BBC still prevaricating on purpose of Hamas tunnels

On the morning of April 15th the IDF announced the destruction of yet another cross-border tunnel originating in the Gaza Strip.

“A military spokesman said the tunnel was dug by the Hamas terrorist group and was connected to a “kilometers-long” network of other passages under the Gaza Strip.

The tunnel reached “tens of meters” into Israeli territory in the area of the northern Gaza Strip, close to the Israeli community of Nahal Oz, the army said. It was constructed after the 50-day 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas, according to the IDF. […]

Security forces had been monitoring this tunnel network, which had been under construction for years, the spokesman said. The decision was taken to destroy the tunnel once it crossed into Israeli territory, he added.

Palestinian tunnel diggers were working their way up to the surface to construct an exit within Israeli territory when the army decided to act.”

Later the same day the BBC News website published a report titled “Israel destroys ‘longest and deepest’ Gaza tunnel” in which the underground structure constructed for the purpose of infiltration of Israeli territory in order to carry out terror attacks was described as having been dug by “militants”.

“The Israeli military has disabled a major tunnel dug by militants which reached into Israel from the Gaza Strip, officials say.”

The BBC avoided giving readers a clear and accurate description in its own words of the purpose of cross-border tunnels constructed by terror factions in the Gaza Strip:

“A military spokesman said it had been dug since the 2014 Gaza war, when Israel destroyed more than 30 tunnels which it said were meant for attacks.” [emphasis added]

Readers were not informed that during the summer 2014 conflict Hamas used cross border tunnels to infiltrate Israeli territory on four separate occasions in the space of twelve days. 

The BBC’s reporting on the topic of tunnels at the time included twenty-three seconds from Lyse Doucet and a sixty-six second ‘backgrounder’ which made copious use of the ‘Israel says’ formula.

“It [Israel] has stated the tunnels pose a threat of terrorist attacks against the Israeli population.”

Israel says tunnels like this are being used by militants to infiltrate its territory”. [emphasis added]

Just one July 2014 BBC News website report (from an outside contributor) gave audiences a clear view of the purpose of Hamas’ cross-border tunnels.

“After the failure of Hamas’ rocket forces to inflict significant damage on Israeli towns in November 2012, they decided to build a large offensive-tunnel capability that would enable them to infiltrate assault teams into Israeli villages within a few kilometres of the border or place large bombs underneath these villages.”

Since the summer 2014 conflict, what reporting there has been on the subject of efforts by Hamas and other terror groups to rebuild the network of cross-border tunnels has repeatedly avoided informing audiences of their purpose in the BBC’s own words.

In October 2017 the BBC’s report on a tunnel constructed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad amplified that terror group’s propaganda regarding its purpose. In April 2016 the BBC employed the ‘Israel says’ formula when describing the intended purpose of a Hamas tunnel discovered in the southern part of the border region. In December 2017 the same terminology was seen again.

“…Israel said it had blown up a tunnel from Gaza, which it says was being dug to enable militant attacks” [emphasis added]

Despite that prevailing editorial policy, in January of this year one BBC presenter’s comments during an interview with a senior Hamas official indicated that the corporation is actually well aware of the purpose of those tunnels.

“…you’re not prepared – are you? – to give up your weapons based control of the Gaza Strip and your continued determination to fire rockets into Israel and dig tunnels under your territory into Israeli territory in order to conduct terrorist operations inside Israel.” [emphasis added]

Towards the end of the report readers were told that:

“It was the fifth Gaza tunnel to be destroyed by the Israeli military in recent months, Col [sic] Conricus said.

Some of the tunnels have been built by Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad and others by Hamas, the Islamist group which controls Gaza.”

As was noted here last month when the BBC failed to report the discovery of another tunnel:

“…the BBC has ignored two of the four cross-border tunnels […] that have been destroyed during the past five months, barely mentioned a third and reported problematically on a fourth.”

Had it not ignored 50% of those stories, the BBC would have been able to inform its audiences that just one – rather than “some” – of the five cross border tunnels destroyed since late October 2017 was constructed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and that the other four belonged to Hamas.

Notably, this BBC report once again ignored the issue of Hamas’ diversion of construction materials and funds to the building of cross-border tunnels and as ever, BBC audiences heard nothing whatsoever about the Israeli civilians living adjacent to the border with the Gaza Strip who are under threat from such tunnels. 

