Context-free reporting on the BBC News website

The BBC News website Middle East section published the article below on November 8th at 19:49 GMT.

The report’s distinguishing features are its lack of concrete facts and context.

The headline reads “Gaza: Palestinian boy ‘killed by Israeli gunfire’ “, with the inverted commas presumably intended to inform the reader that its writer cannot be sure of that information.

The strap-line reads “A Palestinian boy has been killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources say“.

Next, we learn that:

“The boy, reportedly aged 13, was hit by shots from an army helicopter, the sources said.

The Israeli army said it was checking the report, Israeli media said.”

Towards the end of the report, the picture becomes even less clear:

“It was unclear how the boy was hit in Thursday’s incident, but one report said soldiers had found explosive devices near a border fence east of the town of Khan Younis and opened fire.

Another report said the boy was fatally wounded during a clash involving militants and Israeli helicopters.”

[all emphasis added]

So are readers any the wiser as to what happened in Khan Yunis on Thursday? Not really – but they are clearly intended to take away the impression that a Palestinian boy (named as Hamid Younis Abu Dika, or Daqqa, and in some Palestinian reports aged 11) was somehow killed by the Israeli army, with the reporting of any accompanying context apparently being considered of less urgency by the BBC. 

What the BBC article fails to report fully is the following

“Earlier on Thursday, IDF soldiers exchanged fire with Palestinian terrorists from Gaza.

According to initial reports, a work crew came under fire near Kibbutz Nirim on the Gaza border and the soldiers returned fire.

Tanks and attack helicopters were dispatched to the scene and opened fire toward suspicious areas.”

That incident was claimed by the Popular Resistance Committees. The website of the PRC’s ‘Salah a Din Brigades’ also takes credit for mortar fire at IDF forces.

Later on Thursday evening, an Israeli soldier was wounded by an explosion claimed by Hamas (and described as an IED) in ‘response’ to the boy’s death. 

IDF troops had entered the Gaza Strip after the discovery of a large underground cross-border tunnel packed with explosives. 

“Israeli ground forces entered the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening after finding a large tunnel filled with explosives running beneath the border fence with the Hamas-controlled enclave.

Soldiers conducting routine patrols of the border near the town of Nirim found a smuggling tunnel 4 meters deep and almost 5 meters wide burrowed beneath the border, the IDF Spokesperson said.

Nirim was the scene earlier in the day of an incident in which terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired on a work crew and IDF troops returned fire.

The patrol that discovered the tunnel crossed into the Gaza Strip to search for explosives, and, on their return, while repairing the border fence, an “extremely large” amount of explosives detonated on the Gaza side of the border. One soldier was very lightly injured, and an IDF jeep was damaged by the blast that reportedly launched it 20 meters.”

Whilst the exact circumstances of Hamid Younis Abu Dika’s injury remain at present unknown, what is obvious is that there is considerably more context to the story than the BBC’s account makes clear. The decision by terrorist factions in the Gaza Strip to launch repeated attacks on IDF border patrols and maintenance crews inevitably endangers civilians in the area and that point is not made adequately clear in BBC reports.  

Update: 

As pointed out in the comments below (thank you, Sue), the BBC report has been revised since this article was published. The newer version can be found here.

 

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