BBC ignores another example of PA glorification of terrorism

Earlier this month the BBC’s new man in Jerusalem told World Service listeners that Israel “has long accused Palestinian officials of using sport to glorify terrorism”.

As was noted here at the time:

“Of course BBC audiences are consistently denied the information which would enable them to know whether “Palestinian officials” do indeed use sport to glorify terrorism and Bateman failed to inform listeners that just a day prior to his report, Rajoub’s Palestinian Football Association organised a tournament named after a terrorist responsible for the murders of 125 Israelis.”

Neither are BBC audiences informed about additional ways in which the Palestinian Authority and Fatah regularly glorify terrorism and promote incitement, such as naming schools, streets and squares after terrorists.

One terrorist frequently honored by the PA is Dalal Mughrabi who participated in the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre in which 38 people – including thirteen children – were murdered. Schools, summer camps, squares, community centres and sports tournaments have been named after Mughrabi, as PMW has documented.

It therefore did not come as much of a surprise when a women’s centre in a village under PA control was recently dedicated to Dalal Mughrabi but what is unusual – and hence newsworthy – is the reaction of one of the refurbished building’s funders.

Photo credit: PMW

“Norway’s foreign minister on Friday condemned the Palestinian Authority for naming a women’s center in the West Bank, funded in part by the Scandinavian country, after a female terrorist.

“The glorification of terrorist attacks is completely unacceptable, and I deplore this decision in the strongest possible terms. Norway will not allow itself to be associated with institutions that take the names of terrorists in this way. We will not accept the use of Norwegian aid funding for such purposes,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said in a statement.

Brende’s comments were made in reference to a new women’s center opened earlier this month in the West Bank town of Burqa. The center was named after Dalal Mughrabi, who took part in the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre. […]

Brende said that Norway had been unaware of the decision to name the center after Mughrabi. He demanded that the country’s name be removed from the center and that the funds it gave for construction be returned.”

In addition to that robust response from the Norwegian government, the UN also published a couple of statements concerning the unauthorised use of its UN Women logo on the building.

However, four days after it broke, none of the BBC’s locally based correspondents has yet covered this story.

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BBC silent on Saudi Arabia’s new UN commission seat

Those getting their news from the BBC will not be aware of the fact that Saudi Arabia has been elected to a four-year term on the UN’s women’s rights commission. As the Independent reported:

“The kingdom is now one of 45 countries sitting on a panel “promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women,” according to the UN.”

UN Watch notes that:

“Saudi Arabia was elected by a secret ballot last week of the U.N.’s 54-nation Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Usually ECOSOC rubber-stamps nominations arranged behind closed doors by regional groups, however this time the U.S. forced an election […]

Saudi Arabia was also recently re-elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council where it enjoys the right to vote on, influence and oversee numerous mechanisms, resolutions and initiatives affecting the rights of women worldwide…”

No coverage of that story appears under the BBC’s ‘United Nations’ tag or ‘Saudi Arabia’ tag or on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

That, perhaps, is somewhat less surprising when one remembers that just last year on International Women’s Day the BBC found it appropriate to ask its audiences “Are Saudi women really that oppressed”?

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BBC misleads on root cause of lack of equality for Saudi women

BBC News erases identity of authors of UN ‘apartheid’ report

h/t AM

On March 15th a UN body titled ‘United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia’ (ESCWA) – part of the United Nations Economic and Social Council – published a report claiming that Israel imposes an ‘apartheid regime’ on Palestinians.

“UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf said the report was the “first of its type” from a U.N. body that “clearly and frankly concludes that Israel is a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people”. […]

ESCWA comprises 18 Arab states in Western Asia and aims to support economic and social development in member states, according to its website. The report was prepared at the request of member states, Khalaf said.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York that the report was published without any prior consultation with the UN secretariat.

“The report as it stands does not reflect the views of the secretary-general (Antonio Guterres),” said Dujarric, adding that the report itself notes that it reflects the views of the authors.” [emphasis added]

The ESCWA member states that commissioned the report are Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, ‘Palestine’, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the UAE and Yemen. The report was written by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley and, given the records of both those authors, its conclusions were foregone.

In 2012 Virginia Tilley – a supporter of the ‘one-state solution’published a study titled “Beyond Occupation: Apartheid, Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”. Richard Falk – who in his former role as UN rapporteur was frequently quoted by the BBC – is infamous for his antisemitism, his promotion of conspiracy theories concerning the 9/11 and Boston marathon attacks, his support for Hamas and more.

Although the BBC did not cover the publication of the ESCWA report on March 15th, one BBC employee found it appropriate to retweet the Reuters report on the subject to his followers.

