BBC promotes same inaccuracy for a third time

The BBC News website’s Middle East page is currently featuring a section dedicated to what it terms the ‘Arab uprisings’. 

hp special feature

The lower ‘Special Reports’ section leads to this page, which at its head features the same item as the ‘Features & Analysis’ section at the right side of the homepage. 

10 key moments

The item is about Jeremy Bowen’s selected “10 most important moments” in the past two years across the Arab world. As may be expected, the report features events such as the flight of Ben Ali from Tunisia and the fall of Mubarak and Ghaddafi. But “moment” number ten may come as something as a surprise because, apparently, one of the Arab world’s most important moments in the last 24 months during which tens of thousands of people have been killed by their compatriots is none other than the “Israel-Gaza conflict”. 

The section begins by claiming:

“Israel launched its latest offensive against Hamas in Gaza on 14 November.”

This interpretation of events of course ignores the fact that – contrary to the implication – Israel did not suddenly wake up in a grumpy mood on November 14th and decide to launch “its latest offensive”. Prior to that date, a serious escalation of security incidents including  rocket fire from the Gaza Strip took place with 105 rockets and 12 mortars hitting Israeli territory in the week October 24th to 29th, three Israeli soldiers wounded by an IED on November 6th, another incident involving an IED and an explosion in a tunnel on November 8th, an anti-tank missile fired at a jeep on the Israeli side of the border on November 10th and 121 rockets landing in Israel between November 10th and 13th alone. 

As this site stated on November 11th

“If and when a substantial Israeli response comes, however, the BBC’s audience will have little idea of its context.”

Notably, the BBC continues to ensure that is the case.

Bowen’s article continues:

“It was the first flare-up between Israel and the Palestinians since the Arab uprisings started to change the Middle East.”

The accuracy of that statement depends upon one’s interpretation of the definition of a “flare-up”. Apparently the BBC’s Middle East Editor does not consider the 975 rockets fired at Israeli civilians between the beginning of 2011 and the start of Operation ‘Pillar of Cloud’ to come into that category. 

rocket fire since 2011

Neither, apparently, do other forms of terror attacks on Israelis, such as the one which took place near Eilat on August 18th 2011, count as a “flare-up”: that description only enters the BBC lexicon when Israel responds to Palestinian acts.

Bowen continues:

“It showed just how much the constellation of forces in the region had shifted. Hamas celebrated the public backing of Turkey, Egypt and other Arab states.”

Hamas also had that same “public backing” during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/9, but as was the case then, there is still a big difference between predictable rhetoric which often plays primarily to a home crowd and concrete, practical support. With the exception of Iran, Hamas does not manage to rally the latter, even from its closest friends in the Arab and Islamic world.

Bowen then claims that:

“Israel once again enjoyed Western support, and showed its military strength, but it found its freedom to act cramped by the new political realities of the Middle East.”

Seeing as it can be assumed with some degree of certainty that the BBC’s Middle East Editor was not privy to the deliberations regarding a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip either in the Israeli Cabinet or the IDF’s higher echelons, one can perhaps best categorise that particular piece of ‘analysis’ as wishful thinking on Bowen’s part. 

Accompanying Bowen’s ‘analysis’ is film footage which will be familiar to BBC Watch readers. It is that historically incorrect report by Wyre Davies which was first broadcast on November 21st and then subsequently upgraded to the category of analysis a few days later,  in which Davies promotes the trope that terrorists fire rockets into Israel because of “frustration” with the partial blockade on the Gaza Strip.

“If there’s to be a lasting truce, this destructive cycle has to be broken. At the end of a conflict, Gaza is allowed to rebuild its institutions and infrastructure but – increasingly frustrated with the Israeli blockade and all of its restrictions – Palestinian militants fire more and more rockets into Israel. Then there’s an overwhelming Israeli military response and much of what has been built up is destroyed.”

As we wrote when this report was first aired:

“In other words, Davies is telling viewers that the rockets are a result of the blockade, rather than citing the historical facts which prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that the rockets began to be used by Hamas and its affiliates as a means of terrorizing the Israeli civilian population a whole six and a half years before the blockade came into being.”

The repetition of an inaccuracy over and over again does not render it any less inaccurate. 

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