BBC post terror attack report focuses on travel permits rather than victims

Following the deadly acts of terror in Paris in November 2015 and in Brussels in March 2016, the BBC found it appropriate to provide its audiences with information about the victims killed and wounded in those attacks.

The morning after the June 8th terror attack in Tel Aviv in which four people were murdered and sixteen wounded, the BBC News website found it appropriate to focus audience attentions on a topic other than its victims.  The website’s Middle East page ran the headline “Palestinian permits frozen after attack”, linking to an article titled “Tel Aviv shooting: Israel suspends Palestinian permits“.

Pigua Sarona mkt follow up art permits

The third version of that report was amended to include the names, ages and gender of the four victims of the previous evening’s attack. In contrast to the articles concerning the Paris and Brussels attacks, no additional personal details or photographs were provided.

“Two women – Ilana Nave, 39, and Mila Mishayev, 32 – and two men – Ido Ben Aryeh, 42, and Michael Feige, 58 – were killed in the shootings, police said.”

Editors did however consider it necessary to amend the report in order to inform BBC audiences of the terrorists’ sartorial tastes.

“The two gunmen, who were smartly dressed, opened fire with automatic weapons on diners and passers-by after sitting down and ordering food at one of the complex’s restaurants.”

Once again, the only use of the word terrorism in the report came in the form of a direct quote.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Sarona complex shortly after Wednesday night’s attack, calling it “a savage crime of murder and terrorism”.”

While failing to note the fact that Hamas is a proscribed terrorist organization, the report included the following information:

“Islamist group Hamas praised what it called an “heroic attack” but did not say it was behind it.

In a statement a day after the killings, the West Bank-based Palestinian Presidency said it “repeatedly emphasised its rejection of all operations targeting civilians regardless of their identity and irrespective of the justifications”, without directly addressing the Tel Aviv attack.”

Readers were not however told that Fatah – also headed by Mahmoud Abbas – put out statements concerning the terror attack which used language remarkably similar to that adopted by Hamas spokesmen.  [emphasis added]

“”The Fatah Movement stated in a notice from the Mobilization and Organization Commission” that the Tel Aviv operation (i.e., terror attack, 4 murdered) which occurred last night is a private and spontaneous natural response to Israel’s choosing force…

Head of the Information Committee of the Fatah Mobilization and Organization Commission Munir Al-Jaghoub said: ‘Israel needs to understand the results of its actions, [which are] a continuation of the promotion of the option of violence and the policy of demolishing homes and expelling residents of Jerusalem, and the ongoing invasions of the Al-Aqsa Mosque plaza by the herds of settlers… and the cold blooded murder of Palestinians at their checkpoints, which are spread through the territories occupied since 1967.'”

“In a brief press release on Thursday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri deemed the operation a natural response to the Israeli occupation’s crimes against Palestinians and the constant Israeli desecration of al-Aqsa Mosque and Muslim sanctities.”

The report did include a rarely seen mention of Palestinian celebration of the terror attack.

“News of the attack was greeted in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip with fireworks and cheering. Some Palestinians handed out sweets and waved flags in celebration.”Pigua Sarona mkt follow up art

The main focus of the report was on the topic of the temporary suspension of entry permits into Israel previously issued to Palestinians resident in the PA and Hamas controlled territories.

“Israel says it has suspended entry permits for 83,000 Palestinians after gunmen killed four people in an attack at an open-air complex in Tel Aviv. […]

Israel later announced a permit ban that will impact Palestinians in the West Bank and in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip who had planned to visit relatives in Israel, attend Ramadan prayers in Jerusalem or travel abroad via Tel Aviv’s airport.”

The report did not clarify to readers that those permits were announced several days earlier within the framework of the special goodwill measures adopted for Ramadan. 

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Comparing BBC personalisation of victims of terror in Paris, Brussels and Israel

BBC coverage of Sarona Market terror attack – part one

BBC coverage of Sarona Market terror attack – part two

 

BBC coverage of Sarona Market terror attack – part two

As was noted in part one of this post, while news of the terror attack at the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv on June 8th was emerging, the head of the BBC’s Jerusalem bureau took to Twitter to inform his followers that such attacks are “rare”.

Sarona complex, Tel Aviv

Sarona complex, Tel Aviv

Despite the fact that this was the sixth terror attack in the Tel Aviv district in less than nine months and that its four victims bring the number of civilians murdered in the city in that time to ten, that theme was also in evidence in the report produced by the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ on the evening of June 8th.