Two days after the report’s publication and following a request from the UN Secretary General to remove it from the ESCWA website, the body’s secretary-general resigned.

The BBC then published an article titled “UN’s Rima Khalaf quits over report accusing Israel of apartheid” on its website’s Middle East page.

“A UN official has resigned after saying the UN had pressured her to withdraw a report accusing Israel of apartheid over its treatment of Palestinians.

The report was published by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), led by Under Secretary General Rima Khalaf. […]

Speaking in the Lebanese capital Beirut, Ms Khalaf, a Jordanian, said she had submitted her resignation to Mr Guterres after he insisted on the report’s withdrawal.”

The article goes on to amplify a statement made by Khalaf:

“”We expected of course that Israel and its allies would put huge pressure on the secretary general of the UN so that he would disavow the report, and that they would ask him to withdraw it,” she was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.”

However, readers are not told of an obviously relevant statement made by the UN Secretary General’s spokesperson:

“The secretary-general cannot accept that an under-secretary-general or any other senior UN official that reports to him would authorize the publication under the UN name, under the UN logo, without consulting the competent departments and even himself.”

Neither are they told that Khalaf’s term of office was in any case due to come to an end.

“The spokesman said that Mr. Guterres had not asked Ms. Khalaf to resign, and that her term had been set to expire at the end of the month.”

The article describes ESCWA as follows:

“It [the report] was published on Wednesday by the ESCWA, which promotes economic and social development in 18 Arab countries, and is based in Beirut.”

At no point are readers informed which countries make up ESCWA or of the fact that all are members of the ‘Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’ which has a long history of anti-Israel campaigning at the UN.

At no point are BBC audiences informed of the identities of the authors of the report and the obviously relevant issue of their well-documented anti-Israel stances.

The article includes Israel’s reaction to the ESCWA report:

“Israel has condemned the report. “The attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie,” Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement.”

However, readers are not provided with background information concerning the employment of the ‘apartheid’ trope by anti-Israel campaigners to delegitimise the country and the BBC’s article refrains from telling audiences in its own words that accusations of ‘apartheid’ against Israel are baseless, while amplifying the report’s ‘findings’:

“She [Khalaf] had said it was the first to conclude Israel was a racist state. […]

The report itself said it had established on the “basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid”.”

The article then goes on to provide what is apparently intended to be seen as ‘back-up’ to those claims:

“In 2014, the then US Secretary of State, John Kerry, warned that Israel risked becoming “an apartheid state” if a two-state solution to its conflict with the Palestinians was not found soon.”

That link leads to a BBC article from April 2014 that, as noted here at the time, included ‘analysis’ from Paul Danahar which not only failed to explain to BBC audiences why the ‘apartheid’ trope is used and by whom, but suggested that there is a “debate” to be had on the issue.

The article closes with the BBC’s standard promotion of a partial narrative on ‘international law’:

“The settlements that Israel has built in the West Bank are home to nearly 500,000 people and are deemed to be illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.”

In order for readers to be able to understand this story properly, they need to be made aware of its subject matter’s background and context. While BBC audiences not infrequently find the ‘apartheid’ trope mainstreamed in BBC content, they have long been deprived of information which would help them comprehend its redundancy and the true aims of those who promote that tactical smear. This latest article merely perpetuates that deprivation.  

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The BBC and the ‘apartheid’ smear

No BBC reporting on suspension of allegedly Hamas linked UNRWA employee

As regular readers know, representatives of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) featured regularly in the content produced by the BBC during the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas as well as in previous and subsequent reports concerning the Gaza Strip.

UNRWA does not confine its activities to humanitarian work and frequently acts as a political campaigning group, with one focus of its efforts being the issue of the border restrictions imposed by Israel in order to curb Hamas terrorism.  Notably, UNRWA’s approach to that issue dovetails with Hamas’ standpoint, as seen in the terrorist organisation’s ceasefire demands made during the 2014 conflict.UNRWA WS tweet

The BBC has frequently used its various platforms to amplify UNRWA’s political campaigning  on that topic – examples can be seen hereherehere and here. UNRWA employees are also not infrequently given unchallenged airtime to promote their messaging on additional subjects – see examples here and here – and as we know, in 2014 UNRWA’s spokesman (and former BBC employee) Chris Gunness successfully pressured the BBC to get the content of an article about casualty figures in the Gaza Strip amended to be more to his political tastes.

It is hence all the more noteworthy that the BBC has to date ignored a recent UNRWA related story. 

On February 23rd the ITIC published a report concerning the election of the chairman of the Hamas-controlled UNRWA staff union to the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip.

