Just over two and a half years ago the BBC News website published a report with the misleading title “EU court takes Hamas off terrorist organisations list”.
That report was noteworthy for its incomplete portrayal of Hamas’ designation as a terror organisation in countries worldwide, for its promotion of Hamas spin, for its whitewashing of the violent Hamas coup in Gaza in 2007 and for its amplification of the notion that the terror group might be seen as a “legitimate resistance movement”.
In September of last year the website published another article about the same story headlined “EU advised to drop Hamas and Tamil Tigers from terror list“.
That article similarly amplified the Hamas narrative of ‘resistance’, provided incomplete information concerning the countries that proscribe Hamas as a terror organisation and downplayed Hamas’ violent take-over of the Gaza Strip while failing to provide readers with factual information concerning Hamas’ long history of terror attacks against Israeli civilians.
On July 26th the news that the Court of Justice of the European Union had ruled that Hamas should stay on the EU’s list of terrorist organisations was reported on the BBC News website’s Europe and Middle East pages in an article titled “EU top court keeps Hamas on terror blacklist“.
After an explanation of the court’s ruling and the background to the story, the article went on to repeat the themes seen in the previous reports.
“Hamas has always argued it is a resistance movement rather than a terrorist organisation, although under its charter it is committed to Israel’s destruction.”
“It is seen as a terrorist group by the EU, US, Canada and Japan.”
Israel of course also designates Hamas in its entirety. In addition, Australia designates Hamas’ Izz al Din Al Qassam Brigades as a terrorist organisation, as do New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
3) 2007 coup:
“After winning parliamentary elections in 2006, Hamas ousted its Fatah rivals from Gaza the following year and has since fought several conflicts with Israel.”
The report told readers that the ECJ:
“…said its verdict reaffirmed that the EU “may maintain a person or an entity on the list if it concludes that there is an ongoing risk of that person or entity being involved in the terrorist activities which justified their initial listing”.”
However, it once again failed to provide readers with factual information concerning Hamas’ long history of terror attacks against Israeli civilians or its current activities such as digging cross-border attack tunnels and manufacturing missiles – despite their obvious relevance to the article’s subject matter.
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.
Last week we noted that the synopsis to a BBC World Service radio report on the recent Radiohead concert in Tel Aviv inaccurately described that city as “the Israeli capital”.
After BBC Watch alerted the programme concerned to that inaccuracy, the wording was changed.
However, the edit does not include acknowledgement of the error and – in line with long-standing BBC policy – of course does not bother to inform those who previously read the misleading information that Jerusalem is in fact the capital of Israel.
As recorded in part one of this post, politically partisan terminology – that contradicts the BBC’s style guide and was first seen in BBC content in early November 2014 following the issue of a PLO ‘advisory’ document to members of the foreign media – recently reappeared in reports by the corporation’s Jerusalem bureau correspondent Yolande Knell.
Just hours after Knell told listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ on July 21st that the day’s rioting in Jerusalem and elsewhere was caused by the fact that Israel had placed metal detectors “at the entrance to the al Aqsa mosque compound“, a later edition of the same programme included a report on the same story from her colleague in Jerusalem, Tom Bateman.
The item (from 26:36 #playt=26m36s" rel="noopener" target="_blank">here) was introduced by presenter Rebecca Kesby – who either had no idea why the orchestrated violence took place or was deliberately promoting the false narrative that it was prompted by the age restrictions on access to Temple Mount that were in fact implemented after – and because of – the calls from Palestinian leaders for a ‘Day of Rage’.
Kesby: “…clashes in Jerusalem today over restricted access to religious sites. Palestinians are angry that many have been prevented from praying at the al Aqsa mosque. Many protested. Well let’s get the background to all of this now from the BBC’s Tom Bateman in Jerusalem.
Bateman: “Well I was down at the Old City just outside the ancient walls of Jerusalem when prayers were taking place after midday. Now this part of the Old City is where the compound is…the al Aqsa mosque is to be found. It’s the same site that Jews refer to as Temple Mount; the most revered site in Jerusalem.”