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BBC News conceals part of a story on Hamas tunnels

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No BBC reporting on latest Hamas cross-border tunnel

Another Hamas cross-border tunnel ignored by the BBC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another Hamas cross-border tunnel ignored by the BBC

On March 18th the IDF announced that it had “thwarted an attempt by Hamas to renew an old terror tunnel directed towards the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Israel”. In addition – as reported by the Times of Israel – a separate tunnel that did not cross the border was also destroyed.

credit: IDF

“The Israeli military on Sunday announced that it destroyed two attack tunnels, one that entered Israeli territory and another inside the central Gaza Strip, the latest in a series of underground structures have been demolished by Israel in recent months.

The border-crossing tunnel destroyed early Sunday morning was located in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said. […]

According to Conricus, the cross-border passage destroyed Sunday was an “old tunnel” that was built before the 2014 Gaza war and partially destroyed during the conflict. He said the Hamas terrorist group was trying to “revive” the passage by connecting an intact portion that penetrated Israeli territory to a new tunnel.

The other target, which was destroyed by Israeli fighter jets around midnight on Saturday, was a “subterranean complex” in the central Gaza Strip, according to Conricus.”

The BBC did not cover the story of the discovery and destruction of this latest cross-border tunnel near the Kerem Shalom crossing. Readers may recall that in January the BBC likewise ignored a story concerning another tunnel near the same location.

On October 30th 2017 a tunnel belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was destroyed and while the BBC did report that story, its portrayal of the structure’s purpose was ambiguous. On December 10th 2017 the IDF destroyed a tunnel belonging to Hamas. The BBC did not produce any dedicated reporting on that story and the only mention of it came in half a sentence in an article on a different topic.

In other words, the BBC has ignored two of the four cross-border tunnels (one belonging to the PIJ and three to Hamas) that have been destroyed during the past five months, barely mentioned a third and reported problematically on a fourth.

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BBC WS facilitates UNRWA PR again – part two

As we saw in part one of this post, the February 19th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included an interview (from 30:06 here) with UNRWA’s commissioner-general Pierre Krahenbul.

Having failed to challenge Krahenbuhl’s unevidenced claim that an UNRWA education is “an investment in regional security”, presenter Tim Franks next provided him with the cue for dismissal of one of the prime criticisms of the UN agency.

Franks: “What do you say to the other criticism that is often levelled at UNRWA – particularly of your work inside Gaza where there’s a huge proportion of the refugees – and that is that – maybe inevitably, maybe willingly, you have allowed yourself to become too close to the authority that runs Gaza which is Hamas which is proscribed by an awful lot of countries – most of the West sees it as a terrorist organisation – and that the split between what UNRWA does and what Hamas does has become blurred?”

Krahenbuhl: “Working in conflict zones means that you operate in proximity to groups that are either governmental armed forces, that are non-state armed groups so that’s by definition the work. One of the things that you do also is to ensure the neutrality of your work by every means possible. And so just to take the example of Gaza, last year during repair works to two of our schools we discovered tunnels that had been built below those schools. Now we publicly condemned Hamas for those actions and that is a measure of the robustness with which we pursue our policies of neutrality. Now if anybody however can describe to me who would be the alternative provider of education to 270 thousand students in the Gaza Strip who go to UNRWA schools and who among other things are taught a human rights curriculum with focus on tolerance and co-existence, then I’m happy to be told what that alternative is, because there is none.”

As readers may recall, the BBC failed to report the story of those tunnels beneath UNRWA schools at the time. BBC audiences are also unaware of the case last year in which an UNRWA employee was elected to the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip because the BBC chose to ignore that story too. Listeners would therefore not be able to put Krahenbuhl’s flimsy claim that the statement his organisation issued on the topic of those tunnels is evidence of a ‘robust’ approach to ‘neutrality’ into its correct context and Franks made no effort whatsoever to question him further on the long-standing issue of UNRWA employees with links to terror organisations or support for terrorism and promotion of antisemitism on social media by UNRWA staff.

Franks closed the interview by encouraging Krahenbuhl to give “a message for those listening in Washington”.

Franks: “You say that you’re turning to other donors to try and make up what might be a pretty big shortfall in funding as a result of this change in US policy. If you had a message for those listening in Washington about what this dramatic cut in funding would mean, what would it be?”