“One of the newly-elected members is Dr. Suhail Ahmed Hassan al-Hindi, who holds a PhD from Cairo University (his thesis dealt with improving the conditions of Palestinians teachers under the Israeli “occupation”). Since 2012 he has been the chairman of the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas. […] In addition to his role as union chairman, he is also the principal of the Palestine Boys’ Elementary School, an UNRWA school for refugee children.”

Both Hamas and al Hindi denied that he had been elected to the Hamas political bureau despite reports in the Palestinian media and UNRWA’s Chris Gunness issued a statement saying that the organisation “has neither uncovered nor received evidence to contradict the staff member’s denial that he was elected to political office”.

On February 26th the head of COGAT commented on the issue and on the same day, al Hindi was suspended by UNRWA.

“…in light of our ongoing independent internal investigation, we had been presented with substantial information from a number of sources, which led us to take the decision this afternoon to suspend Suhail al Hindi, pending the outcome of our investigation,” UNRWA spokeswoman Chris Gunness wrote.”

Although UNRWA’s initial statement claims that “[s]taff members are prohibited from engaging in any political activity which is inconsistent or might adversely reflect upon the independence and impartiality required by their status”, the issue of the connections of UNRWA employees to Hamas is by no means new.

“Elections for the unions of the UNRWA workers in 2009 ran from March 16 to March 24. It was estimated that some 97% of those eligible to vote participated; balloting was held at UNRWA headquarters in Gaza. Once again, Hamas-affiliated candidates won all 11 seats in the teachers’ section, guaranteeing Hamas control of UNRWA schools in Gaza.

Almost immediately, a representative of Hamas in Gaza released a statement, declaring the result an indication of the “enormous support” Hamas enjoys.

Within days, John Ging, [then] UNRWA director of operations, threatened to relieve UNRWA personnel of their positions if they were associated with political parties.

Ging wrote letters to a small number of employees, indicating his concern about a “worrisome” situation. In this letter, he observed that parties “hostile” to UNRWA have advertised the victory in UNRWA elections of certain political candidates over the years, but only now did these statements come from inside Gaza, giving them enhanced credibility. […]

One of the persons who had been mentioned as having been suspended by Ging was Suhail Al-Hindi, who had been elected chairman of the teachers’ section.”

However, UNRWA did not take action against those employees in 2009, its parent organisation the UN remained silent. Al Hindi was briefly suspended by UNRWA on similar grounds in 2011 but reinstated after the UNRWA staff union declared a strike in 243 schools. In the next elections in 2012, Hamas once again received the majority of votes.

Although this latest story has been reported by a variety of local and international media organisations which do not have permanent staff and offices in the Gaza Strip, such as the Times, the BBC – which does have a bureau in Gaza – has to date chosen not to cover it.

 

 

 

 

More partial reporting on Israeli building permits from BBC News

On January 25th the lead story on the BBC News website’s Middle East page once again concerned Israeli planning permits.

In that article – titled “UN condemns Israel’s West Bank settlement plans” – readers were told that:building-permits-js-25-1

“The United Nations has condemned Israeli plans to build more settlements in the occupied West Bank.

A UN spokesman said “unilateral actions” were an obstacle to peace based on a two-state solution. […]

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres, said: “For the secretary general there is no Plan B for the two-states solution.

“In this respect any unilateral decision that can be an obstacle to the two-state goal is of grave concern for the secretary general.

“There is a need for the two parties to engage in a bona fide negotiation to reach the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, two states for two people.””

Readers also got the take of the Palestinian Authority:

“Palestinian officials said the plans undermined peace hopes by building on land they want for a future state.”

As well as that of the PLO:

“Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi strongly denounced Tuesday’s announcement.

“Once again, the Israeli government has proved that it is more committed to land theft and colonialism than to the two-state solution and the requirements for peace and stability,” she said in a statement.

“Such a deliberate escalation of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise constitutes a war crime and the flagrant violation of international law and conventions, in particular UN Security Council resolution 2334.”

Ms Ashrawi called on the US and the rest of the international community to “undertake serious and concrete measures to bring about a full cessation of all settlement activities and to hold Israel to account for these disastrous plans with punitive measures and sanctions before it completes the destruction of the territorial and demographic contiguity of the West Bank”.”

In short, 44.5% of this article’s 593 words were allocated to unquestioned amplification of comment from interested parties.

A further 173 words related to the new US administration and of course no article concerning Israeli building permits would be complete without the obliteration of pre-1967 history and the BBC’s standard partial mantra on ‘international law’.

“About 500,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.”