Presenter Tim Franks described the terrorists (from 14:11 here) as follows:

“…we’re able to bring you up to date on that story that broke just before we came on air and that’s news of a shooting attack in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. The police say that…eh…three people have died, that two assailants were involved in the attack….” [emphasis added]

During the conversation with his interviewee – Ben Hartman of the Jerusalem Post – Franks promoted the notion that terrorism in Tel Aviv is “rare”.

“I guess…ah….some of the striking things about this attack, Ben, are the…as you mentioned…I mean Tel Aviv has been relatively free of…of violence…ah…in recent months.”

He later introduced further misleading and inaccurate claims into the conversation.

“And I suppose also, Ben, ahm…the attacks that we’ve got used to reporting – at least… ahm… within Israel, within Jerusalem – have been…tended to be…those people…ahm… going after – Palestinians going after – maybe members of the security forces with things like screwdrivers or in cars; that sort of thing and not this rather sort of…ahm…bigger attack using weapons. Err…err…guns, rather.”

As readers can see for themselves in the monthly reports produced by the Israeli Security Agency, the number of civilians killed and wounded in terror attacks since October 2015 is considerably higher than the number of members of the security forces, meaning that Franks’ implication that the terrorists primarily target soldiers and policemen is false and materially misleading to audiences. The same reports show that his attempt to suggest to audiences that the weapons of choice have been confined to “screwdrivers” or “cars” is no less misleading: while the agency recorded 96 stabbing attacks (mostly with knives rather than screwdrivers) and 20 vehicular attacks between October 2015 and May 2016, it also recorded 77 attacks using firearms and 132 attacks using IEDs.

Franks also made an unexplained reference to a building in the proximity of the Sarona Market.

Sarona complex, Tel Aviv

Sarona complex, Tel Aviv

“Ahm…this was an open-air mall as well. I mean one normally associates these malls, these shopping areas, as having fairly heavy security and it’s pretty close to the main defence HQ, isn’t it?”

The mention of the proximity of the site of the attack to the offices of the Ministry of Defence was also a feature of additional BBC reporting, including the BBC News website’s written report on the attack.

“The attacks took place in two locations in Sarona Market, close to Israel’s defence ministry and main army HQ.”

There too, the BBC refrained from informing audiences why it apparently perceives that information to be relevant. 

Listeners to the 10:30 p.m. news bulletin on BBC Radio 5 live (from 01:58 here) heard that same theme promoted:

“Police in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv say they’ve made two arrests after a shooting at a popular shopping and restaurant area that’s left four people dead. The attack happened near the country’s defence ministry.”

Later bulletins on that same station at midnight (from 01:30:00 here) and at 01:00 (from 00:47 here) similarly failed to clarify to listeners that the “shooting” was a terror attack.

Listeners to the BBC’s most popular radio station – Radio 2 – on the evening of June 8th may have noticed an interesting editorial decision in news reports on the attack.

The third item in the station’s 9 p.m. news bulletin (from 01:00:59 here) informed listeners that:

“Three people have been killed and five wounded in a shooting in Tel Aviv. The attack happened in an area of bars and restaurants. Two suspects are in custody. Police are still looking for a possible third gunman.”

However, an hour later in the 10 p.m. news bulletin (from 00:06 here), the report was changed.

“Three people have been killed and five seriously wounded in a shooting attack in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. The attack happened near the country’s defence ministry. Police say two suspects are in custody, one of whom is undergoing surgery.”

At 11 p.m. listeners to the news (from 00:08 here) were told that:

“Israeli police say two Palestinian gunmen have opened fire in Tel Aviv, killing at least four people. Thirteen others were wounded in the incident near the Israeli defence ministry. Both suspected attackers were arrested; one was injured by gunfire.”

In other words, not only were Radio 2 listeners not informed that this was a terror attack but the BBC decided to erase the information which previously enabled them to understand that the victims were customers frequenting cafés and restaurants and instead shifted the focus over to a location unrelated to the story.

Related Articles:

Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel

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

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

Telegraph thinks it’s important that attack on Israelis occurred “near the defense ministry”  (UK Media Watch)

BBC coverage of Sarona Market terror attack – part one

As information concerning the terror attack in Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market on the evening of June 8th came to light, the BBC News website updated its report on the incident numerous times over a period of some ten hours.

