As was noted here two years ago:
“Between August 16th  and August 20th inclusive the BBC News website’s Middle East page featured an article titled “Dutchman returns Holocaust medal after family deaths in Gaza“. The same article also appeared on the website’s Europe page, as did a filmed version of the report (also shown on television news) by the BBC’s correspondent in The Hague, Anna Holligan, under the headline “Dutchman returns Holocaust medal to Israeli embassy over Gaza deaths“.
The written version states:
“A Dutchman honoured by Israel for hiding a Jewish child during World War Two has handed back his medal after six of his relatives were killed in an Israeli air strike on Gaza.
Henk Zanoli, 91, wrote to the Israeli embassy in The Hague to say he could no longer hold the honour.
He said an Israeli F-16 had destroyed his great-niece’s home in Gaza, killing all inside, in the recent offensive. [….]
His great-niece is a Dutch diplomat who is married to Palestinian economist Ismail Ziadah, who was born in a refugee camp in central Gaza.
Mr Ziadah’s mother, three brothers, a sister-in-law and nine-year-old nephew were all killed after their family home was hit by Israeli aircraft.””
We noted at the time that another person present in the apartment when the incident took place was a senior Hamas commander called Mohammed Mahmoud al-Maqadma. Some weeks later we noted that it had emerged that one of the Ziyadeh (Ziadah) brothers – also present in the building at the time – was also a member of Hamas’ Al Qassam brigades.
The Military Attorney General has now published the results of the investigation into that incident (section 2 here).
“In media reports it was alleged that on 20 July 2014, at around 14:00, seven members of the Ziyadeh family were killed as the result of an IDF attack on a building in Al-Bureij. The incident was subsequently referred to the FFA Mechanism for examination.
The factual findings collated by the FFA Mechanism and presented to the MAG indicate that on 20 July 2014, the IDF carried out an aerial strike on a structure that was being used as an active command and control center by the Hamas terror organization. The attack aimed to neutralize both the command and control center and the military operatives who were manning it, and who, according to information received in real-time, were involved in terror activity which threatened IDF forces operating in the area. It was further indicated, that the structure was also utilized by the military operative Mohammed Muqadama, a senior figure in Hamas’ military observation force.
In the course of the strike planning process it was assessed that the extent of the harm expected to result to civilians as a result of the attack would not be excessive in relation to the significant military advantage that was anticipated to result from a strike on the military command and control center and the military operatives who were manning it. The strike was planned for execution by means of a precise munition, and in a way which would allow for the strike’s objective to be achieved, whilst limiting the potential for collateral damage to surrounding buildings. It was further found, that it would not have been possible to provide a warning prior to the strike on the building, as such a warning was expected to frustrate the objective of the attack.
As noted above, it is alleged that as a result of the strike seven people were killed. Findings indicated that among the casualties were three military operatives in the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organizations, who were members of the Ziyadeh family, as well as the senior military operative mentioned above, Mohammed Muqadama.
After reviewing the factual findings and the material collated by the FFA Mechanism, the MAG found that the targeting processes in question accorded with Israeli domestic law and international law requirements.
The decision to strike was taken by the competent authorities, and the objects of the attack were military targets – an active command and control center and military operatives affiliated with the Hamas terror organization. The attack complied with the principle of proportionality, as at the time the decision to attack was taken it was considered that the collateral damage expected to arise as a result of the attack would not be excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated to result from it. This estimation was not unreasonable under the circumstances.” [emphasis added]
Both of Anna Holligan’s reports are still available online in their original form and the written report continues to amplify the following statement:
“Mr Zanoli, a retired lawyer, offered sharp criticism of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge offensive, warning that such actions could lead to possible convictions of “war crimes and crimes against humanity”.”
This additional claim still appears in the article’s closing lines:
““Against this background it is particularly shocking and tragic that today, four generations on, our family is faced with the murder of our kin in Gaza. Murder carried out by the State of Israel,” he wrote in the letter addressed to Israeli ambassador Haim Davon.”
The BBC’s editorial guidelines state that:
“However long ago our online content was first published, if it’s still available, editorial complaints may legitimately be made regarding it.”
Clearly the BBC needs to take the long overdue action of adding footnotes to both those reports in order to clarify to visitors to its website that the three civilian Ziyadeh family casualties were brought about by the fact that terrorists – including three of their relatives – were using the family home as a command and control centre and that most of those killed in this legitimate military operation were terror operatives.
Particularly in light of the publication of the findings of the official investigation into this incident, the failure to clarify its circumstances in the content still available online potentially risks the waste of publicly provided resources on easily avoidable complaints to the BBC.
The missing piece in the BBC Hague correspondent’s Gaza story
More on the BBC’s ‘Dutchman returns Holocaust medal’ story