Notably, Bateman’s description of “the al Aqsa mosque” as being “the same site” as Temple Mount conforms to that 2014 PLO ‘media guidance’:
“In addition to promoting its preferred terminology “al Aqsa Mosque compound”, the PLO document from November 5th also states:
“Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, sometimes referred to as the Noble Sanctuary (“Haram al-Sharif” in Arabic), is the compound that contains Al Aqsa building itself, ablution fountains, open spaces for prayer, monuments and the Dome of the Rock building. This entire area enclosed by the walls which spans 144 dunums [sic] (almost 36 acres), forms the Mosque.” [emphasis added]”
Bateman went on: [emphasis in bold added, emphasis in italics in the original]
Bateman: “And normally you would see thousands of Muslims heading into the al Aqsa mosque compound. Now people were praying in their hundreds on the streets outside of the Old City walls and as we arrived there – many people had turned up – the police were blocking the road. They were preventing men under the age of 50 from going past those roadblocks. This was all after the killing last week of two Israeli police guards at the compound there. And the Israeli authorities have said that this was to do with maintaining security at the site – having the metal detectors there and the measures today to ban men under 50 – which they said were temporary. But all of this has created a real amount of anger among Palestinians, among Muslim religious leaders who called for this day of protest today.”
As we see, Bateman downgraded the ‘Day of Rage’ that was actually declared to a “day of protest” and failed to inform listeners that the attack on July 14th was an act of terrorism. He continued – giving an eye-witness account that notably erases the actions of the rioters:
Bateman: “Now before and after prayers took place there were some pretty angry confrontations. We saw stun grenades being fired. We saw people running from police officers on horseback. And shortly after that the tensions then spread to other parts of the city – to neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem – and in the last few hours the Palestinian Red Crescent has said that three people have been killed. They say there are 391 people hurt and they say nearly a hundred of those serious enough for people to have to have been taken to hospital.”
Kesby: “And as you say there, lots of complaints from the Palestinian side that the security forces have been heavy-handed. Is it your understanding that these measures in place at the moment after those deaths last week are temporary or could this be something that we see continuing?”
Bateman: “Well I think the Israeli authorities certainly were saying that the measures about preventing men under 50 from entering the site are temporary. As for the metal detectors at the site, well the police have said that weapons were smuggled into the compound before those three Arab Israelis carried out that attack last week. Now the point is that Palestinians – for whom the al Aqsa mosque is a crucially important site, not just to their faith but to their identity as well – that they fear that this may signal some kind of change; an assertion… a further assertion of Israeli control at the site there. And as international leaders appeal for calm in all this, I think that everybody realises and understands that tensions surrounding the al Aqsa mosque do have the potential to escalate.”
Notably, Bateman qualified his statement on the smuggling of firearms into al Aqsa mosque prior to the July 14th terror attack with the phrase “police have said” – despite the existence of video evidence. He then amplified Palestinian ‘fears’ without clarifying to listeners that they are baseless and without informing them that under the terms of the #_ch4" rel="noopener" target="_blank">existing arrangements, Israel is responsible for security at the site.
As we see, although Tom Bateman has only been based in Jerusalem for a couple of months, he has already ditched the BBC Academy style guide’s instruction on the correct terminology to be used when reporting on Temple Mount and – like his more veteran colleague Yolande Knell – has compromised BBC impartiality by adopting partisan language that endorses the political agenda of one side to a complex conflict.
Just over a year ago we documented changes in the terminology used by the BBC to describe Temple Mount.
“In late 2014, audiences began to see the employment of different terminology by some BBC journalists… […] the term ‘al Aqsa Mosque compound’ – or even just ‘al Aqsa Mosque’ – was employed to describe what the BBC previously called Haram al Sharif with increasing frequency from November 2014 onwards. […]
So how and why did that deviation from the BBC’s recommended terminology come about? As noted above, the change in language first appeared in November 2014. At the beginning of that month – on November 5th– the PLO put out a “media advisory” document (since removed from its website) informing foreign journalists of its “[c]oncern over the use of the inaccurate term “Temple Mount” to refer to Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem”. That directive is of course part and parcel of the PLO’s tactic of negation of #sthash.9pgb96VJ.dpuf" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Jewish history in Jerusalem.”
Following that post, the BBC largely returned to using the terminology specified in its own style guide. However, the employment of that PLO recommended wording has been seen once again in some of the BBC’s reporting on the recent violence in Jerusalem – including in a backgrounder produced by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell.