The initial article was titled “‘Several wounded’ in Tel Aviv shooting”.  None of the later amendments to the headline – made after circumstances became clearer – informed readers that the incident was a terror attack, with editors opting instead to use the ambiguous phrasing “shopping centre attack”.

Pigua Sarona mkt headlines

The first three versions of the report made no mention of the word terror. Later versions included statements from the Tel Aviv chief of police, the Israeli prime minister and from eye witnesses which did include the word terror inside quotation marks but in all versions the BBC refrained from telling audiences in its own words that Palestinian terrorists had murdered and wounded civilians enjoying a night out in a café.

The latest version of the BBC’s report has not to date been updated to inform BBC audiences of the statement released by Hamas claiming that the terrorists are members of its organization or of the praise for the attack from Ismail Haniyeh.

The attack was the sixth in the Tel Aviv-Yaffo area since October of last year.

October 8th 2015: Tel Aviv: Female soldier and three others stabbed. Terrorist was shot and killed.

November 19th 2015: Tel Aviv: Two people were killed and one wounded in a stabbing attack during afternoon prayers in a Judaica store located in the Panorama building – a commercial center in southern Tel Aviv. The terrorist, from Dura in the West Bank, was apprehended. Hamas “welcomed” the attack. The victims: Rabbi Aharon Yesayev, 32, of Holon and Reuven Aviram, 51, of Ramle.

January 1st 2016: Tel Aviv: In a shooting attack at a pub, two killed – Alon Bakal (26), the pub’s manager, and Shimon Ruimi (30) – and 8 injured, two seriously. The assailant (29, Arab-Israeli citizen from Arara village in northern Israel) was killed a week later during an attempt to apprehend him. Taxi driver Amin Shaaban, 42, of Lod, was later shot and killed by the terrorist who carried out the shooting attack on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street.

March 8th 2016: Tel Aviv-Jaffa: 29-year-old American student Taylor Force was killed and 10 others wounded in a stabbing attack which began near the Jaffa port. The assailant fled on foot along the Tel Aviv beach promenade, stabbing passersby and motorists before he was shot and killed by police.

May 30th 2016: Tel Aviv: An Arab from Salfit (17) stabbed a soldier with a screwdriver. The assailant was arrested.

Nevertheless, the head of the BBC’s Jerusalem bureau thought it necessary to inform his Twitter followers that such attacks are “rare”.

Pigua Sarona mkt Colebourn tweet

That theme was also seen in some of the radio coverage of the attack which will be discussed in an upcoming post.

Related Articles:

Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel

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

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

 

Inaccuracies in BBC News reports on Tel Aviv gunman

After a week-long manhunt, on January 8th Israeli security forces located the terrorist who murdered three people in Tel Aviv a week beforehand and the attacker was killed after he opened fire on the police unit trying to arrest him.  The BBC News website reported the story in an article titled “Tel Aviv shooting suspect killed in northern Israel” which opens as follows:mosque Arara 1

“An Israeli Arab wanted for shooting dead three people in Tel Aviv on 1 January has been killed by security forces in northern Israel.

Nashat Melhem was tracked down to a mosque in his home town of Arara and killed in a gun battle, police said.” [emphasis added]

As the Times of Israel reported, that information was quickly shown to be inaccurate but, despite several other amendments having been made, the BBC’s report has not been updated accordingly.

“Channel 2 reported that the Israeli forces, from an elite police unit and the Shin Bet, had sought to capture him alive, but were fired upon by Milhem, who was using the same weapon he used for last Friday’s shootings.

Channel 2 said he was tracked down to a building where his family had lived in the past. The building is very close to the family’s current home. An initial report that Milhem was killed in a mosque in Umm a-Fahm was inaccurate.”

That same inaccuracy also appeared in another BBC News website report published on January 9th.

mosque Arara 2

In its reporting of the attack on January 1st, BBC News promoted irrelevant speculations about the background to the incident which still remain in situ on its website. Readers of this latest report are told that:

“Police have not yet established a motive for the Tel Aviv killings.”

BBC News did not cover the subsequent week-long search for the attacker and audiences remain unaware of the fact that in addition to the Simta bar – where two of the victims were shot dead – Nashat Milhem targeted a nearby café and a restaurant. This article also fails to provide that information – which is obviously relevant to any reporting on the topic of motive.

Unlike the BBC, Hamas has no doubts about Milhem’s motive.

