On July 24th an article titled “Jerusalem holy site tensions ‘must ease by Friday’” was published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.
Readers were told that:
“The UN’s Middle East envoy has warned tensions over a holy site in Jerusalem must ease by Friday, or risk spreading “well beyond” the ancient city.
Nikolay Mladenov urged a rapid solution to the current crisis over the site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount. […]
…Mr Mladenov said: “It is extremely important that a solution to the current crisis be found by Friday this week. I think the dangers on the ground will escalate if we go through another cycle of Friday prayer without a resolution to this current crisis.”
He continued: “Nobody should be mistaken that these events are localised events. In fact, they may be taking place over a couple of hundred square metres, but the affect millions if not billions of people around the world.
“They have the potential to have catastrophic costs well beyond the walls of the old city, well beyond Israel and Palestine, well beyond the Middle East itself.””
Mr Mladenov did indeed make those remarks, but as the transcript (to which the BBC’s report did not provide a link) shows, he also addressed the topic of Palestinian incitement: an issue which for years has been serially downplayed or ignored by the BBC – not least during this latest crisis.
“…the Palestinian leadership also has a responsibility to avoid provocative actions and statements that further aggravate an already tense environment. I am particularly concerned by some statements that have been made by some Palestinian factions that seek to fan the flames of violence and I call on all to condemn such statements and actions.”
That omission is particularly relevant in light of the fact that this article – like previous BBC coverage of the same story – describes the orchestrated rioting by Palestinians as ‘protests’.
“Palestinians protested over the move.”
“…thousands protested in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.”
Additional noteworthy points arising from this report include its failure (in contrast to the UN representative’s statement) once again to clarify that last Friday’s attack in Halamish was an act of terrorism.
“…three Israeli civilians were stabbed to death and a fourth injured by a Palestinian who entered a home at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.”
Also notable is the appearance of yet another example of the use of PLO recommended language to describe Temple Mount.
“The site in Jerusalem’s Old City is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Jews revere it as the location of two Biblical Temples and holiest site in Judaism. It is also the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam.” [emphasis added]
As has been the case in previous BBC reporting on this topic, the report unnecessarily qualifies information (that has not been provided to BBC audiences) concerning the smuggling of firearms into al Aqsa mosque by terrorists and erases their accomplice from the picture.
“Israel says that three Israeli Arabs who carried out the 14 July shooting near the compound were able to smuggle guns inside and that metal detectors are needed to stop similar attacks. Police chased the attackers into the site afterwards and shot them dead.” [emphasis added]
Also in common with previous coverage, the article uncritically amplifies unfounded Palestinian messaging while failing to inform audiences what the existing “arrangements” are or to clarify that Israel is responsible for security at the site.
“But Palestinians strongly object to the installation of metal detectors. They see it as a move by Israel to assert more control over the sacred site and as a violation of longstanding access arrangements.”
With those omissions now standard in the BBC’s coverage of this story, it is not difficult to identify the corporation’s chosen editorial line.