By Hadar Sela
The BBC News website’s main article on the second day of Operation Protective Edge – July 9th – underwent amendment numerous times (available to view here) until reaching its fourteenth and final version. Currently going under the title “Hamas fires rockets amid Israeli air strikes on Gaza,” its first four versions were titled “Hamas fires rockets at Israeli cities after Gaza offensive”, thus misleadingly suggesting to BBC audiences that the firing of missiles by terrorists from the Gaza Strip is a response to Israeli actions, rather than the exact opposite, which is actually the case.
The first eleven versions of that article used the sub-heading “War crime” – as did the previous day’s main report – in the section of the report relating to the incident on the morning of July 8th in Khan Younis in which Palestinians acting as ‘human shields’ were killed after a warning had been given to the building’s occupants to vacate the premises.
The report’s final version was not updated to include accurate figures.
“Israel said it had intercepted 15 rockets on Wednesday, including eight over Tel Aviv, Ashkelon and Ashdod.” […]
“It [the IDF] said 117 rockets had hit Israel on Tuesday, with the Iron Dome interceptor system shooting down 20. Three rockets landed around Jerusalem.” […]
“Some 48 rockets were fired at Israel on Wednesday, the military said. Iron Dome intercepted two rockets above Tel Aviv on Wednesday morning, three over Ashkelon and three over Ashdod.
The town of Hadera 100km (60 miles) north of Gaza, was also attacked, with an M-302 surface-to-surface rocket, the furthest target so far reached.”
The figures provided by the IDF are actually as follows:
Tuesday July 8: 117 missiles fired from the Gaza Strip hit Israel. A further 29 (not 20 as the BBC claims) were intercepted.
Wednesday July 9: 90 missiles (not 48 as the BBC claims) fired from the Gaza Strip hit Israel. A further 24 (not 15 as claimed by the BBC) were intercepted.
No explanation is provided to readers regarding the origins of that M-302 missile that hit Hadera and they are not informed that a shipment of such Syrian-made missiles was intercepted as recently as March of this year, nor of Iran’s role in the smuggling of such weapons to the Gaza Strip.
With regard to Palestinian casualties, this report does at least acknowledge that some are not civilians, although it does not inform readers that they are terrorists.
“Reports from Gaza said at least eight people had been killed in the latest Israeli air strikes.
Gaza officials say 35 Palestinians have now died in the recent hostilities, with 150 more injured.
The officials say half of the casualties are civilians, a number of them women and children.”
Under the sub-heading ‘No safe haven,’ the report promotes and amplifies what the BBC knows full well to be a baseless allegation from an official belonging to what it equally well knows is a politically motivated NGO.
“The head of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, Raji Sourani, accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians.
He told the BBC: “There is no safe haven in this place and Palestinian civilians are once again in the eye of the storm and are paying heavily. Israelis.. are trying to pressure militant groups through targeting civilians.”” [emphasis added]
A report produced by UN OCHA on the same day as this article was published – July 9 – clearly states regarding the subject of civilian casualties:
“In most cases, prior to the attacks, residents have been warned to leave, either via phone calls by the Israel military or by the firing of warning missiles.”
In fact, the IDF usually used both methods of prior warning, as well as leafleting. No effort is made by the BBC, however, to inform audiences of those attempts to safeguard civilians. Likewise, no attempt is made to clarify to readers that the residential buildings targeted are dual-use buildings that also serve as command and control centres for terrorist organisations and/or missile launching/storage.
Equally absent from this BBC report – and others – is clarification to audiences on the issue of Hamas’ use of ‘human shields’: a practice which of course deliberately escalates the number of civilian casualties for propaganda purposes. Below is an interview dating from the first day of the operation – July 8th – on Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV with Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zukhri in which – instead of urging civilians to take cover, he promotes the ‘human shield’ strategy.
Nor is any mention made of the practice by Hamas and other terrorist organisations of storing and firing missiles in residential areas, thus endangering the local population.
Another notable aspect of this BBC report is its very brief and anodyne reference to the part being played by the Palestinian Authority in current events.
“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded that Israel immediately stop the raids on Gaza and appealed for calm.”
The BBC does not inform audiences that Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party has posted incitement and inflammatory messaging on its social media accounts or that Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have claimed responsibility for some of the hundreds of missiles fired at Israeli civilian targets.
So as we see, in addition to amplifying Hamas propaganda on “war crimes” and the false claim that Israel deliberately targets civilians, this article deliberately avoids telling BBC audiences about a whole variety of issues of which they need to be informed in order to fully understand the subject to which the report supposedly relates.