Guardian’s David Batty ignores reports that no humanitarian aid was on board Gaza-bound ship

In her latest BBC Watch report, Hadar Sela commented on an Oct. 21 BBC report about the the latest attempt by anti-Israel activists to break Israel’s legal naval blockade of Gaza.

The ship, organized by the Swedish group ‘Ship to Gaza’, called the ‘Estelle‘, which left from Italy on October 7, was boarded near Gaza by the Israeli Navy yesterday, Oct. 20, and led to the port of Ashdod, after passengers refused radio calls by the IDF to change course.

The BBC’s report included the following passage:

“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.” [emphasis added]

As Sela pointed out, however, the BBC piece didn’t mention reports that IDF personnel who inspected the Finnish-flagged ship said that there were, in fact, no humanitarian supplies on board.  This information, which contradicted the activists’ claims, was reported in the media on Oct. 20, hours after the ship was boarded.

Sure enough, the Guardian’s report on Israel’s interception of the Estelle similarly misled readers about the supplies on board.

David Batty’s Guardian report, titled Gaza-bound ship Estelle intercepted by Israeli forces, Oct. 21, included following passage:

“The Estelle is carrying 30 activists from Europe, Canada and Israel, humanitarian cargo such as cement, and goodwill items such as children’s books.” [emphasis added]

Interestingly, the Guardian contributor not only included information on the alleged “humanitarian cargo”, but didn’t even qualify the passage so that readers would understand that reports of such aid were merely based on the  claims of activists.  Batty reported the presence of humanitarian aid on the ship as if it was undisputed, despite the fact that, presumably, there was no independent source to verify such claims at the time he filed his report.

While the BBC and the Guardian both failed to provide readers with broader context about the Estelle – such as the fact that there is actually no “humanitarian crisis” in the Hamas-run territory to begin with – basic journalistic standards at least require that information which is reported be balanced, based on evidence, and include the source of their information.

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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