BBC News passes up chance to explain why Israeli counter-terrorism measures exist

The BBC’s portrayal of the reasons for restrictions on entry to Israel from the Gaza Strip is usually at best superficial and at worst misleading and politically motivated. Two months ago, for example, Yolande Knell made opportunistic use of a story about the rescue of neglected animals from a Gaza zoo for the promotion of a deliberately incomplete representation of those travel restrictions that made no mention of the factor which necessitates them: Palestinian terrorism.

“In Khan Younis at the Mahali [phonetic] family home, the children show me their plastic zoo animals and I tell them Laziz [the tiger] is moving to South Africa.”

“Akram Mahali says daily life is a struggle. Neither he nor his six children have ever seen life outside Gaza and they’re not likely to any time soon. With Hamas in control of the Palestinian territory, both Israel and Egypt impose tight border restrictions and limit travel.”

Voiceover Mahali: “There is nothing nice in Gaza. Really if I could I would take them out. I wish I could. There is no money, no happy life and there is no work. There are power cuts. I see now the animals are living better than humans.”

Knell closed that radio report with the following loaded statement:

“Then, just after dawn, the animals leave Gaza. Their suffering will soon be over but they leave behind Palestinians who continue to feel trapped.”

That report was not atypical: in the past BBC audiences have seen or heard restrictions on the movement of people and specific categories of goods in and out of the Gaza Strip inaccurately described as “collective punishment” or a “siege”.

There is therefore all the more reason for the BBC – which claims to be impartial and is tasked with building audience understanding of “international issues” – to report stories which would help its audiences understand the real reasons for the counter-terrorism measures which include restrictions on entry to Israel from the Gaza Strip. One such story was recently cleared for publication.erez

“On 21 September 2016, at Erez Crossing, the ISA, in cooperation with the Israel Police, arrested Mahmoud Yusuf Hasin Abu Taha, a resident of Khan Younis, as he sought to enter Israel via the Erez Crossing ostensibly for commercial purposes.

During his investigation it was learned that he led a terrorist cell guided by Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, and had been planning to carry out a large-scale terrorist attack at an events hall in the south and to abduct and murder an IDF soldier for bargaining purposes. 
It was also learned that Mahmoud Yusuf Hasin Abu Taha had been recruited by Wael Sufiyan Abu Taha, a senior Islamic Jihad terrorist, who resides in Gaza, and who had directed him to establish a military infrastructure and prepare to carry out the aforementioned attacks. Mahmoud Yusuf Hasin Abu Taha, in turn, recruited three additional cohorts who have also been arrested”.

Unsurprisingly, the BBC did not find that story newsworthy.

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Documenting the BBC’s continuing silence on Gaza smuggling

BBC waives another chance to explain why Gaza’s naval blockade exists


Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q3 2016 – part one

Between July 1st and September 30th 2016, eighty-seven reports with content relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. Some of the reports were produced by other departments (e.g. BBC Technology) or appeared on other pages of the website (e.g. ‘Europe’ or ‘Asia’) but were also posted on the Middle East

Four of those articles related to the wave of Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis which began in the autumn of 2015 and continued – albeit with lower intensity – during 2016. As readers can see for themselves, not one of those headlines included the term ‘terror’ and that editorial policy is similarly apparent in the reports themselves. 

(The dates in brackets represent the period of time in which each report was available to visitors to the website’s Middle East page.)

Israel seals off Hebron after surge of attacks (1/7/16 to 3/7/16) discussed here

Israeli forces shoot dead Palestinian suspected of killing rabbi (27/7/16 to 28/7/16) discussed here

Israel launches Gaza strikes after rocket attack on Sderot (22/8/16 to 23/8/16) discussed here

Spate of attacks on Israelis leaves three assailants dead (16/9/16 to 18/9/16) discussed here

A further two articles related to incitement to terrorism on social media.

Israel angered by Facebook hatred rules (4/7/16 to 5/7/16) Technology discussed here

Facebook sued by Israeli group over Palestinian attacks (11/7/16 to 13/7/16) discussed here

Four reports appeared around the tenth anniversary of the Second Lebanon War and also dealt with the topic of possible future conflict between Israel and Hizballah.