“Now the gate to the al Aqsa mosque compound is open once again but to reach it you have to pass through one of those metal detectors.” [emphasis added]
On July 21st an edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included an item (from 49:58 here) that was introduced by presenter Julian Marshall as follows: [emphasis in bold added, emphasis in italics in the original]
Marshall: “And to Jerusalem now where dozens of Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police amid tensions surrounding the holy site known to Muslims as the Haram al Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount. Our Mid-East correspondent Yolande Knell joins us now and, Yolande, why are the Palestinians protesting?”
Knell: “Well these clashes are continuing now after Friday prayers turned into protests. There have been tensions all week after Israeli officials put in place new metal detectors at the entrance to the al Aqsa mosque compound; this site which is sacred to Jews as well – known as Temple Mount. These detectors were installed after an attack that killed two Israeli policemen last week and Israel has been insisting that these new security measures are about safety only; they don’t alter the sensitive status quo, as it’s called, at this disputed site. But Palestinians see them very much as an attempt by Israel to extend its control there and of course…ehm…Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem is something…ehm…that is…err…really extremely…err…sensitive for Palestinians and any perceived changes at the al Aqsa mosque compound – at this holy site – can be a real flash-point for violence. We’ve seen that in the last few hours. There are now reports that a third Palestinian has been killed in these clashes between…err…protesters and Israeli security forces focused on Jerusalem but also around the West Bank. There have been clashes in Qalandiya checkpoint, in Ramallah, in Hebron and in Bethlehem where I was earlier, this after political factions called for a Day of Rage.”
Marshall: “And…erm…the metal detectors are not the only point of contention. I understand that there’s an age restriction at the moment on the number [sic] of Muslim worshippers who are allowed in.”
Knell: “Well that was something that was imposed for these Friday prayers. First of all, after this…eh….attack a week ago…ah…the Israeli authorities closed the whole compound for two days: this is something very unusual. Then, it has been opened through the week but Palestinians have been refusing to enter the compound, to go through these metal detectors and instead we’ve had hundreds of people praying on the street outside. So there have been clashes with police through the week. The restriction that was placed on today was that Muslim men under 50 were barred from entering the Old City of Jerusalem. There’s been this huge Israeli police presence all around the city and busloads of Muslim worshippers have been prevented from reaching it.”
As we see, in addition to promoting partisan PLO approved terminology to describe Temple Mount, Knell completely erased from her account of the installation of metal detectors the crucial fact that the three terrorists (whom she also deletes entirely from the story) who murdered the two Israeli policemen on July 14th did so using weapons which had been smuggled into al Aqsa mosque by an accomplice.
She also failed to explain to listeners what the ‘status quo’ on Temple Mount entails and to clarify that Palestinian claims of “changes” are baseless, while refraining from telling audiences about the copious incitement from the Waqf and official Palestinian sources that sparked the violence.
However, Knell was not the only Middle East correspondent to compromise BBC impartiality by prioritising PLO recommended language over the standard BBC terminology to describe Temple Mount in a report on July 21st – as will be seen in part two of this post.
Early on the morning of July 23rd a missile was fired from the Beit Hanoun region in the Gaza Strip towards Israel. While the missile was originally thought to have exploded in mid-air, its remnants were later found in Israeli territory.
“The IDF said Sunday that a rocket fired by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip at the Ashkelon coast overnight had landed in an open area of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. […]
There were no injuries or damage as a result of the incident, the army said in a statement.”
“A rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip early Monday morning and landed near the Gaza border fence in Israel’s southern Eshkol region.
The Israel Defense Forces said that there were no reported injuries or damages. Moreover, the “red alert” alarm that usually sounds fifteen seconds in advance of an incoming rocket before it lands, did not go off, which the IDF explained was a result of its heading towards an unpopulated area.
Nevertheless, the IDF conducted a search of the area shortly after the rocket landed. A little while later, an IDF tank fired on a Hamas position located in the southern Gaza Strip.”
Neither of those attacks received any coverage from the BBC.
Since the beginning of this year twelve separate incidents of missile fire from either the Gaza Strip or the Sinai Peninsula have taken place. The BBC’s English language services have not informed audiences of any of those attacks.
On Friday July 21st pre-planned rioting took place in Jerusalem as well as at additional locations after yet another ‘Day of Rage’ had been called by Palestinian leaders. The BBC News website covered the day’s events in two reports – one written and one filmed.
The filmed report by Yolande Knell is titled “Clashes in Bethlehem over holy site” and its synopsis links to the written report, telling viewers that “[i]t follows tension over the place known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, and to Jews as the Temple Mount”.
