BBC News reports rocket attack on TA fifteen hours later

When the BBC News website finally got round to informing its readers of the rocket fire on Tel Aviv that occurred on the evening of March 14th it did so – over 15 hours after the event – using the frequently seenlast-first reporting’ formulation: “Israel strikes militant sites in Gaza after rockets fired at Tel Aviv”.

“Israel has carried out dozens of air strikes on Palestinian militant sites in Gaza in retaliation for the firing of two rockets towards Tel Aviv.”

In its opening paragraphs the report told readers that:

“Hamas, which dominates Gaza, insisted it was not behind the rocket fire.

Israeli media are citing an Israeli defence official as saying that the rockets may have been launched “by mistake” while maintenance work was being carried out.”

Even though it later repeated Hamas’ denials, the BBC did not bother to clarify to readers that for such a ‘mistake’ to have happened, Hamas would have had to set up and load a missile launcher which was deliberately aimed at Israel’s biggest metropolitan area.

The article – which included two images from the Gaza Strip and one embedded IDF Tweet with a video of sirens sounding in Tel Aviv – later informed readers that:

“The organising committee of a months-long Palestinian protest campaign also announced that Friday’s weekly demonstrations along Gaza’s border with Israel had been called off “in keeping with the public interest”.”

BBC audiences were not told that among the members of that “organising committee” are terror groups including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Neither did the BBC bother to clarify to readers that this demonstration of Hamas’ ability to turn off the ‘Great Return March’ tap at will and according to its own interests illustrates just how far off the mark the BBC’s year-long portrayal of the rioting as spontaneous public ‘protests’ has been.

Notably, the BBC’s report did not include any information concerning the related topic of some other protests which have been taking place in the Gaza Strip over the past few days.

“Palestinians in the Gaza Strip took to the streets on Friday for the second successive day to protest against Hamas and the dire economic condition in the Strip, with some reports saying the terror group used live fire to put down the demonstrations. […]

The center of the demonstrations was in Deir el-Balah, where Hebrew media reports said protesters burned tires and blocked one of the central Gaza city’s main roads.

Similar protests were also taking place in Khan Younis in the south of the Strip. […]

Quoting the demonstrators, the Ynet news site said they were beaten by security forces loyal to Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules Gaza. The Hamas members also reportedly used live fire to disperse the protests.”

Those familiar with the BBC’s serial under-reporting of Palestinian affairs will not be surprised by the fact that those demonstrations against Hamas have to date received no coverage.

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Rocket attack on Tel Aviv ignored by BBC News website

Just after 9 p.m. on March 14th two Fajr missiles were launched from the northern Gaza Strip at the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

“The Israeli military confirmed that two rockets were fired towards central Israel on Thursday evening, with at least two loud explosions heard in the Gush Dan region.

According to the IDF, although the Iron Dome missile defense system was activated, there were no interceptions as both rockets fell in open territory.

It was the first time sirens were activated in Tel Aviv since the last war with Gaza in 2014 and several Israelis were treated for shock.”

The IDF later confirmed that Hamas was responsible for the attack and responded with strikes on terror sites in the Gaza Strip overnight. Terrorists launched several barrages of rockets at Israeli communities close to the border with the Gaza Strip throughout the night and early on the morning of March 15th.

“A red alert was heard in the Eshkol Regional Council at around the same time that the overnight airs strikes began. A second red alert was activated in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council and Sdot Negev Regional Council soon after. The Iron Dome defense system intercepted one of the rockets.

Many more red alerts sounded Friday morning as rockets were aimed at the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council, Ashkelon beach and Sderot. The Iron Dome intercepted some of the rockets. There were no reported casualties.”

Some two hours after the attack on Tel Aviv, listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ heard a report from the Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman (from 14:14 here).

However, twelve hours after Hamas terrorists launched two missiles at Tel Aviv, the BBC News website still had nothing to tell its readers about that story.

BBC News website Middle East page 15/3/19 09:00

 

A ‘Great Return March’ story BBC audiences have not been told

As readers may recall, last year it took the BBC three months to get round to producing a report concerning the arson attacks perpetrated by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip which resulted in the destruction of thousands of acres of nature reserves, woodland and farm land in nearby Israeli communities.

A two and a half minute BBC News video on a story ignored for three months

While the arson attacks using kites and balloons were somewhat less prevalent during the wet winter months, recent weeks have seen an increase in the use of an additional tactic: airborne explosive devices.