Hezbollah: Five ways group has changed since 2006 Israel war (11/7/16 to 13/7/16)

Ten years on, is Hezbollah prepared for another war with Israel? (12/7/16 to 15/7/16) discussed here

Israel ‘readier’ for new Hezbollah war (12/7/16 to 14/7/16) discussed here together with report below

On patrol with the Israel Defense Forces on Lebanon border (12/7/16 to 14/7/16)

Two reports related to Hamas’ conscription of aid workers at international organisations for the purposes of terrorism.

Israel: World Vision Gaza boss diverted cash to Hamas (4/8/16 to 5/8/16) discussed here

Israel: ‘Gaza UN worker helped Hamas’ (9/8/16 to 11/8/16) discussed here

In all, 13.8% of the BBC News website’s reports covered stories relating to security/terrorism. The additional topics found in the BBC’s coverage of Israel and the Palestinians during the third quarter of 2016 will be discussed in part two of this post.

Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part one

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part two

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2016 – part one 

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2016 – part two

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – July 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – August 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – September 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – September 2016

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during September 2016 shows that throughout the month a total of 109 incidents took place: 78 in Judea & Samaria, 26 in Jerusalem and five incidents originating from the Gaza Strip.

The agency recorded 77 attacks with petrol bombs, 19 attacks using explosive devices, two shooting attacks and six stabbing attacks in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem. One missile attack, three shooting attacks and one petrol bomb attack originated in the Gaza Strip.

Ten people (one civilian and nine members of the security forces) were wounded during September.

The BBC reported three attacks that took place on September 16th, including a stabbing attack in Hebron in which a soldier was wounded. The missile attack from the Gaza Strip on September 14th did not receive any coverage on the BBC News website.

Among the other incidents not reported by the BBC were a shooting attack at Joseph’s Tomb on September 1st in which a soldier was wounded, a shooting attack on September 4th and another two days later on the Gaza Strip border, a stabbing attack on September 17th in Hebron in which a soldier was wounded, a stabbing attack in Efrat on September 18th in which a soldier was wounded and a stabbing attack in Jerusalem on September 19th in which two police officers were wounded.

In conclusion, the BBC News website reported three (2.75%) of the 109 attacks during September and since the beginning of the year it has covered 3.55% of the terror attacks which have taken place.


Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – August 2016

Reviewing the BBC News website’s coverage of terror in Israel: October 2015 to March 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – December 2015 and Q4 summary

A story the BBC hasn’t told

Throughout the past year’s surge in terrorism the first-aiders and paramedics of Magen David Adom (Israel’s emergency services) have of course been among the first on the scene at all the hundreds of attacks.

The story of those ethnically and religiously diverse first responders – many of whom are volunteers – providing essential care to an equally diverse population plagued by daily terrorism is one which one might have thought would have interested foreign journalists based in the region but has not been told by the BBC. 

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – August 2016

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during August 2016 shows that throughout the month a total of 93 incidents took place: 77 in Judea & Samaria, 13 in Jerusalem and three incidents originating from the Gaza Strip.

The agency recorded 73 attacks with petrol bombs, 13 attacks using explosive devices, one rock throwing attack and three stabbing attacks in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem. One missiles attack and two shooting attacks originated in the Gaza Strip.

Seven people (one civilian and six members of the security forces) were wounded during August.

For the first time since the beginning of 2016, the BBC News website reported – albeit belatedly – the missile fire from the Gaza Strip on August 21st but the two shooting incidents were not covered.

None of the attacks which took place in Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria during August received coverage on the BBC News website – including the stabbing of a civilian in Jerusalem on August 11th, the stabbing of a soldier at the Shaked checkpoint on August 14th or the stabbing of a soldier near Yizhar on August 24th.  

In conclusion, the BBC News website reported 1.08% of the attacks during August and since the beginning of the year it has covered 3.65% of the terror attacks which have taken place.


Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – July 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – June 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – May 2016

Reviewing the BBC News website’s coverage of terror in Israel: October 2015 to March 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – December 2015 and Q4 summary

BBC’s Knell relegates impartiality to the bench in campaigning football report

On October 13th a report by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell appeared in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Fifa urged to give red card to Israeli settlement clubs“.knell-fifa-art

Knell opens her piece with an account of some pre-planned agitprop which took place on the eve of Yom Kippur.

“A dozen Palestinian boys dressed in football kit and carrying balls, march towards a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli police and soldiers come to block the way as they approach the gates of Maale Adumim, where some 40,000 Israelis live, to the east of Jerusalem.