In the first part of that report Knell describes the Israeli security forces’ response to what she terms “protests”.
Knell: “Now those unusual prayers are turned into protests very quickly. Already there’s been skunk water fired – a very stinky liquid – by the soldiers. They’re using stun grenades and tear gas as well.”
After the caption “How did we get here?” appears on screen, the report then goes on to show footage apparently filmed some time earlier, with Knell telling BBC audiences that:
Knell: “Palestinian worshippers across the West Bank aren’t praying inside their mosques today but they’ve come outside. Here in Bethlehem they’re on the streets, under the hot sun with their prayer mats. And this is a very symbolically important location because just along there, that’s the road to Jerusalem and it’s now blocked by Israel’s separation wall. You can see the Israeli military watchtower that’s just over there.”
Knell refrains from informing viewers that the anti-terrorist fence (which of course has nothing at all to do with the story she is supposedly reporting) had to be constructed because of Palestinian terrorism. Her claim that the road to Jerusalem is “blocked” is misleading: the checkpoint there is open 24 hours a day. She then goes on to uncritically parrot Palestinian messaging.
Knell: “And the Friday sermon has been about the need to protect the al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock that lies in the same compound. There’s a model of it here. Palestinians see themselves very much as the guardians of these places – the third holiest site in Islam – and emotions are really running very high.”
Knell does not bother to clarify to viewers that there is in fact no need “to protect” the Muslim holy sites on Temple Mount at all before giving an unchallenged platform to an unidentified interviewee who is allowed on camera while wearing a t-shirt with a politicised image that erases Israel.
Man: “The Palestinians now took a decision to fight for their capital [sic], for their dignity. All the people who are coming here came to raise their voice. Jerusalem is a red line. We will not allow the occupation to pass this red line.”
Footage seen later in the video suggests that the unnamed man is one of the leaders/organisers of the unrest but seeing as the BBC did not bother to identify him, audiences are of course unable to make their own judgements concerning his “particular viewpoint” – not least the claim that Jerusalem, which is of course subject to final status negotiations, is the Palestinians’ “capital”.
That video was also included in the BBC’s written report on the same events – currently titled “East Jerusalem: Palestinians killed as holy site tensions soar“. The earlier versions of that report correctly informed readers that a ‘Day of Rage’ had been called in advance but that information was removed from subsequent versions.
The article explains the background to its subject matter as follows:
“Hundreds were injured in the violence, after days of friction over a Jerusalem holy site boiled over. […]
Tensions have soared since two Israeli policemen were killed a week ago.
Three Israeli Arab gunmen shot the officers near the holy site known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount. The gunmen were shot dead after being pursued on to the site.”
And later on in the report readers were told that: [emphasis added]
“In the wake of the killing of the police last Friday, Israel installed metal detectors at entrances to the holy site. The move, however, drew an angry reaction from Palestinian and Islamic leaders who say it is a violation of the status quo. […]
Israel says the measure is necessary for security after the weapons used to kill the policemen were smuggled into the hilltop compound. […]
Israel has repeatedly pledged to maintain the status quo – a delicate set of arrangements in place at the site for the past 50 years. Any changes there are often regarded by Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a sought-after state, as a violation of these arrangements.”
However, the BBC did not bother to inform its audiences what the status quo entails or that, despite what “Palestinian and Islamic leaders” may say, the installation of security measures after terrorists had weapons delivered to them inside al Aqsa mosque does not violate #_ch4" rel="noopener" target="_blank">the existing arrangements which include the following:
“The Waqf, as an arm of the Jordanian Ministry of Sacred Properties, would continue to administer the site and would be responsible for the religious and civil arrangements concerning the Temple Mount.
The Israeli Police would be responsible for security within the holy compound, the interior area and its outskirts, the wall and the gates.”
This is of course not the first time that the BBC has referred to ‘the status quo’ on Temple Mount without properly explaining to audiences what that term actually means.
Additional recent BBC reports also amplified Palestinian messaging without clarification or qualification. An article that appeared on the BBC News website on July 22nd under the headline “Jerusalem: Metal detectors at holy site ‘could be removed’” failed to inform readers that installation of the metal detectors came after firearms were smuggled into al Aqsa mosque.
“Israel installed the detectors after two Israeli policemen were killed near there earlier this month.”
It then unquestioningly amplified baseless Palestinian claims:
“The measures angered the Palestinians, who accuse Israel of trying to take control over a sacred place.”