In early January:

“…a bomb was flown into Israel using a large cluster of balloons and a drone-like glider device, landing in a carrot field in the Sdot Negev region of southern Israel shortly before noon.”

In late February:

“An explosive device flown into Israel from the Gaza Strip detonated outside a home in the Eshkol region, causing damage but no injuries on Wednesday night, officials said.

The small bomb had been attached to a cluster of balloons and launched toward Israel from the coastal enclave on Wednesday as part of nightly riots along the Gaza border.”

On March 4th an airborne explosive device exploded between two homes in the Eshkol region and the following day saw two more attacks.

“Two explosive devices borne by clusters of balloons from the Gaza Strip detonated inside communities in southern Israel on Tuesday […]

On Tuesday afternoon, the first device exploded in an agricultural field in the Eshkol region. […]

Hours later, a second device was flown into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip, landing inside a community in the Sha’ar Hanegev region, the local government said.”

The next day also saw two attacks.

“Two explosive devices attached to bunches of balloons were launched from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and detonated above a community in the southern Israeli Eshkol region.”

An additional incident took place on March 9th .

Photo credit: Almog Boker, Channel 13

“Police sappers were called to the Israel-Gaza border area on Saturday after a cluster of balloons suspected of carrying an explosive device landed in Israeli territory.

Hebrew media reported that the balloons carried a warhead from an anti-tank missile.

The balloons were located in the Sdot Negev Regional Council. Police instructed hikers to keep away from the area as they carried out a controlled explosion.”

And on March 11th:

“Two suspicious packages attached to balloons, at least one of which was reportedly an explosive device, were found Monday at different locations in a southern community near the Gaza Strip.

Police sappers were called in to deal with the devices, which landed in areas of the Eshkol Regional Council.”

To date the BBC has not produced any reporting whatsoever on the topic of the airborne explosive devices launched from the Gaza Strip. We can however expect to continue to see BBC journalists giving audiences ignorant and inaccurate portrayals of the ‘Great Return March’ in which terrorism is downplayed or erased and its perpetrators presented as “innocent civilians”.

Weekend long read

1) Writing at the New York Times, Matti Friedman explains why “There Is No ‘Israeli-Palestinian Conflict’”.

“There isn’t an Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the way that many outsiders seem to think, and this perception gap is worth spelling out. It has nothing to do with being right-wing or left-wing in the American sense. To borrow a term from the world of photography, the problem is one of zoom. Simply put, outsiders are zoomed in, and people here in Israel are zoomed out. Understanding this will make events here easier to grasp.

In the Israeli view, no peacemaker can bring the two sides together because there aren’t just two sides. There are many, many sides. […]

If you see only an “Israeli-Palestinian” conflict, then nothing that Israelis do makes sense. (That’s why Israel’s enemies prefer this framing.) In this tightly cropped frame, Israelis are stronger, more prosperous and more numerous. The fears affecting big decisions, like what to do about the military occupation in the West Bank, seem unwarranted if Israel is indeed the far more powerful party.”

2) Dr Jonathan Spyer asks “Will Turkey invade north-east Syria?”.

“The announcement by US President Donald Trump on December 19 of his intention to rapidly withdraw US forces from eastern Syria led to expectations of a rapid move by Turkish forces into all or part of the area currently controlled by the US-aligned, Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces.  The precipitating factor that led to Trump’s announcement, after all, was a phone call between the President and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayepp Erdogan.  For Turkey, control by what Ankara regards as the Syrian franchise of the PKK of a large swathe of the 900 km Syrian-Turkish border has long been seen as entirely unacceptable.  The Kurdish dominated SDF are capable and proven fighters.  But without US help, and facing Turkish air power and artillery, they would be able only to resist for a while.  This had been already proven in Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch in January, 2018, when Ankara invaded and destroyed the Kurdish canton of Afrin in north-west Syria. […]

For a number of reasons, however, the prospect of an early large-scale entry of Turkish forces into north-east Syria now seems less likely than it did a couple of weeks ago.”

3) Tony Badran discusses “Arafat and the Ayatollahs” at Tablet magazine.

“When Yasser Arafat arrived in Tehran on Feb. 17, 1979, the first “foreign leader” invited to visit Iran mere days after the victory of the revolution, he declared he was coming to his “own home.” There was some truth in Arafat’s flowery words. Having developed and nurtured a decade’s worth of relationships with all the major forces, from Marxists to Islamists, which had toppled the shah, he had good reason to feel like the victory of the revolution was in some part his own.