In contrast, the article devoted just 81 words to telling readers what the story is actually about and only in the thirteenth paragraph did they discover that most of the approved plans are located in “existing West Bank settlement blocs”.  

“On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would build 2,500 more homes in Jewish settlements “in response to housing needs”. […]

Most of the new homes approved on Tuesday will be built in existing West Bank settlement blocs, including 902 in Ariel and 652 in Givat Zeev.

One hundred will be constructed in Beit El, a settlement near Ramallah that reportedly has received funding from a foundation run by the family of Mr Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.”

Not surprisingly, the BBC chose not to tell its audiences about another part of the announcement.

“Liberman also said he would request permission from the cabinet for the construction of a Palestinian industrial park in Tarkumiya, northwest of Hebron.

“It will be one of the largest industrial zones in the West Bank, in which we are planning to set up warehouse and fuel storage infrastructure, along with other elements,” Liberman’s office said in a statement.”

BBC audiences were not, however, provided with context crucial to their proper understanding of this story in general and the generously amplified comments from the UN and from the PA and the PLO in particular.

They were not told that under the terms of the Oslo Accords Israel has full control over Area C and that the agreements – signed willingly by the Palestinians – place no ban or restriction on construction in the Israeli communities located in that area. Neither were they told that the future of Area C is, according to those agreements, to be determined in final status negotiations. And as usual, even though the BBC knows it full well, they were not informed that the main “settlement blocs” such as Ariel and its surrounding area would be likely to remain under Israeli control in the event of a peace agreement in exchange for land swaps.

It is patently obvious that the BBC is not even trying to give the impression of adhering to its professed editorial standards of ‘due impartiality’ when reporting on Israeli planning permissions.

 Related Articles:

The Jerusalem building permits the BBC didn’t report

Examining the BBC’s claim that Israeli building endangers the two state solution

 

BBC News ignores a story about press freedom

h/t Point of No Return

bbc-greste-protest

BBC journalists protest suppression of free speech in 2014

Given the BBC’s self-evident interest in freedom of the press and its track record of calling out intimidation of journalists and obstruction of free speech, one might have thought that a story about colleagues condemned by a terrorist organisation and pressured not to visit a certain country would have caught the corporation’s attention.

Ynet reports:

“A delegation of seven leading Moroccan journalists is currently being hosted by the Israeli foreign ministry with the aim of enabling the participants to view first-hand the situation in Israel and to shatter negative myths associated with the country’s image. […]

In a conversation with Ynet, one of the delegation members from a prominent Moroccan newspaper explained the climate of fear and propaganda which has hitherto precluded the possibility of such a visit from coming to fruition.

In 2009, she said, she received an invitation to visit Israel as part of Euro-Mediterranean Youth Forum but felt pressured to decline the offer.

 “I was extremely afraid of coming. We are under pressure from the Arab media, religious people and propaganda about the Palestinian issue,” the journalist confessed.

 “People are scared to become outcasts. If you say you support Israel, or even that you don’t have a negative opinion about the country in regard to the Palestinian issue, they will single you out.”

In 2010 and 2011, the same journalist received invitations to participate in a conference on counter terrorism in Israel. “For that, of all things, I wanted to come but my manager told me that if I go there he will have the right to fire me because if someone found out that one of our radio journalists visited Israel they would attack us for normalization…This is the thing that scares us in Morocco. It is forbidden to normalize relations with the Israeli enemy and with the Israeli criminal army that robs Palestinians of their land.” “

The Jerusalem Post adds:

“In a report published on London-based al-Araby al-Jadeed’s website, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said: “In the shadow of the escalation of the crimes of the Israeli enemy and the actions of racist purification against our people, we condemn the visit of a team of Moroccan media persons to the Israeli entity with the goal of normalizing with it and undertaking a campaign of beautifying its image in the Arab media.

“We consider this a crime against our people, and an offense to the feelings of the Arabs and Muslims and lovers of the Palestinian cause and an encouragement of the Israeli entity in its crimes and violations,” he continued. […]

…Barhoum stressed that “urgent work is needed to stop all forms of normalization, cooperation and connection with this Israeli entity by any party and to mobilize all the energies of the [Arab] nation to support the justice of the Palestinian cause and to stand behind our people, its rights and [its] principles.””

However, that story did not receive any coverage on either the BBC News website’s Middle East page or the BBC Arabic website’s ‘Morocco‘ section – and neither did the following recent events in Rabat:

“Hundreds demonstrated in the Moroccan capital Wednesday against the Israeli flag being flown beside the colours of 195 other countries at UN climate talks in the central city of Marrakesh. […]

“The Israeli flag at COP22 means Morocco symbolically recognizing the state of Israel. It’s unacceptable,” one protester told AFP.

