BBC reports (sort of) from Kiryat Malachi

On November 15th the BBC finally ventured out and made its way to the region of Israel under rocket fire. In this interview, which appears to have been broadcast on television news, the BBC’s Ben Brown interviews an officer from the Home Front Command about the tragic incident in which three people were killed in Kiryat Malachi by a direct missile hit on an apartment block. 

But Ben Brown’s interest in Israelis killed, injured or constantly menaced by rocket attacks soon wanes. Only one minute and 45 seconds into the interview, he launches into the following diatribe:

“I mean people are clearly terrified here – you can’t blame them – erm –but people equally, Palestinians, are terrified inside Gaza when they see your war planes coming in carrying out air-strikes and killing people. We know that the Hamas military leader was killed yesterday, but there were children killed as well.”

There’s ‘BBC reporting from Israel’ for you.  

But Ben Brown wasn’t the only BBC journalist in Kiryat Malachi that day. Yolande Knell of the BBC Jerusalem Bureau was also there, although BBC Radio 4 did appear to think she was somewhere else as its ‘Today’ programme presenter described her as being “on the Israeli – Gaza border” – which is in fact some 33 kilometers away from Kiryat Malachi. 

But that report from Israel – which can be listened to here – did not shed much light on what it is like for Israeli civilians under rocket fire either. In fact it rapidly turned into yet another BBC story about a BBC journalist: a report on Yolande Knell under incoming rocket fire.

Knell’s description of the ‘Colour Red’ alert is bizarre to say the least for a woman whose profession deals with words: [emphasis added]

“..the sirens sort of usually indicate that there are rockets coming in from Gaza..”

During part of Operation Cast Lead in 2009 I happened to be in the UK and of course followed the news on the BBC closely. I often remarked then that any BBC viewer who is not familiar with Israel must believe that only politicians, government spokesmen and army personnel live there – because I never saw an ordinary Israeli citizen interviewed by the BBC.

Old habits seem to die hard: two BBC reports from a town in which three people were killed only hours earlier and not one ordinary Israeli voice is given air-time. 


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