Although the heady days of February 1979 would soon give way to tensions, the Palestinians were integral to both the Islamic Revolution and to the formation of the Khomeinist regime. For Arafat, the revolutionary regime in Iran carried the promise of gaining a powerful new ally for the Palestinians. In addition, Arafat saw a chance to play the middleman between Iran and the Arabs, and to encourage them to eschew conflict with each other in favor of supporting the Palestinians in their fight against Israel. Yet it soon became clear that Arafat’s double fantasy was unattainable, and would in fact become quite dangerous to the Palestinian cause.”

4) Belgian Friends of Israel have produced a series of short videos featuring conversations with residents of the area close to the border with the Gaza Strip.

See the additional videos here.

 

The BBC’s monochrome framing of Gaza’s chronic utilities crisis

Last month the BBC aired reports from the Gaza Strip presented by Radio 4’s Mishal Husain which included multiple references to issues concerning water, electricity and sewage.

As was noted here at the time:

“…listeners heard that “more than 90% of the population don’t have access to safe drinking water” and that “the desalination system in Gaza has broken down” because of “electricity”. No effort was made to clarify the full background to those statements or to explain that – as the BBC knows – the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip (and resulting problems with water and sewage) has nothing to do with “the blockade”.”

The portrayal of those issues focused mainly on framing them as being primarily attributable to Israel’s counter-terrorism measures while no effort was made to explain the role of Hamas terrorism in bringing about those measures. The effects of Hamas’ financial prioritisation of terrorism over civilian welfare, its chronic mismanagement of services and utilities and infrastructure and the influence of the Hamas-Fatah split on the situation in the Gaza Strip were not adequately explained in the BBC’s reporting.

Like other BBC reporters before her, Mishal Husain did not bother to clarify that the “shortage of clean water” in the Gaza Strip is the result of years of over-pumping.

“The coastal aquifer, which is located under the coastal plain of Israel and the Gaza Strip, is the only source of natural water in Gaza. Due to rapid population growth, which in the last decade increased from nearly 1.5 million in 2007 to more than 2 million today, the demand for water in the Gaza Strip has surged. The increased water needs alongside the scarcity of alternative sources of water have led to the extreme over use of the aquifer. While the renewable extraction rate for Gaza’s underground aquifer is about 60 million cubic meters of rain water annually, Palestinians in Gaza have been drawing an estimated 200 million cubic meters a year for over a decade, leading to the infiltration of sea-water into the aquifer, and therefore raising the levels of salinity far beyond WHO health regulations.”

Neither were BBC audiences informed of the effects of Hamas’ failure to address the issue of sewage treatment.

“Gaza’s groundwater has also been extensively contaminated by sewage. The discharge of untreated sewage generated by the two million inhabitants into shallow ponds – which eventually percolates into the aquifer – has caused alarming levels of Nitrate (NO3).”

The chronic electricity shortage in the Gaza Strip, which was exacerbated in 2017 by the Palestinian Authority’s dispute with Hamas, also contributed to the problem.

“Wastewater plants are not fully operating, resulting in more than 100,000 cubic meters of raw or poorly treated sewage being discharged into the sea on a daily basis.”

Notably BBC audiences have heard nothing whatsoever about the health and environmental hazards created by the increased draining of sewage from neighbourhoods in the northern Gaza Strip since summer 2017 into a stream which crosses into Israeli territory. That practice continues and an additional hazard has emerged.

“Due to the dire economic situation in Gaza, the wastewater plant cannot undergo the needed treatments, prompting Palestinians living in the northern neighborhoods of the Strip—Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia—to drain sewage into Nahal Hanun, which crosses Israel and empties into the sea, polluting the groundwater in the process.

In order to stop wastewater flow and reduce the environmental damage, the [Israeli] Water Authority has recently set up a pumping station near the Erez border crossing, which effectively made Israel responsible for water purification of the northern Gaza Strip. Before the Israeli intervention, the moshavim and kibbutzim near the border—Netiv HaAsara, Erez, Yad Mordechai, and Zikim—suffered from a continuous onslaught of mosquitoes and flies. […]

As well as that, massive piles of trash have accumulated in the area bordering the Eshkol Regional Council after three giant landfills were set up along the border fence, leaving the locals to cope with a putrid and toxic smell being carried by the wind across the border. 

