BBC manages to report on three terror attacks without mentioning the word terror

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. 

Machsom Hakiosk incident

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.

That incident occurred at around 23:15 on Thursday evening at the Kiosk (Wadi Nahar) checkpoint.

“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.”

Firebomb Gush Etzion Friday

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. 

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BBC claims attacks on Israelis in Judea & Samaria are “rare”

Early on the morning of Tuesday, April 30th, thirty-two year-old Evyatar Borovsky from Yitzhar (the father of five children) was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist whilst standing at a bus stop at the Tapuach junction in Samaria.

An article on the subject titled “Israeli settler killed in West Bank” appeared in the Middle East section of the BBC News website shortly afterwards. 

Pigua Tapuach

The article, which has been amended several times since its initial publication, opens:

“An Israeli settler has been killed by a Palestinian at a bus stop in the northern West Bank, police say.”

Interestingly, the BBC writer found it necessary to describe the Israeli man as a “settler” both in the headline and the article, although audiences would have understood the sentence perfectly well without that political addition. The use of the word “killed” does not reflect the fact that the assailant was in prior possession of a knife and stabbed his victim from behind. In the UK, that would most likely be described as murder.

The article goes on:

“The attack took place at Tapuah Junction, near the city of Nablus, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.”

Tapuach Junction is of course actually near Kfar Tapuach and is closer to Ariel than to Nablus (Schem).

Tapuach Junct

The report continues: [emphasis added]

“Reports say the Palestinian stabbed the man before grabbing his gun and shooting him. The attacker was shot and wounded by security forces, police say.

Palestinians and Israeli troops have clashed recently in the West Bank, but attacks on settlers there are rare.”

That, of course, is a complete BBC fabrication.

The article also expands that theme later on:

“Tuesday’s attack is the first time a settler has been killed by a Palestinian in the West Bank since 2011.”

Indeed, since September 2011 there have, fortunately, been no fatalities as a result of terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, but that is not through want of trying, as the family of Adele Biton – who is still fighting for her life after the stone-throwing attack on her mother’s car in March – is only too aware.  

In March 2013 the Israel Security Agency reported 101 terror attacks in Judea and Samaria. In February, 100 attacks – 84 of those fire-bombings. January 2013 saw 56 terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, including the stabbing of a teenager at the same Tapuach Junction. In December 2012 eighty-one terror attacks took place in Judea and Samaria and in November 2012 there were 122 attacks. 

That means that in the one hundred and fifty-one days from the beginning of November 2012 until the end of March 2013, four hundred and sixty terror attacks took place in Judea and Samaria. That is an average of over three a day. 

16 month-old child hurt in stone-throwing attack near Tapuach junction, September 2012

Judea and Samaria are 125 kilometers in length and between 25 and 50 kilometers wide, with a total area of 5,860 km2, and with the areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority off limit to Israelis. The English county of Cumbria is 907 km2 larger than the whole of Judea and Samaria. If the residents of Cumbria were to suffer an average of three daily terrorist stabbings, shootings, fire-bombings, IED attacks or attempted murder with rocks thrown at moving vehicles, we can be pretty confident that the BBC would not describe such attacks as “rare” – even if they did not end in fatalities.

Not only is this latest attempt by the BBC to downplay and whitewash Palestinian terror against Israeli civilians living in Judea and Samaria a gross breach of BBC Editorial Guidelines on accuracy and impartiality, it is also quite frankly repugnant.

Update: It appears that approving messages of support for the murderer have been posted on the official Facebook page of Fatah – PA president Mahmoud Abbas’ own party. We will of course await the ensuing BBC update to its report.

 Update 2: BBC News Online’s Middle East desk  has now slightly revised this report and paragraph four now reads: [emphasis added]

“Palestinians and Israeli troops have clashed recently in the West Bank, but fatal attacks on settlers are rare.”

Revised Tapuach Junct

Whilst the amendment is welcome, it contributes nothing towards accurately informing BBC audiences of the scale of terrorism against Israeli civilians in Judea and Samaria and still airbrushes the intentions of those perpetrating the daily attacks out of the picture. “Fatal attacks” – i.e. murder – may not be a quotidian event, but attempted murder certainly is and the BBC’s whitewashing of that fact continues to compromise its reputation for accuracy and impartiality.