Krahenbuhl: “The idea that people have to have in mind is to think about what would it be for one’s own family if we faced a situation of conflict where we’re worried about our future and suddenly the key provider of education, services, is no longer able to deliver that and, you know, yet another avenue or horizon is shut. People have to think about in these terms. When you are in the Middle East today, one of the worst things for the Palestinians – but that affects everybody in the region – is that there is no political horizon, there is no personal horizon. There is no freedom of movement, no jobs to be found. We have some of the most, you know, extraordinarily courageous students probably on the planet. I handed over a certificate to a 15 year-old student in Gaza two years ago who had survived an air strike on her home, had spent seven months in a coma. When she woke up she was told by the doctor that her mother and one of her brothers was killed in the strike and yet she was one of the highest performing students in our school. And she has an outlook on life. She wants to be recognised for her skills, for her abilities. She doesn’t want to be seen by the world as only a refugee or a victim. And I think what we need in this region is to rediscover the humanity in people. You know I can…if I believed that polarisation would lead to a solution or to an improvement, I would embrace polarisation but I don’t see that. I see humanity being rediscovered in everybody as being the way forward.”

Franks: “Pierre Krahenbuhl: the boss of UNRWA, the UN agency which supports millions of Palestinian refugees.”

Obviously this interview was not intended to provide BBC audiences with information which would enhance their understanding of the criticism of UNRWA’s mission and performance. Rather, the BBC chose – not for the first time – to provide the UN agency’s head with a friendly platform from which to promote his PR campaign in a near monologue that went unchallenged in any serious manner.  

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No BBC reporting on latest Hamas cross-border tunnel

On January 14th the IDF announced the destruction of yet another cross-border tunnel running from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Unusually however, this latest tunnel – originating in the southern Gaza Strip – also reached Egyptian territory.

“The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday said it had destroyed a border-crossing Hamas attack tunnel, the third in recent months, that penetrated hundreds of meters into both Israeli and Egyptian territory from the Gaza Strip, in an airstrike in southern Gaza on Saturday night. […]

According to [IDF spokesperson Lt-Col] Conricus, the tunnel was dug in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, some 900 meters from Israel, and extended 180 meters into Israeli territory.

On the other end, it also extended hundreds of meters into Egypt, which could have allowed fighters in Gaza to attack Israeli positions from the Sinai Peninsula, he said.

Asked if the tunnel could have functioned as both a smuggling and attack tunnel, the army spokesperson responded, “It could have, but we deal with the infrastructure.””

Significantly, the tunnel ran under the Kerem Shalom crossing.

“The tunnel, which the army said belonged to the Hamas terror group that controls the Gaza Strip, ran underneath the Kerem Shalom Gaza crossing, as well as below major gas and diesel pipelines, spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told reporters Sunday. […]

The Kerem Shalom Crossing routinely sees hundreds of trucks transporting medicine, food and drink into the Gaza Strip each day and acts as a major source of humanitarian aid to the beleaguered coastal enclave, which is subject to a blockade by both Israel and Egypt. Israel maintains the blockade to prevent terror group Hamas from importing weaponry. […]

“We know it’s a terror tunnel because it passes under different strategic assets,” Conricus said, referring to its proximity to the fuel pipelines into Gaza, the Kerem Shalom Crossing and a military installation nearby.

According to IDF figures, in 2017, over half a million tons of food entered the Strip through Kerem Shalom, along with 3.3 million tons of construction equipment and 12,000 tons of agricultural equipment.”

Despite both the threat to humanitarian supplies and fuel for civilians in the Gaza Strip and the significance of the fact that the tunnel reached Egyptian territory, the BBC chose not to report the story at all.

This is the third cross-border tunnel that the IDF has destroyed in the past two and a half months. On October 30th 2017 a tunnel belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was destroyed and while the BBC reported that story, its portrayal of the structure’s purpose was ambiguous. On December 10th 2017 the IDF destroyed a tunnel belonging to Hamas. The BBC did not produce any dedicated reporting on that story and the only mention of it came in half a sentence in an article on a different topic.

Now we see that the BBC – which has long under-reported and downplayed the subject of tunnels constructed by Hamas and other terror organisations – has chosen to completely ignore the story of Hamas’ construction of a structure breaching the sovereign territory of two neighbouring countries.