“The television network of Palestinian terror group Hamas on Friday evening said Arab Israeli gunman Nashat Milhem “died as a shahid [martyr] from shooting by occupation forces,” after he was killed in a shootout Friday afternoon with officers from the police and Shin Bet security service. […]

The station also showed footage, filmed before Friday’s events, of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh addressing hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza City.

“He went in the streets of Tel Aviv like a brave hero,” Haniyeh said of Milhem, “in order to bring them death.””

The BBC has refrained from informing its audiences about Hamas’ glorification of the attack.

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BBC’s Kevin Connolly promotes irrelevant speculation on Tel Aviv shootings

BBC’s Kevin Connolly promotes irrelevant speculation on Tel Aviv shootings

BBC News coverage of the shooting attack which took place in Tel Aviv on the afternoon of January 1st included an article which continued to appear on the BBC News website under the headline “Tel Aviv shooting: Two dead, Israeli police say” long after the murders had been confirmed and the identities of the victims released into the public domain.Connolly filmed pigua TA 1 1

A filmed report for BBC television news programmes was also posted on the BBC News website under the title “Tel Aviv attack: Footage emerges of gunman“.

In that filmed report, BBC Jerusalem bureau correspondent Kevin Connolly told viewers:

“At first the motive for the shooting wasn’t clear. There were speculations it was linked to criminality and may even have been a hate crime against the gay community. But gradually it emerged that the police had identified a suspect and that the killings were almost certainly linked to the long-running dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Readers of later versions of the written report found ‘analysis’ of the story from Kevin Connolly which included similar messaging.

Connolly analysis pigua TA 1 1

As those in Israel who watched or listened to real-time reporting as the incident unfolded will know, there was indeed a lack of clarity concerning the background to the incident in the first hours after the lethal attack.

Local media outlets moved from scheduled programming to rolling coverage of the attack and – as happens worldwide in such cases – audiences heard journalists and interviewees hastily recruited to fill time and the vacuum created by the absence of verified information engaging copiously in unsubstantiated conjecture and guesswork for hours on end.

The “speculations” concerning a possible hate crime against the gay community which Connolly found it appropriate to amplify were not voiced by official sources but by local journalists unable to bring their audiences concrete information during an unfolding event and later further constrained by a gag order on publication of details of the case.

BBC guidance on reporting war, terror and emergencies stresses that “[a]t such times, when there may be conflicting information and opinions, and with reliable information hard to come by, we need to be scrupulous in applying our principles of accuracy and impartiality.”

The BBC’s editorial guidelines on accuracy state:

“The BBC’s commitment to accuracy is a core editorial value and fundamental to our reputation. Our output must be well sourced, based on sound evidence, thoroughly tested and presented in clear, precise language. We should be honest and open about what we don’t know and avoid unfounded speculation.” [emphasis added]

The editorial decision to amplify that particular item of unsupported speculation on various platforms – and especially after the circumstances of the incident had become clearer and its irrelevance demonstrated – is therefore one which requires explanation from the self-styled “standard-setter for international journalism”.  

BBC coverage of October 8 terror attacks downgrades terrorist to ‘suspected attacker’

Visitors to the BBC News website seeking information concerning the multiple terror attacks against Israelis which took place on October 8th found no information on that subject until the appearance of an article titled “Israelis injured in new spate of stabbings” some four and a half hours after the first major attack took place in Jerusalem and two hours after the attack in Tel Aviv. The article was subsequently amended several times to include information on additional attacks in Kiryat Arba and Afula.Oct 8 attacks art

The first attack is described as follows in the version of the report currently appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page:

“Hours earlier, a Jewish seminary student was seriously injured when he was stabbed in the neck by a Palestinian near a light rail station in the French Hill area of East Jerusalem, police said.

The assailant then reportedly fled the scene after attacking a security guard at the station and attempting to steal his weapon. He was eventually apprehended, police said.”

The report then goes on to state:

“Israeli security forces then shot dead a Palestinian man during clashes that erupted as they were moving towards the suspect’s home, Palestinian medics said.”

Earlier on in the report, that same incident is portrayed as follows:

“Israeli forces targeting the house of a suspected attacker in the West Bank then shot dead a Palestinian as clashes began, Palestinian medics said.”

The incident actually took place in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Shuafat rather than in “the West Bank” and the “clashes that erupted” when police went to search the house of Subhi Abu Khalifa would be more accurately described as violent riots.

“On Thursday night, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that a riot ensued in Shuafat when Border Police officers approached Khalifa’s home.

“When the Border Police went to Shuafat to enter the terrorist’s house, hundreds of Palestinians attacked them with rocks, pipe bombs and firebombs,” he reported.