Another article – published on July 23rd under the title “Jerusalem: Israel installs security cameras near holy site” – also amplified baseless claims while failing to provide readers with the information that would enable them to judge the validity of such allegations.
“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.”
The BBC is obliged to “provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them”. The unchallenged amplification of one side’s baseless allegations and the repeated failure to properly explain the issues behind such highly inflammatory subject matter obviously do not meet that obligation.
The BBC’s Martin Patience recently announced his upcoming relocation to Beirut on Twitter.
One story already waiting for him in Beirut (that has not been covered by the BBC to date) is that of the reportsconcerning alleged Iranian-built underground missile factories in Lebanon that have been around for some months.
The Times of Israel brings further information.
“The Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group is constructing at least two underground facilities in Lebanon for manufacturing missiles and other weaponry, according to a report by the French Intelligence Online magazine. […]
Sources told the French industry magazine that one of the factories is being built in northern Lebanon, near the town of Hermel in the eastern Bekaa Valley. The second facility is reportedly being constructed along the southern coast, between the towns of Sidon and Tyre.
According to Intelligence Online, the Hermel facility is being used to produce the Fateh 110, a medium-range missile. The southern facility, meanwhile, will be used to make smaller munitions.”
The Tower adds:
“The Iranian general who first revealed the existence of the factories said that they were built because Israel had destroyed munitions factories in Sudan and hit weapons convoys in Syria en route to Hezbollah.
Iran is banned from exporting weapons by the United Nations Security Council, and is specifically forbidden from arming Hezbollah by Security Council resolution 1701.”
The BBC’s record of reporting Hizballah’s violations of UNSC resolution 1701, it is of course very dismal. Whether or not it will improve with Martin Patience’s arrival in Beirut and audiences will finally get to hear about this story and others remains to be seen.
On June 20th the BBC finally broke its silence on the topic of the faux outrage at the security measures installed after the July 14thterror attack in Jerusalem when the BBC News website published a filmed backgrounder that was billed on its Middle East page as “Holy site metal detector row explained”.
The link leads to a video titled “Jerusalem holy site security row explained” and its synopsis reads:
“There is anger over security at the Jerusalem holy site where two Israeli police officers were killed.”
The video includes both text and commentary from the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell – but does it really explain the issue comprehensively, accurately and impartially? The backgrounder opens:
Text: “What started the latest tensions over Jerusalem’s holy site? Protesters are furious with Israel for tightening security at one of Islam’s holiest places.”
The fact that Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism is not mentioned.
Knell: “For Palestinians, anything seen as a threat to al Aqsa mosque is a rallying cry and a symbol of Israel’s occupation.”
While Yolande Knell amplifies the baseless propaganda concerning “a threat to al Aqsa mosque”, she does not bother to inform viewers that in fact, no such threat exists.
Text: “Israeli soldiers are responding with tear gas. Unusually, Israel closed the site after two of its police officers were shot dead by armed men inside the mosque grounds.”
The backgrounder does not clarify that the incident (that took place at Lions Gate rather than “inside the mosque grounds”) in which the two Israeli police officers were murdered was a terror attack. Critically, viewers are not told that the terrorists used weapons that they received from an accomplice inside al Aqsa mosque. Without that crucial information, BBC audiences obviously cannot understand why the metal detectors were subsequently installed.
Knell then reverts to politicised terminology seen previously in BBC reporting:
Knell: “Now the gate to the al Aqsa mosque compound is open once again but to reach it you have to pass through one of those metal detectors. Israel says it’s a safety issue. Palestinians say until those are removed, they’re going to pray outside.” [emphasis added]
Knell does not clarify that some worshippers are not heeding the call to pray outside and have been using the mosque as usual despite the metal detectors. Neither does she tell BBC audiences that the call to boycott the mosque was actually put out by the Jordanian Waqf. Viewers are not told that non-Muslim visitors to the site (entering via the Mughrabi Gate) already pass through metal detectors, as do all visitors to the Western Wall.
Text: “Why does the site matter? This is a holy site for Muslims, Jews and Christians. Jews call it Temple Mount – the site of two biblical temples. They can visit – but cannot pray. Could the violence escalate? Yes. Washington supports Israel’s response but there’s been criticism from the wider Islamic world.”