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Hamas ‘Hardtalk’ interview rebuts BBC messaging, perpetuates inaccuracies – part one

On January 8th the BBC programme ‘Hardtalk‘ aired (not for the first time) a televised interview with Hamas’ Mahmoud Zahar on the BBC World News channel and on the BBC News channel.  An audio version of the same interview was also broadcast on BBC World Service radio and a clip from the interview was promoted separately.

“Stephen Sackur speaks to Mahmoud al-Zahar, co-founder of the Islamist movement Hamas. Donald Trump broke with long established diplomatic convention by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. His recent tweets on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been music to the ears of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. So what do the Palestinians do now? Hamas controls Gaza and has been at loggerheads with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank for more than a decade. Are the Palestinians staring defeat in the face?”

One noteworthy aspect of that programme was Stephen Sackur’s presentation of terrorism as a matter of conflicting narratives.

[emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Sackur: “My guest today was one of the co-founders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. Mahmoud Zahar became used to the rigours of violent conflict with Israel. He was imprisoned, deported, his home was targeted, family members – including his son killed. But he and his Hamas colleagues remained committed to an armed struggle whose ultimate objective they characterise as the liberation of all the territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. To Israel, Hamas is a terrorist organisation and Mr Zahar is a terrorist with blood on his hands. To Palestinians he is one player in a prolonged internecine struggle between Fatah – the organisation led for so long by Yasser Arafat – and Hamas.”

And [from 04:56 in the audio version]:

Sackur: “The truth is, since that decision taken by Trump in December on Jerusalem we’ve seen – what? – a dozen or so rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel. The Israelis have responded by targeting weapons dumps. The truth is everything that you talk about in terms of violent military resistance plays into Israel’s hands. It allows them to characterise you yet again as terrorists out to kill Israeli citizens.”

Sackur’s presentation of course would not have surprised anyone familiar with the BBC’s long history of promoting the ‘one man’s terrorist’ narrative that fails to distinguish between means and ends and results in inconsistent BBC reporting on terrorism in differing locations.

Another notable point was Sackur’s adoption of Hamas’ own terminology and his breach [from 20:09] of the BBC Academy’s “journalists’ guide to facts and terminology” which, as noted here recently on two occasions, instructs the corporation’s staff not to use the term Palestine except in very specific circumstances.

Sackur: “Is the resistance in Palestine now in the hands of ordinary people – young people particularly – not with veteran leaders like you?”

Viewers and listeners may have noticed that during this interview some of the messaging they have previously received from the BBC was contradicted.

For example, the BBC’s long-standing and repeated claim that the Gaza Strip is occupied even though Israel withdrew from the territory over twelve years ago was contradicted by Zahar [from 04:00].

Zahar: “But lastly, lastly by our method of self-resistance, self-defence against the occupation in Gaza we succeed[ed] to eliminate the occupation in Gaza.”

In September of last year the BBC began reporting on Hamas-Fatah ‘reconciliation’ and produced a considerable amount of content promoting that topic. However, Zahar dismissed the claim of ‘reconciliation’ proposed by Sackur [from 09:02].

Sackur: “I mean you in Hamas, as of October 2017 – just a few months ago – are committed to a reconciliation agreement with Fatah which is supposed to lead to a reunification of the administration in Gaza and supposed to see Fatah and PA – Palestinian Authority – forces take security control in Gaza. Are you suggesting to me that that deal is now completely off?”

Zahar: “First of all I’d like to address that it’s not a reconciliation. This is a misleading name actually. We in Cairo on 2011 agreed to have a deal and agreement in Cairo. This agreement includes the most important point is to run election for the ministerial level, for the legislative council and for the national council level. And we are dead sure that we are going to win this election. At that time we are going to change the attitude of this authority from cooperating with Israel to the degree as we did with the Israeli in 2005. For this reason we are…”

Sackur [interrupts] “We don’t have time for a long history lesson but the bottom line is just a few months ago you were prepared to talk about a deal with Fatah and Fatah insisted part of that deal would be that you would accept Palestinian Authority security control in Gaza and Hamas would ultimately have to give up its weapons. Are you prepared, in Hamas, as part of a national deal, to give up your weapons?”

Zahar: “It’s not a national deal. It’s between Fatah and other national factions but the Palestinian people in the refugee camps, more than six million people outside, they’ve not shared it. I’m speaking about what is the substantial core of this deal you describe in the last few months. It was implementation of the agreement in Cairo 2011. It’s not a reconciliation.”

