stopped.” […]
“Relatives of the man shot dead on Friday named him as Anas al-Atrash, 23, from Hebron.
“They stopped my two sons at the checkpoint and they were waiting to be checked. Then the soldiers came to the car and opened the door and my son tried to get out and they shot him,” his father, Fuad, told AFP.
The brother was arrested, he added.
The account differed from that of Mr Rosenfeld, who said: “The Palestinian had a knife in his hand and a border police officer responded by firing shots at the suspect who was injured seriously and pronounced dead a short while after.” “
As of the time of writing, the BBC report has not been updated to reflect the fact that messages posted on Atrash’s Facebook account contradict the family’s version of events – and the BBC’s suggestion of equivalence between the accounts.
Hours before that attack, an incident in which a man fired an improvised weapon at four people standing at a bus stop took place at Tapuach Junction – which the BBC erroneously describes as a “checkpoint” and once again places “near […]Nablus” despite the fact that it is considerably closer to Kfar Tapuach and Ariel. Notably, the BBC account has the attacker “firing […] at a checkpoint”- an inanimate object – rather than at human beings.
“On Thursday, a man was shot by Israeli troops after firing an “improvised weapon” – thought to be a firework or a flare gun – at a checkpoint near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, Israeli police said.
The dead man was identified as Bashar Habanin, a 29-year-old from the village of Mirka, near Jenin.
He was a lecturer at Tulkarm University and not known to have belonged to any political or militant group, according to the AFP news agency.”
The third terror attack mentioned in this report took place on the morning of Friday, November 8th when attackers threw a firebomb at a passing vehicle. That incident gets just two sentences of coverage in the BBC article.
“In a separate incident on Friday, two Israeli civilians were lightly wounded when Palestinians threw firebombs at their car near the Tekoa settlement.
The civilians managed to escape the vehicle, which was set on fire.”
The BBC report fails to make it clear that the injured people were evacuated to hospital.
“Zachi Khouri recounted, “What basically happened was that there was a giant explosion, we didn’t understand what was going on. It took me a second to realize that my wife was on fire. The car started to burn. I opened the door, pulled her to me. I tried calling rescue services, there was no reception. It took me a long time until I could reach someone.”
So, here we have a BBC report on three separate terrorist incidents in less than 24 hours which provides the names, ages and places of residence of two of the attackers and the profession of one, whilst casting doubts on the details of one attack, erroneously depicting another as being directed at an inanimate object, downplaying the third with no humanizing identifying details of its victims and, of course, scrupulously avoiding the use of the word terror throughout.
At the end of the article, the BBC takes the trouble to promote the notion of linkage between this spate of terror attacks and the state of progress, as it perceives it, in the ongoing talks between Israel and the PLO.
“The violence came after US Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an effort to revive faltering peace talks.
In a television interview on Thursday, Mr Kerry warned that failure to negotiate a two-state solution could trigger another Palestinian uprising against Israel.
“The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos,” he said. “I mean, does Israel want a third intifada?” “
The promotion of that linkage is made possible by the fact that, as frequently noted here, the BBC fails to report the vast majority of terror attacks and is hence able to mislead its audiences into a perception – riddled with the bigotry of low expectations – of terrorism as some sort of ‘inevitable’ reaction on the part of Palestinians to frustration with the peace process.
However, that narrative ignores the use of terror by elements within Palestinian society which are opposed to peace talks as a method of derailing them and places the onus of responsibility for any potential failure to progress in those talks exclusively at Israel’s door. The promotion of such a politically motivated narrative is of course inappropriate for an organization with a constitutional charter which obliges it to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues” by means of accurate and impartial reporting.