“Death to America, death to Israel!” demonstrators cried while burning the Israeli flag and parading anti-Israel placards.

Several pro-Palestinian associations took part in the protest after calling on authorities to take action about the flag earlier this week.”

Apparently BBC editors did not consider that these two stories would contribute to meeting their remit of building understanding of “international issues”.

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A media story the BBC ignored surfaces again

 

 

Weekend long read

1) At the JCPA, Yoni Ben Mehachem takes a look at a topic much neglected by the BBC: Fatah’s internal politics.Weekend Read

“The succession battle in the Palestinian Authority has become very elemental since Mahmoud Abbas rejected the request of four Arab states – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – to mend fences with his bitter rival Muhammad Dahlan. Some of those states want to see Dahlan as the next PA chairman.

Although some in Fatah view Abbas’ rejection of the Arab request as an act of “political suicide,” Abbas does not show signs of stress. At the urging of Egypt and Jordan, which fear Hamas, he called off the elections in the territories and consented to a return to Fatah by some of Dahlan’s people. As far as Abbas is concerned, he has complied with most of Egypt and Jordan’s requests. Yet, still, he is not prepared to countenance Muhammad Dahlan.”

2) The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff reports on another Palestinian succession battle likewise ignored by the BBC to date.

“Many people consider Haniyeh the leading candidate to succeed incumbent Khaled Mashaal, 60, primarily because of where he lives — Gaza. Running against him is Moussa Abu Marzouk, 65, who already was the head of the political wing (1992-7), is now Mashaal’s deputy (along with Haniyeh), and is considered a close associate of groups belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood’s global network.

There is a third candidate, too, well known to every Hamas activist in Gaza, the West Bank, and abroad. His name is Khaled Mashaal.

As Palestinian commentators point out, Hamas’s constitution prevents Mashaal being re-elected again. But anything is possible when it comes to Mashaal (Abu al-Walid), who has held the post for 20 years. Hamas may have a hard time saying goodbye to him, almost as hard as Mashaal would have in saying goodbye to the job. As head of Hamas’s political wing, he enjoys extraordinary status not only among the Palestinians but also throughout the Middle East and the Muslim states. He and his relatives are believed to have accrued considerable property and wealth in Qatar.

Will he be prepared to step down? Quite a few experts doubt it.

And quite a few experts question whether the Hamas election process is going to much resemble democracy in the first place.”

3) At the Washington Post Professor Eugene Kontorovich writes about “Why the U.N.’s Israel obsession should worry even people who don’t care about Israel”.

“Everyone knows the U.N. spends a disproportionate time on Israel, but the data reveal that even within resolutions, it uses a unique legal vocabulary for the Jewish state. The scale of the difference is quite striking. […]

Since 1967, General Assembly resolutions have referred to Israeli-held territories as “occupied” 2,342 times, while the territories mentioned above are referred to as “occupied” a mere 16 times combined… Similarly, Security Council resolutions refer to the disputed territories in the Israeli-Arab conflict as “occupied” 31 times, but only a total of five times in reference to all seven other conflicts combined.”

4) Fathom has an interesting article titled “Othering Zionism: theoretical affinities between Islamists and the Anti-Zionist Left”.

“The political alliances between Islamist organisations and the anti-Zionist Left rests on an underlying theoretical compatibility, argues Sapan Maini-Thompson. He examines their shared ideological schema in which Jews appear only as alien, racist, colonial interlopers in the region while Islamist and even anti-Semitic ‘resistance’ movements are coded as authentic and so progressive.”

5) At the Tower, Professor Gerald Steinberg reflects on the fifteen years since the Durban Conference.

“For many observers, the “Durban Strategy” marked the coming-out party for a “new anti-Semitism.” Unlike more traditional forms of anti-Semitism, which were by nature more overtly religious or racial in their blatant discrimination towards Jews, new anti-Semitism conceals the millennia-old hatred in a contemporary package, one better suited for a 21st-century audience. This anti-Semitism exploits the language of universal human rights and civil society, with NGOs publishing false and distorted allegations regarding Israel, and creating and maintaining double standards that apply only to a single country. New anti-Semitism goes well beyond any notion of legitimate criticism of Israel and its policies, and instead promulgates hateful vilification of the country, its people, and its Jewish character.”

BBC’s 2014 claim of an attack on a UN school shown to be inaccurate

On August 3rd 2014 the BBC told its audiences that Israeli forces had attacked a UN school in Rafah.