Another interesting point arising from this interviewee is the discovery that the BBC does know the purpose of the cross-border tunnels dug by Hamas and other terror organisations – despite its ambiguous description of their purpose in the past.

Sackur: [11:43] “…you’re not prepared – are you? – to give up your weapons based control of the Gaza Strip and your continued determination to fire rockets into Israel and dig tunnels under your territory into Israeli territory in order to conduct terrorist operations inside Israel.”

Last year the BBC amply covered the story of the Hamas policy document published in May with some reports inaccurately describing it as a ‘new’ charter signalling a different approach from the terror group and Yolande Knell, for example, telling BBC audiences that “it really drops its long-standing call for an outright destruction of Israel”. However, when Sackur brought up that topic, Zahar put paid to that claim from Knell.

Sackur [from 18:27] “…in May of 2017 your movement came out with a new policy document. For the first time they…you in Hamas said that you would accept a solution which gave the Palestinians a state on the ’67 lines and it looked as though – with a new leader Mr Haniyah in place – it looked as though Hamas was beginning to search for a way to play a role in the peace process; to become – if I may say so – more moderate. Have you walked away from that now? Are you not interested in being more moderate anymore?”

Zahar: “I’m sorry to understand from you because we are speaking about establishment of an independent state in the area for occupied ’67 but this is the continuation of our argument. But we are not going to denounce a square meter of our land which is Palestine.”

Throughout the interview Zahar was permitted to promote inaccurate claims unchallenged by Sackur, as we will see in part two of this post.

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BBC coverage of new Hamas document – part two: World Service radio

 

 

Jerusalem terror attack gets 21 words of BBC coverage

On December 10th the IDF announced that it had destroyed a cross-border attack tunnel constructed by Hamas.

“The Israel Defense Forces this weekend destroyed an attack tunnel coming from the southern Gaza Strip that entered Israeli territory, the army announced on Sunday.

photo credit:IDF

The military said the kilometer-long tunnel was constructed by the Hamas terrorist group. It began in the Gazan city of Khan Younis and extended “hundreds of meters” inside Israeli territory. Israel demolished another cross-border tunnel, which was being dug by the Islamic Jihad terror group, six weeks ago.

IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus would not specify where exactly the newly destroyed was located in Israel, but said it ended in open farmland, approximately one kilometer (0.6 miles) from the nearest Israeli community. […]

He said the tunnel appeared to be a “very substantial” one for Hamas, “based on the level of detail.””

The BBC News website did not produce any stand-alone reporting on that story and the only mention of the IDF’s announcement came in twenty words in half a sentence in yet another article about the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital that was published on the website’s Middle East page on December 10th under the headline “Netanyahu: Palestinians must face reality over Jerusalem“.

Notably, despite the IDF having identified the tunnel as belonging to Hamas, the BBC did not report that information to its audiences and was ‘unable’ to describe the tunnel’s purpose in its own words.

“…Israel said it had blown up a tunnel from Gaza, which it says was being dug to enable militant attacks”

Obviously Israeli officials did not use the phrase “militant attacks” and so for the third time this month we see the BBC inaccurately paraphrasing statements made by Israelis despite the fact that the BBC’s guidance on ‘Language when Reporting Terrorism’ states:

“…we don’t change the word “terrorist” when quoting other people…” 

Later on the same day a terror attack took place at the main bus station in Jerusalem.

“A Palestinian terrorist stabbed a security guard in the chest,  seriously wounding him, at the entrance to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station on Sunday, before being tackled by police and a passerby, officials said,

Graphic video footage from the scene showed the terrorist slowly handing his belongings to the security guard, who was checking travelers at the door to the station, before suddenly taking out a knife and plunging it into the guard’s chest. […]

The victim, 46, was taken to the capital’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment where doctors were battling to stabilize his condition and save his life, said Dr. Ofer Merrin, the head of trauma center.

“The knife, unfortunately, hit his heart. His condition has stabilized, but I cannot say that there’s not threat to his life because, like I said, he’s in serious condition,” the doctor said, adding that he was unconscious and connected to a respirator.”

The only reporting of that attack on the BBC News website came in the form of twenty-one words in the same article.

“In Jerusalem itself, a Palestinian was arrested after stabbing and seriously wounding an Israeli security guard at the central bus station.”

Unsurprisingly given the BBC’s record, audiences were not informed that the incident was a terror attack.