“Fearing for their lives, police responded by firing shots at the lower parts of the bodies of the suspects that approached them.”

Rosenfeld said at least nine officers were wounded during the clash, but he could not confirm reports that a Palestinian man was killed.”

The second attack reported in this article took place in Tel Aviv at around 3 p.m. and is initially described as follows, with further detail added later on:

“Seven Israelis have been wounded and one suspected assailant killed in the latest spate of stabbing attacks.

Police said four Israelis were hurt in Tel Aviv before the suspected attacker was shot dead.”

Notably, earlier versions of the article accurately described Taeer Abu Gazala from Jerusalem as the “assailant” and “attacker”, with the word “suspected” having been added to the report hours later.

The third attack – in Kiryat Arba – is described in the report thus:

“Shortly afterwards, a Palestinian stabbed and seriously wounded a man near the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, close to the West Bank city of Hebron, the Israeli military said.

The attacker fled the scene and Israeli forces were searching the area, it added.”

The fourth attack, which took place in Afula at around 7 p.m., is described as follows:

“In yet another attack later on Thursday, an Israeli soldier was stabbed by an attacker in the northern Israeli town of Afula, police said.

They said the assailant – who was not identified – was arrested.”

The article has not been updated to inform audiences that the terrorist – Tarak Yaha – came from Jenin.

Towards the end of the report, readers are provided with the following ‘context’:

“Tensions between Israel and Palestinians have soared in the past couple of weeks, with the attacks on Israelis following clashes between troops and Palestinian youths at a flashpoint holy compound in East Jerusalem.”

The fact that what the BBC chooses to describe as “clashes” were in fact organized episodes of premeditated rioting aimed at preventing visits by non-Muslims to Temple Mount is clearly not adequately conveyed by that wording and yet again we see that no effort is made to inform BBC audiences of the related incitement from assorted official and unofficial Palestinian sources.

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Thumbs up to BBC Capital’s report on Tel Aviv

A recent BBC article about Israel garnered some rather surprised reactions on Facebook.

FB TA BBC Capital

Tiffanie Wen’s September 3rd article about Tel Aviv appearing on BBC Capital not only informs readers about the vibrant business and technology scenes in Israel but also gives a glimpse of the cultural and social life.BBC Capital TA

“The Mediterranean coastal city is hot right now, and not just for its nearly year-round summer temperatures, which can reach 40 degrees Celsius. In the last few years, Tel Aviv has been ranked the best smart city by the Smart City Expo World Congress, one of the best beach cities in the world by National Geographic, the best gay travel destination by gaycities.com and an outstanding culinary destination by Saveur Magazine. […]

The “city that never stops” is now the 6th fastest-growing destination city in the Middle East and Africa, with visitors estimated to spend $1.5bn in 2015 according to the 2015 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. […]

Israeli tech companies boasted a record year in 2014, with 18 IPOs worth $9.8bn and 52 mergers and acquisitions worth $5bn, according to a report by PcW Israel. Israel is the second most important start-up ecosystem outside of the US, according to the annual Startup Ecosystem Index, published by Compass Inc, formerly Startup Genome, which sells benchmarking and reporting software.”

Moreover, Wen proves herself to be one of a rare breed: a journalist who can accurately locate Israel’s capital city.

“While Jerusalem is Israel’s holiest city and capital, Tel Aviv is its defacto economic capital.”

Given the BBC’s record on the topic, that in itself is worthy of a big thumbs up.

BBC News website reporting of Tel Aviv terror attack

As news broke of the terror attack on the number 40 Dan bus in Tel Aviv early on the morning of January 21st, the BBC News website grabbed its scare quotes and got to work.

All versions of the report titled “Israel bus attack: Tel Aviv passengers stabbed” opened in typical ‘last-first’ reporting style by informing audiences that a man had been shot by the police before informing them why and the same policy was seen on BBC social media. Inverted commas placed around the words terror attack in earlier versions of the report were removed from later editions.

Bus attack 21 1 a

Bus attack 21 1 b

Bus attack 21 1 c

The use of unnecessary punctuation continued, however, on the BBC News website’s Middle East homepage in a link to a filmed report on the same topic.

Bus attack 21 1 on HP 2

The first two versions of the report informed readers that “In November, an Israeli soldier was killed in a knife attack in Tel Aviv, while an Israeli woman was stabbed to death in the West Bank in a separate attack” without clarifying that those two incidents were both terror attacks.

