Which sources does the BBC Jerusalem Bureau use?

Visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page will notice among the articles concerning Israel a video report by Wyre Davies on the subject of the exchange of fire in the Golan Heights on November 12th, as well as a report on the continued rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Wyre Davies’ report, entitled “Israeli tanks ‘hit Syrian units “, appears to have been broadcast on BBC domestic news programmes. 

As well as the obvious – and by now pretty predictable – ‘last-first’ headline, which places the accent on the Israeli response rather than on the incident which caused it, the report has Wyre Davies telling viewers that:

“We understand there is quite a lot of military activity on the ground and in the air…”

And:

“…the Israeli military is in the area in large numbers, we understand”

The use of the word ‘understand’ suggests that neither Davies nor any of his extensive Jerusalem Bureau team were actually present in the Golan at the time, and his source for the information is not disclosed. But the addition of those two sentences to the report certainly adds tension to it and affords support to Davies’ opening claim that “this is a significant development”. 

There is, however, just one problem. Davies’ source apparently forgot to inform him that a large-scale military exercise – entirely unconnected to the border events, planned a long time in advance and announced on national radio stations – took place yesterday (November 12th) in the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee. 

It was, therefore, to be expected that there would be “quite a lot of military activity” in the area and Davies’ attempt to connect that to the Syrian breaches of border integrity is inaccurate.

Down on the south-western front where, as of Tuesday morning, the rocket fire at civilian communities continues, the BBC has finally managed to come up with an accurate headline. 

Further down the article, however, we read the following: [emphasis added]

“Militant factions, excluding Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said they fired the latest round of rockets. Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks emanating from there.”

One wonders how this latest BBC attempt to exonerate Hamas from responsibility for the deliberate targeting of civilians with military-grade weapons managed to ignore the various statements and articles put out by Hamas itself.

The lack of accuracy of both the above reports raises questions as to the nature of the sources upon which the BBC Jerusalem Bureau relies for information which it then transmits to the general public.

Then again, perhaps those questions are actually not too difficult to answer

For more on Donnison’s Twitter buddy – and apparent source of information – read here, here , here and here.  

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