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BBC inaccurately paraphrases Israeli officials

An article published on the BBC News website on December 1st related to two incidents that had taken place the previous day.

At around 9:30 p.m. on November 30th a young man was stabbed to death at a bus stop in the town of Arad. The victim was later identified as IDF soldier Sgt Ron Yitzhak Kukia from Tel Aviv, aged 19, and the incident – which is still under investigation – is being treated as a terror attack.  

Over twelve hours after the incident occurred the BBC News website produced a report titled “Israeli soldier stabbed to death in ‘terror attack’” in which, for reasons unknown, it decided to anglicise his middle name.

“A soldier has been stabbed to death in southern Israel in what police say was a suspected terror attack.

Sgt Ron Isaac Kukia, 19, was killed at a bus stop in the city of Arad on Thursday night. Security forces are searching for at least one attacker.”

Readers also found statements that have been recycled using different numbers on numerous occasions throughout the last two years. Although the information is readily available, the BBC did not cite the actual number of Israelis murdered in terror attacks since September 2015 – fifty-four – but made do with an approximation.

“Some 50 Israelis and five foreign nationals have been killed since late 2015 in a series of gun, knife, and car-ramming attacks, predominantly by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs.

Around 300 Palestinians have also been killed in that period. Most were assailants, Israel says, while others were killed in clashes with troops.”

Notably, the BBC continues to use the “Israel says” formula in that statement and – despite having had over two years to do so – has apparently not bothered to independently confirm how many of the Palestinians killed during that time were in the process of carrying out terror attacks.

The second incident mentioned in the report was portrayed in a manner that suggested some sort of connection between the two events even though no such linkage has been established.

“Israel also struck the Gaza Strip in retaliation for mortar fire. […]

Thursday night’s attack [in Arad] came hours after Israeli tank-fire and air strikes struck militant positions inside the Gaza Strip in response to mortar fire across the border into Israel.

At least 10 mortars landed, without causing casualties. Three Palestinians were lightly hurt by an air strike south of Gaza City, Palestinian sources in Gaza said.

Israel said it targeted sites belonging to the militant Islamist movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad. An Israeli military spokesman indicated that Islamic Jihad was suspected of being behind the mortar fire, though no group has said it was responsible.

The mortar attacks came one month after 12 Islamic Jihad militants were killed when the Israeli military destroyed a tunnel they had dug under the border into Israel.

Islamic Jihad threatened at the time to take revenge for the deaths.”

In fact twelve mortars were fired on the afternoon of November 30th at an IDF post near the border with the north-eastern Gaza Strip. Interestingly, readers were not informed that – as reported in the Israeli media – army spokespersons indicated that the IDF knew – rather than “suspected” – that the PIJ carried out the mortar attacks.

“The army spokesperson said the attack was carried out by the Islamic Jihad terror group. “We know who conducted the attack, we even know them by name,” Conricus said.”

Predictably, the BBC’s report did not provide readers with any information concerning the effects of the PIJ attacks on civilians in the area.

“Security officials issued instructions to cease train operations between Ashkelon and Sderot, and farmers were ordered to vacate fields located around the Gaza region. In addition, all work on the Gaza border fence was suspended and IDF forces were ordered to leave the area.

One of the farmers evacuated from the area recounted the fire exchange.

“Five workers were working in the orchard in a plantation near the border. Suddenly there was a series of explosions, one after the other. We dropped to the ground and put our hands on our head. We thought we were being shot at,” he recalled.

“The explosions lasted about five minutes. The moment they ended we picked up our tools and bolted. We were really scared. It was all very jolting.””

The BBC’s claim that “Israel said it targeted sites belonging to the militant Islamist movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad” is obviously inaccurate. In fact the IDF announced that it had targeted “six terrorist military positions in Gaza” and “military posts belonging to terror organisations”.

As we see, the corporation not only refrains itself from using accurate terminology to describe the terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and their operatives, but even puts inaccurate wording into the mouths of Israeli officials.

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No BBC News follow-up to PIJ tunnel story

On October 30th the BBC News website reported the story of the controlled detonation by Israel of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad tunnel running from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Since then, however, audiences have seen no follow-up reporting on what is still an ongoing story – despite BBC journalists in the region being aware of developments.

On November 5th Israel announced that it had found the bodies of five PIJ operatives inside the tunnel.  

