BBC website still claims ‘Estelle’ carrying aid

On Saturday, October 20th 2012, the Israeli Navy prevented the latest attempt by anti-Israel activists – including Dror Feiler – to break the naval blockade on Gaza aboard a Finnish-flagged boat. 

Upon the boat’s arrival in Ashdod port around 9 pm Israeli time (7 pm GMT/ 8 pm BST) on October 20th,it was quickly established – and widely reported – that it was carrying no humanitarian aid whatsoever. 

However, the BBC’s report on the incident – even after having been updated almost six hours later at 00:58 GMT on October 21st – still states that: 

“The Estelle, which activists say is carrying cement, basketballs, musical instruments, and 30 doves, is the latest vessel to try and break the Gaza blockade.”

One trusts that a correction will be speedily made.

The BBC report also presents a form of severely ‘dumbed-down’ commentary on the subject of the naval blockade itself.

“Palestinians say Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip amounts to collective punishment to residents of the densely populated strip of land along the Mediterranean coast.

Israel says the blockade aims to stop the supply of arms or other items for military use, and to put pressure on the Hamas administration.”

In fairness, if the reader bothers to click on one of the links below the headline of the article on the ‘Estelle’, he or she will arrive at an old article from June 2012 in which a link does exist to the UN-commissioned Palmer Report of September 2011 which confirmed the legality and legitimacy of Israel’s naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. 

However, in the current article itself no reference is made to the Palmer Report and in the ‘More on This Story’ section below the article, the only reference to the blockade comes under ‘Guides’ in the form of an article which pre-dates the UN report by over a year. 

The fact that over a year ago the UN established the legality and legitimacy of the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip should surely be an integral part of a story concerning a boat trying to break it. At the very least, an easily visible link to the Palmer report with a short explanation should be provided below the article – especially if the article’s editor wishes to adhere to the BBC Editors’ claim that: 

“… our strategy is to supplement our news coverage by providing detailed background on BBC News Online. It has the space to carry more information than broadcast news programmes, helping readers to understand the political, historical or economic background to an event.”

UPDATE: We recently came across the following Tweet by IDF Spokesperson Avital Liebovitch regarding the contents on board the Estelle.

[tweet https://twitter.com/AvitalLeibovich/status/260081279284961281]

We’ll update this story as more information becomes available.

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