Subsequent versions of the article noted that the terrorist came from Tulkarem, stating that “Tulkarem is a town in the occupied West Bank” whilst in fact it is located in Area A and, in accordance with the Oslo Accords, has been under PA control for two decades.

Later editions of the report also included contributions from the Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly.

“Israeli police say there has been a pattern established in recent months where individual Palestinians, without sophisticated weapons, have attacked civilians at random, the BBC’s Kevin Connolly in Jerusalem reports.

Late last year, a number of Israelis were killed in attacks by Palestinians using weapons including knives and even vehicles to run down pedestrians.

Four Israelis were killed in November after two Palestinians armed with a pistol and meat cleavers attacked a synagogue in West Jerusalem.”

In addition to the fact that it would have been more accurate and informative to cite the exact number of people murdered in October and November 2014 instead of “a number of Israelis”, the article originally inaccurately stated that four people were killed in the Har Nof Synagogue attack rather than five as was actually the case. That error was subsequently corrected. Notably, no mention is made of the affiliations of many of those “individual Palestinians” with assorted terrorist organisations.

The report then goes on to state:

“Our correspondent says the latest round of tensions began to increase last year, after the summer conflict in Gaza and disputes over access to religious sites in the old city of Jerusalem.

More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in Gaza during the Israel-Gaza conflict, the majority of them civilians according to the UN.

Sixty-seven Israeli soldiers, and six civilians in Israel, were also killed.”

As we see, readers are not informed that “the summer conflict” took place in Israel as well as the Gaza Strip or that it began because terrorist organisations based there fired hundreds of missiles at Israeli civilians and constructed cross-border attack tunnels. In addition, the article continues the now well-established practice of quoting out of date civilian/combatant casualty ratios which the BBC has not independently verified. The BBC News website found it appropriate to illustrate this report about a terror attack in Tel Aviv with the image below.

Bus attack 21 1 pic Gaza

The BBC’s consistent practice of downplaying or ignoring Palestinian incitement and glorification of terrorism makes the phrasing of the following segment of this report particularly notable:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for the attack.

The attack was “the direct result of the poisonous incitement being disseminated by the Palestinian Authority against the Jews and their state”, he said.

The Israeli government frequently accuses Palestinian groups of inciting violence.

The government has been angered by Mr Abbas’ efforts to secure Palestinian membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and agreement to a unity government with militant group Hamas.

The Palestinians blame Israeli government policies, particularly the expansion of settlements, for the increase in violence, correspondents say.”

Audiences are not told who those anonymous “correspondents” are, but it is probably not too much of a gamble to assume that they include the same BBC employees who repeatedly promoted the notion that ‘settlements’ were the main reason for the terror attacks during October and November 2014. In fact, whilst this particular terrorist did not mention ‘settlements’ as a motivating factor for his actions, he did cite other factors, including “extremist Islamist television programs”.

Apparently refusing to connect the dots between “a unity government with militant group Hamas” and glorification of terrorism from “a senior Hamas official”, the writer of this report went on to inform audiences that:

“Izzat Risheq, a senior Hamas official, praised the stabbing attack.

Speaking from Qatar, he described it as “a natural response to the crimes of the occupation and terrorism against the Palestinian people”.”

Risheq was not the only Hamas official to condone the attack:

“The event was deemed a “natural response to Israeli terrorism,” by Hamas Spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri, who issued an official statement as events unfolded in Tel Aviv. 

The incident, the statement said, was a response to ongoing “Israeli crimes” against the Palestinian people. “

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum posted this status on Facebook, the Fatah Facebook account lauded the stabbings and some Palestinian media outlets also praised and celebrated the attack with a series of cartoons.

Throughout this report the language used by the BBC to describe the terrorist includes “suspect” (three times), “perpetrator” and “attacker”. The word terrorist is only used in quotes from Israeli sources. The continuing refusal to use accurate language to portray terror attacks in Israel must be assessed together with the BBC’s consistent avoidance of any serious reporting on Palestinian incitement and glorification of terrorism, its concurrent repeated promotion of subjectively selected factors (such as “expansion of settlements”) as ‘context’ for terror attacks against Israelis, and its transparent attempts to separate the ‘moderate’ Palestinian Authority from “militant” Hamas despite the existence of a unity government. Together, all those factors continue to obstruct audience understanding of this issue. 