Tweet breaking UN school

Tweet w news UN school

BBC correspondent Martin Patience produced a filmed report titled “Gaza crisis: Chaos after deadly strike ‘at UN school’” in which he informed viewers that Israel was serially attacking UN schools.Patience 3 8 Rafah

“Eye witnesses say that it was an Israeli airstrike. It struck at the entrance of this UN school in the southern town of Rafah. Now it’s believed children are among the dead. We also understand that at least thirty others have been injured. Ah…now this is the third deadly attack on a United Nations school since this conflict began. Just last week Israel faced international condemnation after an attack on a UN school left at least 17 dead.” [emphasis added]

In an article which appeared on the BBC News website on the same day, quotes from UN officials were given amplification.

“UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the attack as a “moral outrage and a criminal act”.”

“In a strongly worded statement, Mr Ban called for those responsible for the “gross violation of international humanitarian law” to be held accountable.”

“Robert Turner, director of operations for the UN Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza, said: “The locations of all of these installations have been passed to the Israeli military multiple times.

“They know where these shelters are. How this continues to happen, I have no idea.””

An edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ broadcast on August 3rd 2014 is also available online. Two years on, listeners can still hear presenter Rebecca Kesby’s inaccurate allegations: [emphasis added]Newshour 3 8

RK: “Well the UN seems pretty convinced that it was an Israeli shell that hit their school. Robert Turner has been saying that it’s now the third such facility of theirs that your forces have hit. He’s very cross. He says that the UN keeps telling the Israeli forces the precise location of all their facilities where people are going to take shelter and they keep being hit.”

RK: “People listening to this will be very cross to hear this again – just three days after another attack on a UN school which provoked widespread condemnation around the world. You talk about surgical strikes and precision bombing but the evidence is very different.”

“On the question of the UN-run school that was hit in Rafah this morning: when will you know if it was your rocket that killed those ten people and injured those 30 others?”

“Excuse me, sir, but you’re telling Palestinians to evacuate from their homes and seek shelter. They seek shelter at UN schools. You then bomb the schools. Whether it’s near the school or not, it’s not safe for them there, is it?”

The Military Attorney General recently published the results of the investigation into that incident (section 7 here). [emphasis added]

“In media reports, as well as in the complaints and reports of NGOs and international organizations, it was alleged, that on August 3, 2014, at around 10:45, a number of civilians were killed and others injured, as the result of an IDF aerial strike in proximity to a Rafah school run by UNRWA. The number of fatalities varies from report to report, and ranges from seven to fifteen fatalities. According to the main allegation arising in the aforementioned complaints and reports, the strike took place a few meters from the gate of the school, which was at that time serving as a shelter for civilians who had evacuated their homes, at the exact moment when the gate was open, and was aimed at a motorbike that was passing through the area and its riders. 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 the school was designated as a “sensitive site” on the relevant operational systems of the IDF. In accordance with the IDF’s operational instructions, any military operation to be conducted in the vicinity of such sites requires the adoption of special precautions. The fact that the school was serving at the time as a shelter for civilians who had evacuated from their homes was also noted on the relevant systems.

It was further found, that on 3 August 2014, the IDF observed three people riding on a motorbike, who were identified, on the basis of up-to-date intelligence information, as military operatives. From the moment that the decision to strike the operatives was made, the IDF carried out aerial surveillance on the motorbike’s path, and surveyed a wide radius of the estimated continued route of the motorbike, in order to minimize the potential for harm to civilians on the route or in proximity thereto. The final destination of the military operatives was not known to the operational authorities. The strike on the military operatives was planned for execution by means of a precise munition, with a reduced explosive load, in a way that would allow for the strike’s objective to be achieved, whilst minimizing the potential for harm to civilians or passing vehicles.

It was further found, that a period of time after the munition had been fired, and mere seconds before it reached its target, the motorbike entered a traffic circle with a number of different exits, and left it via one of them. The FFA Mechanism’s findings indicate that with the means that were at their disposal, and under the visibility conditions prevailing at that time, the operational authorities were not able to discern in real-time the group of civilians that were outside the school, in proximity to the route along which the aforementioned motorbike was travelling. It was further found that, in any case, at the moment upon which the motorbike exited the traffic circle and started to travel along the road bordering the wall which surrounded the school, it was no longer possible to divert the munition which had been fired at the motorbike.

The strike on the motorbike riders occurred immediately after the motorbike passed by the gate of the school. As mentioned above, it is alleged that as a result of the strike between seven and fifteen people in the vicinity of the school’s gate were killed (as indicated above, the number of fatalities varies from report to report). According to the findings of the FFA Mechanism, three military operatives were among the fatalities.