“Israel has recovered the bodies of five Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists that were buried when the army destroyed a Gazan attack tunnel that crossed into Israeli territory last week, the IDF announced on Sunday. […]

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad responded to the announcement, saying that Israel “will not be able to bargain over our fighters.”

“Our battle is open and shall not end. The freedom tunnel is not the only tunnel owned by the Islamic Jihad. It has many tunnels and many options,” warned  Ahmad al-Mudalal, a senior member of the group. […]

The five recovered by Israel were apparently diggers who had been working inside the tunnel at the time of the strike. They were found inside Israeli territory, on the Israeli side of the security fence, the army said.”

On November 11th Israel put out a warning to the PIJ.

“In an Arabic video message, an Israeli general on Saturday publicly warned the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to abandon plans to carry out a retaliatory attack in response to Israel destroying the terrorist group’s attack tunnel that crossed from Gaza into Israel last month.

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who runs the Defense Ministry’s chief liaison office with the Palestinians, recorded a YouTube video in which he addressed the terror group’s leaders in Syria, warning that Israel knew of their plans and was prepared to respond to them.

“We are aware of the plot that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is planning against Israel,” Mordechai said in Arabic. “

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad responded by describing the video warning as “threats” and “a declaration of war”, saying it had the “right to respond to the crime of aggression on the resistance tunnel”.

A BBC producer working in Israel also described the Israeli warning as a ‘threat’ on Twitter.

As the same BBC employee is aware, on November 13th the IDF arrested a senior PIJ operative in a village near Jenin.

“The Shin Bet security service confirmed that Tariq Qa’adan was picked up by the Israel Defense Forces in Arrabeh, southwest of Jenin, in the northern West Bank.

Qa’adan serves as a senior officer in the Gaza-based terror group’s West Bank wing, the Shin Bet said.”

On November 14th it was announced that the Iron Dome missile defence system had been deployed in central Israel.

“An Iron Dome missile defense battery was deployed in the Dan region — made up of Tel Aviv and the surrounding suburbs — it was revealed on Tuesday, a day after the military said it had stationed several interceptors in central Israel to protect against a possible rocket attack.

The battery is one of several measures taken by the army to raise its alert level and response capabilities amid heightened tensions with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization since the army demolished the terrorist group’s border-crossing attack tunnel last month.

Also on Tuesday, the army closed off a number of tourist attractions near the Gaza border, out of concerns that the terrorist group may carry out a sniper attack on visitors.”

As has so often been the case in the past, should the situation escalate and Israel be forced to respond to an attack by the PIJ terror group, the BBC’s audiences will lack the background information necessary for understanding of the context to any such action.  

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad clarifies what the BBC did not

Palestinian Islamic Jihad clarifies what the BBC did not

As readers no doubt recall, in its October 30th report on an Israeli counter-terrorism operation against a cross-border tunnel running from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory the BBC News website failed to clarify the purpose of that tunnel to readers, putting the words terror tunnel in scare quotes.

“The Israeli military said the “terror tunnel” was still under construction when it was “neutralised”.”

The article went on to unquestioningly amplify the propaganda of the terror group that constructed the tunnel.

“An Islamic Jihad statement said the tunnels were “part of the policy of deterrence to defend the Palestinian people” and accused Israel of a “dangerous escalation”, according to AFP news agency.”

The day after that BBC report was published a Palestinian Islamic Jihad official clarified the tunnel’s purpose in an interview translated by PMW:

“A member of Islamic Jihad, Khaled Al-Batsh, explained [in Al-Dustour (Jordanian newspaper), Oct. 31, 2017] that the tunnel that Israel attacked “was intended for freeing prisoners from the Israeli occupation prisons.” Al-Batsh was implying that the purpose of the tunnel was to facilitate the entry of Islamic Jihad terrorists into Israel, to kidnap Israelis who would then be used as hostages to force Israel to release prisoners.”

Al Batsh also spoke at the funerals of some of the terrorists who died after entering the tunnel following its explosion.

“Senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) member Khaled al-Batsh alluded that the terrorist tunnel the IDF detonated on Monday on the Gaza border was intended for kidnapping Israeli civilians, who would then be exchanged for imprisoned PIJ terrorists.