Surrounded by journalists, protest organiser, Fadi Quran, tells a senior officer that the children want to play a game in the local football stadium.

“You know exactly why they can’t come in,” says the officer.

“Is it because they’re Palestinian?” Mr Quran asks.

“No, no, because you need a permit,” the officer replies.

“Well, people in the world are watching and I think it’s important to know you have segregation,” says Mr Quran.”

Were it not for reports like this one from a member of the pre-conscripted press pack, “people in the world” would of course know nothing about the exploitation of a dozen boys for a campaign which has nothing to do with sport and everything to do with the political campaign of delegitimisation of Israel.

But despite the BBC’s decision to use its world-wide reach to put wind in the sails of this particular political campaign, its editorial standards concerning accuracy and impartiality should at least ensure that audiences would be told the whole story. That, however, is not the case in Knell’s report.

The ‘star’ of Knell’s account of the event is the man she tepidly describes as “protest organiser” Fadi Quran. BBC audiences receive no information concerning Quran’s affiliations and are not told, for example, which organisation – if any – he represents, who funded the boys’ transport to Ma’ale Adumim or who paid for the identical T-shirts they and Quran are seen wearing in the photographs which accompany the article.avaaz-logo

A closer look at those T-shirts and the accompanying placards shows that they bear the Avaaz logo and that would come as no surprise had BBC audiences been informed that American citizen Fadi Quran is a “senior campaigner” for Avaaz. A former employee of Al Haq, Quran is also a “policy member” at Al Shabaka and a “Popular Struggle community organizer”.

Obviously that information is critical to audience understanding of the wider story behind the agitprop she describes, but Yolande Knell refrains from providing it to her audience. She goes on to ostensibly provide readers with the background to that “small protest” but similarly fails to inform them that the meeting to which she refers is the fruit of a long-standing Palestinian campaign to use FIFA to delegitimise Israel.

“The small protest is soon over but it has symbolic significance ahead of this week’s meeting of the council of world football’s governing body, Fifa, in Switzerland.

It is due to discuss whether teams from settlements, including Maale Adumim, should be barred from the Israeli Football Association (IFA).”

Knell’s reporting once again falls short of editorial standards of impartiality when she presents a one-sided portrayal of ‘settlements’ while failing to inform readers that all those communities are located in Area C which – according to the Oslo Accords, to which the Palestinians were willing signatories – is to have its final status determined through negotiations.

“Settlements are built on land captured and occupied by Israel in 1967, which the Palestinians want for a future, independent state. The international community sees them as “illegal” and “an obstacle to peace”, but Israel strongly disagrees.”

As readers are no doubt aware, the BBC’s editorial guidelines on impartiality require clarification of the “particular viewpoint” of outside contributors but Knell makes do with the inadequate term “advocacy group” when describing the political NGO Human Rights Watch which has long been involved in lawfare campaigns against Israel.

“The advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) suggests the IFA should be made to move all Fifa-sanctioned matches inside the internationally-recognised boundaries of Israel.

“By holding games on stolen land, Fifa is tarnishing the beautiful game of football,” says Sari Bashi, HRW’s country director for Israel and Palestine.

report by the group notes that some settlement playing fields are built on privately-owned Palestinian land, and that West Bank Palestinians, apart from labourers with permits, are not allowed to enter settlements and use their services.”

The HRW report to which Knell provides readers with a link was already given context-free and partial promotion on the BBC World Service last month.  Significantly, the HRW country director quoted by Knell has also found it appropriate to give an interview on the same topic to the BDS campaign’s South Africa branch.

Knell goes on to promote an old but unsupported claim:

“To underscore the inequalities, the Palestinian boys leaving the demonstration at Maale Adumim continue to chant: “Infantino, let us play.”

Some come from nearby Bedouin communities, which have lost access to their land due to settlement expansion, and have pending demolition orders against their homes.” [emphasis added]

As has previously been documented here, the Jahalin tribe’s claims of ownership of the said land have been examined – and rejected – in courts of law.

Knell similarly amplifies a specific political narrative when she promotes – as fact – the notion of “Israeli restrictions” on Palestinian footballers without any mention of the very relevant context of the links of some of those players to terrorist organisations.

“…a monitoring committee was set up, headed by the Fifa official Tokyo Sexwale, a South African politician and former anti-apartheid activist.