 

BBC News website coverage of November 10 terror attacks reveals editorial policies

In the early afternoon of November 10th an eighteen year-old Palestinian from Askar near Nablus (Schem), who had entered Israel illegally, attacked an Israeli soldier with a knife near a train station in Tel Aviv. Two civilians were also injured when they tried to prevent the attacker from stealing the soldier’s gun and the terrorist was arrested shortly afterwards. Several hours later Staff Sergeant Almog Shiloni, aged 20 from Modi’in, died from the multiple stab wounds he sustained in the attack. A spokesman for Hamas (partner to the PA unity government) in Qatar praised the attack, describing it as “part of a welcome plan that reflects the tenacity of our people to resist the occupation and move against the crimes [committed] in al-Aqsa and in Jerusalem”.Pigua TA BBC tweet

The BBC News website reported the incident using the headline “Israel: Palestinian held as Israeli soldier stabbed“. Promotion of that short report on Twitter included the perennial superfluous punctuation around the phrase terror attack and that same BBC editorial policy was also evident in the opening paragraph of the article.

“An Israeli soldier has been stabbed and critically wounded in what police said was a “terror attack” in Tel Aviv.”

A brief round-up of recent fatal terror attacks in Jerusalem appearing in the article – presumably intended to provide readers with context to the incident – likewise refrained from using the word terror.TA terror attack bbc report

“Last week a Palestinian militant killed a policeman and a Jewish teenager after ramming his van into pedestrians at a tram stop in Jerusalem.

A similar car attack by a Palestinian in the same area two weeks earlier killed a woman and a baby.”

As has been the case in all BBC reporting on the issue of the surge of terror attacks in Israel throughout the last few weeks, no mention was made in this article of their backdrop: the severe incitement from parties to the Palestinian unity government.

Later on the same afternoon, an additional terror attack took place near Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion. Twenty-six year-old Dalia Lemkus from Tekoa was stabbed to death and two additional civilians were injured when a terrorist from Hebron tried to run over pedestrians at a bus stop and then got out of his vehicle and carried out stabbing attacks. The terrorist – a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – was shot by a security guard who arrived at the scene and the PIJ later claimed responsibility for the attack.

The BBC News website’s report on that attack (which replaced the above article) is currently titled “Israeli woman and soldier killed in two knife attacks” and amendments to it can be seen here.Pigua Alon Shvut art

At no point does the report clarify to readers that the attack was an act of terrorism or that the perpetrator was a member of a proscribed terrorist organization.

“An Israeli woman was later stabbed to death near the Alon Shvut Jewish settlement in the West Bank. The assailant was shot by a security guard. […]

The West Bank attack took place at the entrance to the Alon Shvut settlement.

The attacker tried to run over people in his car, hit a concrete barrier then got out of the vehicle, reports said.

He then stabbed the 26-year-old woman, named by Israeli media as Dalia Lamkus, along with two other Israelis at a bus stop. The two injured men were taken to hospital.

The attacker was shot several times by a security guard and was taken from the scene in a serious condition, emergency services said.”

In fact, the only mention of the word terror in a report about two separate terror attacks comes once again in the form of a quote from the Israeli police and with superfluous qualifying punctuation.

“Monday’s earlier incident in Tel Aviv took place at a busy train station and was described by police as a “terror attack”.”

Also notable is the fact that this BBC report – like many previous ones – steers audiences towards the adoption of a flawed narrative which completely erases the hundreds of missile attacks on Israeli civilians carried out by terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip which took place in the weeks preceding this summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas.Pigua Alon Shvut on HP

“The attack took place close to where three Israeli students were abducted and killed by Palestinian militants in June, an incident which led to the revenge killing in Jerusalem of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists.

Tensions then escalated into a 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.”

The report closes with ‘context’ provided by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly.Pigua Alon Shvut 2

“BBC Middle East correspondent Kevin Connolly says there has been no real pattern to the recent spate of attacks – the attackers appear to have acted suddenly, meaning there is no advance intelligence to forewarn the authorities.

In two other attacks in the past three weeks, Palestinian militants rammed vehicles into pedestrians in Jerusalem, killing four people. Both attackers were shot dead.

A Palestinian suspected of shooting and wounding a prominent right-wing activist, Rabbi Yehuda Glick, in Jerusalem at the end of last month was also shot dead in a gun battle with Israeli police.

Our correspondent says that many Israelis feel the security situation has been deteriorating, with the summer conflict in Gaza, the dispute over rights of prayer at a holy site in Jerusalem and continuing Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem all factors in a worsening atmosphere.”