BBC audiences are not given the context that is the long history of Palestinian and Arabincitement using the al Aqsa mosque as a pretext for violence. Neither are they informed that previous internationally brokered attempts to improve security at the site and prevent the exploitation of al Aqsa mosque for violent ends were scuppered by the Palestinians.
This story is of course about far more than the installation of a few metal detectors of the type seen at places – including Muslim holy sites – all over the world. Rather, the latest contrived “row” is just one more attempt by Palestinian leaders to negate the presence of Jews at their holiest site, using a pretext that those who fabricate the crisis know only too well is bound to trigger violence.
BBC audiences, however, are by no stretch of the imagination being told the whole story.
“According to a preliminary investigation, the terrorist, a Palestinian in his late teens from a nearby village, arrived in the settlement on foot armed with a knife, climbed a fence and chose the last house on a street near it.
The perpetrator broke a window and entered the home, surprising a family of about 10 inside as they were finishing their dinner, and launched his stabbing spree.
During the attack, another daughter hid several of the grandchildren in one of the rooms, where she called police and began shouting that a terrorist was inside the home.
Paramedics said the victims, a father in his 60s, his son in his 40s, and his daughter in her 40s, died of their wounds.
The mother, in her 60s, was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem in serious condition.
Palestinian media identified the terrorist as Omar al-Abed, 19, from the village of Kaubar, near Ramallah.
An IDF soldier on leave in a nearby home responded to the screams and shot and wounded Abed through his window, according to Magen David Adom rescue service officials. An MDA paramedic at the scene told The Times of Israel the attacker was wounded by the shooting and was evacuated to hospital in moderate condition.
In initial questioning, Abed said he bought the knife two days ago, wanting to commit a terror attack because of events surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.”
Roughly two hours after the attack took place the BBC News website published the first version of its report on the incident. Neither in the headline – “Three Israelis stabbed to death in West Bank attack” – nor in the body of the article did the BBC describe the incident as a terror attack.
As has been the case in the past, the report did however take care to inform readers of the BBC’s preferred political classification of the location of the incident.
“Three Israeli civilians have been stabbed to death in a settlement near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.” [emphasis added]
Halamish is of course located in Area C, the final status of which – according to the Oslo Accords that were signed by the Palestinians – is to be determined in negotiations.
The first two versions of the report told readers that:
“The attack came near the end of a day of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces over new security measures at a Jerusalem holy site.”
Only in version three was some partial context to those security measures revealed.
“Israel says the extra security is needed after two Israeli policemen were killed near the site a week ago.”
Readers were not informed of the crucial point that the policemen were murdered by terrorists using weapons brought into Temple Mount by a third party.
“On Friday, four Israeli civilians were stabbed in Halamish (also known as Neve Tsuf) after “an assailant infiltrated a private home”, the Israeli army said.
Israeli media reported the victims were a man in his sixties and his son and daughter, both in their forties. Another woman in her sixties is being treated in hospital for injuries sustained in the incident.”
No mention was made in the BBC’s report of praise for the attackfromHamas (of which the corporation’s staff was clearlyaware), from the Palestinian Authority president’s party Fatah or from ordinary Palestinians who celebrated the murders on the streets.
Readers of the article were informed that:
“The Israeli army said the attacker was a young Palestinian man called Omar al-Abed, who hours before the attack, posted on Facebook linking his actions to events at Jerusalem’s holy site.”
However, as usual they were not provided with any additional information which would contribute to their understanding of how incitement from official Palestinian sources, including Fatah, encourages such acts of terror.
“Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”
While at least one BBC journalist was aware of photographs that emerged from the scene of the attack, the BBC preferred to illustrate its early versions of the article with a pastoral image of Halamish, later adding a photo of an ambulance crew evacuating the wounded victim.
The report was further amended the next day to include allegations of ‘collective punishment’.
“Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman also said they were taking steps to prepare the Palestinian attacker’s house for demolition – a measure regularly taken by Israel, which says it is a deterrent, but condemned by rights groups as collective punishment.”
In light of the long-standing double standard in language used when reporting acts of terror against Israelis, it is sadly unsurprising to see the BBC refusing to use the word terror to describe the brutal murders of members of a family doing no more than enjoying dinner in their own home – just as it has in the past refused to use the same term to describe Israelis murdered in their own beds, Israelis praying in their local synagogue or an Israeli painting her own front door.
As predictable as that BBC practice is, it becomes no less repugnant and offensive with time.