After reviewing the factual findings and the material collated by the FFA Mechanism, the MAG found that the targeting process in question accorded with Israeli domestic law and international law requirements.

The decision to strike was taken by the competent authorities, and the object of the attack was lawful – military operatives. 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 (essentially, it was considered in real-time that the strike would only harm the military operatives targeted). This assessment was not unreasonable under the circumstances, in light of the fact that aerial surveillance of the routes which the motorbike was predicted to take, which had commenced when the decision to strike was taken, had not shown any civilian presence on those routes.

Moreover, the attack was carried out in conjunction with various precautionary measures, such as the selection of the munition used to carry out the strike, which aimed to mitigate the risk to civilians and passing vehicles. It was also found that under the circumstances, the operational authorities had not foreseen that the strike on the motorbike would take place in the vicinity of the school, and that, in any case, at the time at which it became clear that the strike would occur in proximity to the school, they did not have the capacity to prevent the strike from taking place in that location. The fact that, in practice, civilians who were uninvolved in the hostilities were harmed, is a tragic and regrettable result, but does not affect the legality of the attack ex post facto.”

Obviously footnotes need to be added to the relevant reports still available online in order to clarify to members of the public that the claim that the UN school was attacked is inaccurate.

Likewise, a similar clarification needs to be added to the BBC News website article titled “Gaza conflict: Disputed deadly incidents” which is also still available online and in which audiences are told that:

“Locals have told the BBC there were no militants in or near the school.”

Since the end of the conflict between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip two years ago, investigations into several of the incidents reported by the BBC have shown (see related articles below) that audiences were at the time given inaccurate and misleading information.

To the best of our knowledge, none of the specious reports which still remain available online (and form part of what the BBC terms ‘historical record’) have been amended to inform the general public of the outcome of investigations into the incidents and to correct inaccurate and misleading information included in their content.  The failure to take such necessary steps risks the waste of publicly funded resources on complaints relating to those reports due to the fact that the BBC’s editorial guidelines state that if content is still available online, it may legitimately be the subject of editorial complaints.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Martin Patience tells TV audiences that Israel attacks UN schools

BBC claims that Israel targeted a centre for the disabled in Gaza shown to be inaccurate

BBC reports on Wafa hospital shown to be inaccurate

Clarifications required for BBC reports on Shati incident

Revisiting BBC reporting on July 2014 Shuja’iya market incident

BBC News passes up on the chance to correct Gaza misinformation

A BBC story from August 2014 still in need of clarification

Revisiting the BBC’s claims about a 2014 story from Rafah

Revisiting the BBC’s 2014 reports on Gaza’s power plant

Golan Heights residents bust the BBC (and UN) obsolete narrative

In March of this year a BBC News website report failed to tell audiences the whole story behind a UN Human Rights Council anti-Israel resolution.

“Knell does not however inform BBC audiences that the resolution was initiated by the Palestinians and promoted by various Arab and Muslim countries. Despite her use of the term “Palestinian lands” and the fact that the report opens by telling readers that “Israel has criticised the UN Human Rights Council for voting to establish a database of firms doing business in settlements in the occupied West Bank”, Knell does not tell readers that the resolution also includes the Golan Heights.

Readers are not told that at the same session – which took place during the week in which five years of civil war in Syria were marked – the UNHRC also passed a resolution calling on Israel to relinquish the Golan Heights to Syria along with condemnation of alleged ‘human rights abuses’ against the Druze population of the Golan.”

Majdal Shams

Majdal Shams

The Mayor of the Golan Heights town of Majdal Shams recently gave an interview in which he addressed one of the persistent and perennially predictable UN resolutions concerning the Golan Heights and its Druze population.

“A leader of the Druze population of the Golan Heights disputed the assertion of a United Nations committee that accused Israel of imposing economic and social hardships on his community.

Dulan abu-Saleh, the mayor of Majdal Shams, the largest Druze town in the Golan, told Makor Rishon that the UN Economic and Social Council’s recent statement on the area was “a total joke,” the daily reported Friday. […]

“I don’t understand what they’re talking about, it’s laughable,” abu-Saleh said. Druze in the Golan “don’t serve in the IDF and so far are only receiv[e] from the state.” Referencing the war in Syria, he said: “Why don’t they condemn the horrors in Syria, where dozens of children are killed daily? Golan residents have a good life.”

He also said: “Although we weren’t included in some major cabinet decisions on budgets, when we build and make up plans we never felt discrimination. On the contrary, we always found an attentive ear.”

Prior to the eruption in 2011 of a civil war in Syria, only 1,700 of the Golan’s Druze claimed Israeli citizenship offered to them. Hundreds have applied since then.”