It was asked to address Israeli restrictions on the movement of Palestinian players and visiting teams, alleged racism and discrimination, and the clubs based in settlements, all of which play in Israel’s lower leagues.”football-terrorist

And of course Knell’s portrayal of the topic of Palestinian football does not extend to telling her audiences that one team saw fit to ‘honour’ a terrorist who murdered two Israelis in Jerusalem only this week.

BBC audiences are of course no strangers to Yolande Knell’s signature blend of journalism and activism and this latest report provides yet another example of her serial amplification of political narratives and campaigns in the guise of ‘news’. And yet, the BBC remains silent on the issue of Knell’s repeated compromise of its supposed editorial standards of impartiality.

Related Articles:

Presenting the “progressive” (Guardian approved) group, Avaaz – astroturfing for Hamas  UK Media Watch

BBC WS news bulletins amplify HRW delegitimisation campaign

BBC’s Yolande Knell ditches any semblance of impartiality

BBC headlines for same story differ according to target audiences

While failing to accurately describe it as terrorism, the BBC News website’s English language report on the attack in Jerusalem on October 9th did make it clear to audiences that the perpetrator was a “Palestinian gunman” in both the headline and the opening paragraph.


In contrast, the headline selected for the BBC’s Arabic language report on the same incident failed to provide visitors to the BBC Arabic website with any information concerning the identity of the attacker. 

The headline reads “Two Israelis killed and 6 wounded in shooting in Jerusalem”. The report’s opening paragraph reads:

“The Israeli police said that two Israelis were killed and six others injured as a result of shooting near the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.”


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Why is BBC Arabic feeding its audiences politicised terminology?

Major omissions in BBC News report on Jerusalem terror attack

On the morning of October 9th a terror attack in which two people were killed and five others were wounded took place in Jerusalem.

“The attack began as the assailant drove by police headquarters on Haim Bar-Lev Street, a main artery also served by the city’s light rail, and opened fire at a group of people, hitting one woman, police said.

He sped off toward Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau Street and shot a woman who was in her car, critically wounding her.

He continued toward the Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Police officers on motorcycles from the city’s Special Patrol Unit saw the shooting and gave chase, police said.

The assailant then opened fire at the officers, who shot and “neutralized him,” police said.

During the shootout, one officer was critically wounded, while a second was lightly to moderately injured, police said.”

Some four hours after the incident took place the names of the two people killed in the attack – Levana Malihi and First Sgt Yosef Kirma – were released.

The BBC News website’s first report on the incident appeared on the Middle East page some three hours after the attack took place and following the announcement of the deaths of two of the wounded.



Some three hours after that – and around two hours after the names of those killed were released for publication – the article was amended.


Notably, the updated report omitted much of the relevant information which was already available at the time of its publication.

1) Once again, the victims were not identified or personalised.

2) The second shooting of the woman in her car was omitted.

3) The report stated that “[t]he police said the attacker was a Palestinian from East Jerusalem” but readers were not informed that the terrorist – from Silwan – held an Israeli identification card or of his apparent links to a banned Islamist group as reported by Ha’aretz and others.

“The assailant behind Sunday’s Jerusalem shooting attack that left two dead was set to begin a four-month prison sentence for assaulting a police officer in Jerusalem’s Old City, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported on Sunday.

According to Palestinian sources, the assailant – a 39-year-old resident of East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood whose identity remains under gag order – was linked to the Mourabitoun, an outlawed Islamist group active at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Its members demonstrate on Temple Mount, known in Arabic as Haram al-Sharif, whenever Jews visit there.”

4) BBC audiences were not informed that Hamas claimed the terrorist as one of its members and – along with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – praised the attack. Neither were they told of the celebrations seen on the streets of Gaza and elsewhere after the attack. Similarly, BBC audiences learned nothing of the Fatah Jerusalem branch’s call for a general strike after the incident or of the glorification of the terrorist on Fatah’s social media accounts.  The BBC’s report did however continue the policy of amplifying PLO messaging on the topic of terrorism against Israelis.

“Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”

5) In line with BBC editorial policy, the words ‘terror’, ‘terrorism’ or ‘terrorist’ do not appear anywhere in the BBC’s coverage of an attack in which a 60 year-old grandmother of six was gunned down in broad daylight at a city tram stop. Significantly, the morning after this report appeared the BBC did find it appropriate to use such terminology when reporting on an attack which did not take place – in Germany.