“The freedom tunnel that was attacked yesterday by the enemy was meant for the release of our prisoners,” al-Batsh disclosed, adding that the PIJ are undeterred, and will have “another tunnel for the release of the prisoners” in the future. […]

“We will continue our battle out of determination,” he said. “We have the right—blood for blood; we will not give up our right to resist.” […]

“Our weapons will remain in our hands; we will not allow anyone to demilitarize us,” he concluded.”

It should of course be a cause of considerable concern to the BBC that a member of a terror group gives a clearer and more honest explanation of the cross-border tunnel’s purpose that a Western media organisation supposedly committed to providing “accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming of the highest editorial standards”.  

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BBC News report on Gaza tunnel equivocal about its purpose

On October 30th the IDF carried out a controlled explosion on a cross-border attack tunnel running from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.

“The military said the tunnel had been under surveillance for an extended period of time and was under active construction at the time of the demolition.

The tunnel, which the IDF described as a “grave and unacceptable violation of Israeli sovereignty,” started in the Gazan city of Khan Younis, crossing under the border and approaching the Israeli community of Kibbutz Kissufim, the army said.

“The tunnel was detonated from within Israel, adjacent to the security fence,” the military said in a statement.

IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the tunnel was approximately two kilometers away from the Israeli kibbutz. […]

The demolition was carried out near the fence separating Israel from Gaza.”

In the hours that followed it emerged that a number of operatives from the terror groups Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas had died.  

“At least seven men were killed and another 12 injured on Monday when the Israeli army blew up an attack tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said […]

“The explosion took place inside Israeli territory. The majority of the dead were activists that entered the tunnel after it was exploded and died in the Gaza Strip, and not as a result of the explosion,” said an IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee. […]

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said four of the dead were Islamic Jihad members, including two senior commanders, Arafat Abu Murshad, the Islamic Jihad’s central Gaza commander and his deputy Hassan Abu Hassanein. […]

Two Hamas members, Musbah Shabir, 30 and Mujahid Mohammed Marwan Algha, were also killed during the rescue operation, Hamas said.”

The BBC News website’s October 30th report on that story ran with a headline that gives readers the inaccurate impression that the tunnel’s destruction took place in the Gaza Strip: “Gaza: Palestinian militants killed as Israel hits tunnel“.

The original text of the article similarly failed to adequately clarify to BBC audiences that the controlled explosion took place inside Israeli territory.

“Seven Palestinian militants were killed and several others injured when Israel destroyed a tunnel running from Gaza into Israel, Palestinian officials say. […]

The Israeli military said the tunnel it destroyed on Monday ran from Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, into Israeli territory, about 2km (1.2 miles) from the town [sic] of Kissufim.”

The day after the article’s appearance the words “[t]he army said the destruction took place on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza” were added following complaints and a footnote appended to the report.

So perhaps (in addition to not knowing that Kissufim is a kibbutz rather than a “town”) the BBC was not initially aware of the fact that the operation took place inside Israel? A Tweet from a “BBC News senior producer in Israel” shows that is not the case and also casts light on the use of superfluous punctuation around the phrase terror tunnel in the report:

 “The Israeli military said the “terror tunnel” was still under construction when it was “neutralised”.”

Does the BBC really believe that there is room for doubt about the purpose of a tunnel infiltrating Israeli territory constructed by an Iranian backed terrorist organisation? Apparently it does because the article went on to unquestioningly amplify that terror group’s propaganda.

“An Islamic Jihad statement said the tunnels were “part of the policy of deterrence to defend the Palestinian people” and accused Israel of a “dangerous escalation”, according to AFP news agency.”

In addition, this report included a recycled paragraph on the topic of casualty figures during the summer 2014 conflict which the BBC attributes to “the UN”.

“The conflict left at least 2,251 Palestinians dead – including more than 1,462 civilians, according to the UN – and 11,231 injured. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed, and up to 1,600 injured.”

In fact – as has been shown here before – the casualty figures and debatable civilian/combatant casualty ratios that the BBC elects to repeatedly amplify were supplied by Hamas and NGOs involved in ‘lawfare’ campaigning against Israel, funnelled through a partisan UN agency and subsequently promoted in a controversial and biased UNHRC report.

Since the end of the 2014 conflict the BBC has consistently under-reported the story of cross-border attack tunnels constructed by Gaza based terror groups. Audiences have heard very little about the diversion of construction materials and funds for that purpose and nothing at all about the Israeli civilians living adjacent to the border with the Gaza Strip who are under threat from such tunnels. This latest report obviously contributes little to rectifying that.

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