The landfills are derelict as dry and wet waste gets mixed up and subsequently burned, increasing the environmental impact.”

BBC reporting on the subject of shortages of water and electricity in the Gaza Strip and the related issue of inadequate sewage treatment nevertheless continues to adhere to the type of framing seen in an edition of ‘Hardtalk’ aired on multiple BBC platforms in November 2018 in which presenter Stephen Sackur told the Israeli minister being interviewed: [emphasis added]

“…you’re saying that Israel’s besieging tactics in Gaza – the fact that Gaza doesn’t really have power supplies that work, it doesn’t have clean water, it has a jobless rate of 60% or more – you’re saying all of this isn’t tough enough; that Israel should be hammering Gaza harder. Is that it?”

Although BBC audiences have long been steered towards the inaccurate view that (as also claimed by Hamas) all the economic and humanitarian problems in the Gaza Strip are attributable to Israeli counter-terrorism measures, while the roles of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in creating and exacerbating the crisis are downplayed or airbrushed from the story, that framing clearly does not meet the BBC’s obligation to provide its funding public with “accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming of the highest editorial standards”. 

Related Articles:

BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ Gaza Strip special – part one

BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ Gaza Strip special – part two

BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ Gaza Strip special – part three

BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ Gaza Strip special – part four

BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ Gaza Strip special – part five

Mishal Husain does ‘life in Gaza’ for BBC One TV

 

Weekend long read

1) At the JCPA Yoni Ben Menachem reports on a visit to Tehran by the new Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader.

“During a visit to Tehran on December 29, 2018, Ziyad Nakhalah, leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), met with the top echelons of Iran’s leadership, including the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran’s head of the Supreme Security Council, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani told Nakhalah, “Iran has always been supportive to the resistant and oppressed Palestinian people since the very start of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s establishment, which was inspired by our religious and humane beliefs and will continue until the complete victory of the resistance process.”

Nakhalah gave an interview to the Iranian TV channel Al-Alam, in which he revealed the “Axis of Resistance” plan, led by Iran, to attack Israel from the north and the south. PIJ serves as Iran’s proxy in Gaza. Nakhalah’s statements were issued several days after his public meeting in Beirut with the leader of Hizbullah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.”

2) At the INSS Meir Elran and Alon Shuster discuss “Societal Resilience in the “Gaza Envelope” and its Relevance for Other Areas in Israel“.

“Over the last ten years, in three rounds of fighting with Hamas (2008/9, 2012, 2014), and between them, as during the events of recent months, the “Gaza Envelope” residents have indeed demonstrated that they have amassed – with comprehensive help from the government and local authorities – an impressive degree of societal resilience. This was manifested not only in their determined stand against terror, but also in their fast recovery from the severe disruptions, and even more so in the remarkable growth in all these localities during a challenging period. Demographic, economic, and social growth in the face of such continuing threats reflects an outstanding level of societal resilience.

These vital capacities are not accidental. They are the direct result of a profound understanding on the part of the local leadership, based on lengthy practical experience, of the importance of resilience and how to enhance it over time.”

3) The ITIC reports on Fatah and Palestinian Authority rebuilding of terrorists’ houses.

“The Palestinian Authority (PA), Fatah and institutions affiliated with them help rebuild the houses destroyed by Israel that belonged to terrorists’ families. The rebuilding is an act of defiance to challenge the deterrent message Israel sends by destroying the houses. The PA policy was recent illustrated by two cases: the Tulkarm municipality and Fatah activists donated funds and supervise the engineering aspects of rebuilding the house of the family of terrorist Ashraf Na’alwa, who murdered two Israelis in the Barkan industrial zone. In addition, a senior Fatah figure said Mahmoud Abbas had ordered the rebuilding of the family house of terrorist Islam Yusuf Abu Hamid, who killed an IDF soldiers by throwing a slab of marble on him during an IDF security activity.”

4) At the Algemeiner CAMERA’s Tamar Sternthal documents “Top Israel News Coverage Fails of 2018“.

“The end of the year is a natural time to look back on 2018’s most defining moments, the highs and the lows, the pictures and the stories which best capture the significant developments, movements, or trends. Reuters’ “Pictures of the Year 2018” feature, released last month, is a case in point. […]

Thus, one of the selected Reuters images was apparently intended to convey the Israeli-Palestinian clashes at the Gaza border since Hamas began the violent “March of Return” events in late March. In reality, it exemplified the flawed, caustic media coverage skewed against Israel.”