Yet again we see the legal purchase of properties in specific geographical areas by people of a certain religion or ethnicity framed by the ‘progressive’ BBC as “settlement” and audiences encouraged to view that as an element of the context to recent violent attacks carried out by Palestinians.Pigua Alon Shvut BBC tweets 2

However, this article – like its predecessor and all other previous BBC reports in recent weeks – erases the very relevant issue of Palestinian incitement – both official and unofficial – from audience view – just like those hundreds of pre-Operation Protective Edge missiles have been erased from the BBC’s narrative.

For months now partners in the Palestinian unity government have been inciting violence and terror. The BBC has religiously ignored incitement and glorification of terrorism by the PA president, by his party Fatah, by PA institutions, by official PA media and by Abbas’ unity government partners Hamas.

“Let me say, loud and clear, to our people in the West Bank: Don’t you have cars? Don’t you have motorcycles? Don’t you have knives? Don’t you have clubs? Don’t you have bulldozers? Don’t you have trucks? Anyone who has a knife, a club, a weapon, or a car, yet does not use it to run over a Jew or a settler, and does not use it to kill dozens of Zionists, does not belong to Palestine.

Palestine says loud and clear: Real men are those who avenge the blood of Gaza. Real men are those who avenge the blood of the Gaza Strip. Real men will not sleep until they have avenged the blood of Gaza.

To our people within the Green Line [Israeli Arabs], we say: It is time for you to declare a new phase in this struggle. Political and social considerations are worthless. Blood and martyrdom are the only considerations that matter. The Palestinian people has no choice but to wage this battle in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Jerusalem, and in all the cities of occupied Palestine.” (Source – Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas, July 30th 2014.)

The BBC has an entire department devoted to the Arabic language. It could easily prepare a comprehensive backgrounder on the issue of Palestinian incitement in order to enhance audience understanding of the significance of that factor in the current surge in terror attacks against Israelis.

The fact that the BBC elects instead to omit any mention of that topic from its coverage speaks volumes (as does its avoidance of accurately defining terror attacks) about its supposed commitment to accuracy and impartiality and the political motivations behind editorial decisions.

Terror in Tel Aviv: scare quotes at the BBC.

Here is the BBC’s report on the terrorist bombing of a number 142 Dan bus in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday lunchtime, November 21st:

A deliberate terrorist attack is termed a ‘Bomb blast’ – in ‘well, that’s what they’re telling us’ inverted commas.  

The article continues:

“There has been an explosion on a bus in Israel’s commercial capital Tel Aviv, police say, amid continuing exchanges between Israel and militants in Gaza.

There are at least 10 injuries in what police called a “terrorist attack”.”

Further down, the liberal sprinkling of scare quotes continues:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Ofir Gendelman said on his Twitter account that the explosion was caused by a bomb and that it was “terrorist attack”.

Emergency services say five of the wounded in the bus explosion are in a serious or moderate condition.

An Israeli who witnessed the explosion told Army Radio the bus was “completely charred”.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said the blast occurred on the corner of Shaul Hamelech and Henrietta Szold.

It said the injured were being taken to Ichilov hospital and that roadblocks had been set up in the area to search for a suspected bomber.

The attack took place on the eighth day of exchanges between Israel and militants in Gaza.

Some 139 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed.

Celebratory gunfire reportedly rang out in Gaza City when local radio relayed news of the bus attack.”

Before we are tempted to attribute the generous use of so much unnecessary punctuation to BBC caution until the picture is fully clear, we should perhaps compare and contrast with its reporting of the strike on the antennae of two office blocks in Gaza City earlier this week. 

What the above report does not include is reports on Twitter by its correspondents on the ground in Gaza that Hamas immediately took responsibility for the attack. 

The BBC’s Paul Danahar appeared to be trying to suggest that the target of the attack was of a military nature, which makes an interesting contrast to some of his tweets earlier in the week. 

(By the way, here is a recent event in Gaza which the plethora of BBC reporters on the ground there appears to have decided not to report, apart from a brief 29 words in this item.)

Update: 

The BBC now has footage of the aftermath of the attack up on its website – also broadcast on BBC News.

Note the wording of the report’s synopsis as it appears on the website: [emphasis added]

“At least 10 people have been injured in an explosion on a bus in Israel’s commercial capital, Tel Aviv, in what one Israeli official described as a “terrorist attack”. “