BBC’s Donnison suggests rioters may be farmers… or scrap metal collectors

This is a picture taken around midday local time from the Israeli side of the border between Israel and Gaza where, until less than 48 hours ago, fierce fighting was taking place. 

It shows some of a group of around 300 Palestinians involved in creating a disturbance along the border fence, including stone-throwing, causing damage to the fence and attempts to breach the border. One man did get into Israel and was later returned to Gaza. Another man was shot and killed after ignoring warning shots into the air.

Footage from the other side of the fence can be seen in Jon Donnison’s report on the incident (also apparently broadcast on BBC television news) here

Both in the voice-over to the video and in the text below the report, Donnison repeats unsubstantiated Palestinian claims that the mob were actually “farmers trying to get into their land”. The written article also has an additional version to the story:

 “Eyewitnesses said the group were farmers, while Gaza health official Adnan Abu Salmia said they had been trying to retrieve parts from a damaged Israeli jeep inside the off-limits area.”

In his commentary Donnison states that: [emphasis added]

“I should say that before this big escalation in the last eight days or so, people getting shot on the Palestinian side around the border was a pretty regular occurrence. Erm..Israel says it has imposed a unilaterally declared exclusion zone 300 meters from the fence. It regularly opens fire for what it calls security reasons. Palestinians will say this is stealing their land and that they often fire beyond that 300 meter distance.”

Donnison also reported the events on Twitter, including promotion of a previous article of his which, whilst having nothing to do with the day’s events, reinforces the theme he tries to advance in the commentary to the video.

Donnison’s choice of wording – “It [Israel] regularly opens fire for what it calls security reasons” – is clearly intended to cast doubt upon the veracity Israeli security concerns.

He completely neglects to mention any of the recent Palestinian attempts to breach the border fence, tunnel-digging beneath the border, cross-border shooting and missile attacks and the laying of IEDs which, together with incessant rocket fire on civilians in Israel, preceded Operation ‘Pillar of Cloud’.

However, with Donnison and his colleagues having spent the past ten days or so trying to convince audiences that the recent escalation began with the targeted killing of Ahmed Jabari, it is hardly surprising that he should continue to downplay or ignore the significance of security events along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, instead preferring to promote versions of far-fetched stories about poor Palestinian farmers and scrap metal collectors – apparently conveniently equipped with either video cameras of their own or en-suite news crews.  

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