In addition:

“Karim Batkhish, a resident of the town of Masa’ada, is quoted as saying: “The war in Syria is irrelevant to us. Some may say they support [Syrian President Bashar] Assad but it’s a lie to show Syria we’re with them. They’re lying, no one wants to see Syria here.””

Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, BBC reporters have periodically produced reports from the Golan Heights, all of which have presented an outdated and monochrome portrait of the Golan Druze which fails to inform audiences of the changes that events of recent years have brought about.

In 2013 it was Bethany Bell who reported that:

“Traditionally the Druze have had close religious and political ties to the family of the Syrian leader Bashar al Assad. The secretive Druze religion, like Mr Assad’s Alawite sect, draws on branches of Shia Islam and strong Syrian nationalism has tended to mean loyalty to the Assads.”

In 2015 Kevin Connolly told BBC audiences:

“Most of the Druze of the Israeli-occupied Golan continue to regard themselves as Syrians. They follow the television news from Damascus and await the reunification of a country from which they were cut off by the wars of 1967 and 1973.”

In 2016 BBC audiences were told by Diana Darke that:

“Interrupted by periodic explosions from the direction of Damascus, Abu Amin and I exchange poignant memories of the Syrian capital where he studied for four years. ‘Although the Israelis pressure us, we will never give up our Syrian nationality’ he assures me. ‘This war will end one day and our families will be joined again’. […]

Abu Amin’s generation still treasures memories of Damascus but the Golan’s younger Druze – deprived of such cherished dreams – have found their own uniquely non-political vision of their future. Key to the Druze faith is reincarnation of souls – male to male, female to female – always into a newborn child. They simply believe they will be reincarnated in their next lives into the right part of Syria.”

There is a very interesting story to be told about the ways in which the Syrian civil war has affected residents of the four Druze villages on the Golan Heights and their relationship with Israel. It is a story, however, which the BBC continues to overlook, preferring instead to adhere to its long outdated narrative. 

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ dodges the issue of UN bias against Israel

In addition to the BBC’s written and filmed reports concerning remarks made by the UN Secretary General on January 26th which were previously discussed here, audiences also heard an audio report (from 18:52 here) which was broadcast on BBC World Service radio’s ‘Newshour’.Newshour logo

During the conversation between presenter Tim Franks and the BBC’s Nick Bryant listeners heard an account of Ban Ki Moon’s comments with Bryant telling listeners that he “called for a freeze on Israel’s settlement activity”. As was also the case in the written and filmed reports, Bryant did not clarify that an informal construction freeze has been in place for “almost two years” according to Ha’aretz.

In response to Tim Franks’ question about the Israeli reaction to Ban Ki Moon’s remarks, Bryant replied:

“Well there’s been a very strong reaction from the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israelis always believe that they are victimized at the UN; that they are singled out unfairly; that they are isolated…”

Neither he nor Franks provided listeners with any of the amply available relevant information which would allow them to understand the background to that portrayal – including admissions by Ban Ki Moon himself and his predecessor.

Later on Bryant told listeners:

“But it was the words of Ban Ki Moon that really created the headlines out of that meeting and I sense that, you know, clearly he is deeply troubled by these reports that the Israeli government has approved plans for over 150 new homes in what he calls illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank…”

As was the case in the written and filmed reports, Bryant made no effort to clarify to audiences that there had been no official confirmation of that supposed planning approval or that the “reports” he quotes come from the political NGO ‘Peace Now’. Bryant went on:

“…and that comes off the back of a declaration last week that an area of land – 370 acres in the West Bank, south of Jericho – has now been called state land. He described those as provocative acts.”

Bryant failed to provide listeners with the background to that story about a plot of land located in Area C and hence, according to the Oslo Accords, under full Israeli control.

“The technical move to change the status of the land, which has been farmed for decades by settlers, followed the conclusion of a Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria investigation into the land’s proper legal status under Israeli law. […]

It is also close to the settlements of Vered Yeriho, Almog and Beit Ha’arava and is under the auspices of the Megilot Regional Council. […]

The civil administration said that a decision had been taken by the political echelon for professionals to evaluate the status of the land. “The declaration of state land is in its final stages,” the civil administration said.

There will be a 40-day objection period before such a declaration takes place. Giving the property the status of state land will make it easier for the farmers to use it.”

In conclusion, whilst listeners to this item heard uncritical amplification of the UN Secretary General’s comments, they were not provided with the necessary background which would enable them to assess their validity or the information pertaining to the UN’s record on Israel which would enhance understanding of their context.