The following day – October 10th further changes were made to the article. Over twenty-six hours after the incident had taken place the BBC noted the names of the victims and reported that Hamas had praised the attack and identified the terrorist as one of its members but the article’s additional omissions remained.


It is of course highly unlikely that members of the BBC’s audience who had read the report the previous day would have revisited it twenty or more hours later on the off-chance that it might have been updated. 

The BBC’s coverage of this incident clearly fails to meet the remit of providing audiences with the full range of available information necessary for their understanding of both the specific story and its broader context. It does, however, provide yet another example of the double standards and lack of consistency at play in BBC reporting on terrorism.  




BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – July 2016

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during July 2016 shows that throughout the month a total of 101 incidents took place: 77 in Judea & Samaria, 23 in Jerusalem and one incident originating from the Gaza Strip.

The agency recorded 73 attacks with petrol bombs, 22 of which occurred in Jerusalem. Six shooting attacks, 19 attacks using explosive devices, one vehicular attack and one stabbing attack took place in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem. Two missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip in one attack.

One Israeli civilian – Rabbi Michael Mark – was murdered in Palestinian terror attacks during July. Seven people (four civilians and three members of the security forces) were wounded.

The shooting attack near Otniel on July 1st in which Rabbi Mark was murdered and three members of his family wounded did receive coverage, together with an earlier attempted stabbing attack in Hebron. The missile attack from the Gaza Strip later the same day was not reported on the BBC News website.

Among the other attacks which did not receive coverage on the BBC News website were an attempted stabbing attack near Ariel and a stoning attack on Route 60 on July 5th, a vehicular attack near Neve Daniel on July 6th, a shooting attack near Metzad in which a civilian was wounded on July 9th, a thwarted bomb attack on the Jerusalem light rail system on July 17th, a stabbing attack on Route 60 on July 18th and an attempted stabbing at Hawara on July 31st.

In conclusion, the BBC reported one fatal terror attack and one attempted attack throughout the month of July.

In comparison with its record during 2015, we see an improvement in BBC coverage of fatal terror attacks in Israel during the first seven months of 2016 with all those attacks having been reported. Overall, the BBC News website reported 3.9% of the terror attacks which took place between January and July 2016 inclusive and its record of reporting the missile attacks launched from the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the year stood at 0% at the end of July 2016.


Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – June 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – May 2016

Reviewing the BBC News website’s coverage of terror in Israel: October 2015 to March 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – December 2015 and Q4 summary

BBC continues to ignore Hizballah terror activity in Israel

On October 6th indictments were filed against six residents of the village of Ghajar in northern Israel for terrorism related offences.



“The ringleader of the cell was named as Diab Kahmouz, a resident of Ghajar, whose father — an alleged drug dealer — fled to Lebanon in 2006 after being indicted for his aforementioned activities and is believed to have made the connection between his son and Hezbollah, according to the indictment. […]

According to investigators, Diab Kahmouz made contact with Hezbollah operatives through his father in late 2015. The terror group instructed him to carry out an attack in Haifa, though he decided instead to bomb a bus stop at a junction near the northern Arab city of Tur’an, where soldiers tend to gather on Sunday mornings en route to their army bases.

The cell planned to carry out the attack with explosive devices that had been smuggled across the border in May, but were unable to locate the bag holding the bombs after Diab hid it in a grove near Metulla in northern Israel. On July 30, an Israeli farmer found the explosives in a field and handed them over to police, who determined that the bombs had been manufactured in Lebanon, a police spokesperson said Thursday.”

This is of course not the first time this year that Hizballah’s attempts to set up cells intended to carry out terror attacks against Israelis have been thwarted by the Israeli security services. A similar story came to light in February of this year and two additional cells were discovered in August. None of those stories were covered by the BBC’s correspondents in Jerusalem.

While refraining from providing audiences with any serious coverage of the issue of efforts by established terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hizballah to conscript Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, the BBC continues to frame terrorism against Israelis as the spontaneous product of “frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation” – in a manner eerily similar to the dictates of the PLO’s guidance for foreign journalists.  

That narrative-dictated framing of course contributes to the BBC’s failure to meet its obligation to enhance audiences’ “awareness and understanding of international issues”.  

Related Articles:

The news the BBC has to omit in order to keep up its narrative

Hizballah terror activity against Israelis again ignored by BBC News