BBC ‘tidies up’ Fatah celebrations

Fatah has been marking an anniversary this week, although the BBC only got round to reporting on the subject on Friday, January 4th when a rally was held in Gaza. 

hp 4 01

The BBC’s coverage included a television report by Wyre Davies, an article on the BBC News website and an “In Pictures” feature.

In all three items, it is stated that the rally marks the 48th anniversary of the founding of Fatah. 

TV report 4 01

Article 4 01

in pictures 4 01

That theme was also promoted by the BBC’s man in Gaza, Rushdi Abualouf:

Fatah Gaza 2

Readers familiar with the history of the Middle East will no doubt now be scratching their heads because of course Fatah was not founded 48 years ago in 1965, but in 1959. What Fatah is in fact celebrating is the 48th anniversary of its first armed attack on Israel which took place on January 1st 1965, but the BBC apparently does not consider that a ‘need to know’ fact for its audiences.

The latest amendment to the BBC News online article states that:

 “Fatah organisers decided to end speeches early due to “the huge number of participants and logistical failures”, Yahiya Rabah, a Fatah official in Gaza, was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.

There were reports of clashes between rival Fatah factions, but none of violence between Hamas and Fatah supporters.”

Other sources indicate that AP actually expanded on the subject of those “clashes” – information which the BBC apparently did not deem necessary to include in its own report: 

“Yahiya Rabah, a top Fatah official in Gaza, said the rally was cancelled “due to the huge number of participants and logistical failures.”

But witnesses said one pushing match was between supporters of Abbas and partisans of Fatah’s former Gaza security commander Mohammed Dahlan, who was expelled from the party because of conflicts with Abbas.

Another Fatah official, who spoke anonymously because he did not want to embarrass the party, said the rally was cancelled because hundreds of Dahlan supporters jumped up on the stage and clashed with Abbas supporters.

Fatah spokesman Fayez Abu Etta attributed the injuries to overcrowding and the excitement of the rally. Later, more Palestinians were injured when part of a stage collapsed. Youths also clashed and stabbings were reported. Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said overall 55 people were injured, including three critically.

There was one death during the rally: A 23-year-old Fatah activist was electrocuted while trying to hang a flag on an electric pole.”

The BBC’s reports, however, are nothing but pastoral in tone, focusing upon images of yellow flags in the sunshine and the much-touted ‘reconciliation’ between Fatah and Hamas. The BBC’s report of the video address (from Ramallah) to the rally by Mahmoud Abbas states:

“In a pre-recorded message played on giant screens, President Abbas said: “Victory is near and we will meet you in Gaza in the near future,” AFP news agency reported.

“Gaza was the first Palestinian territory rid of [Israeli] occupation and settlement and we want a lifting of the blockade so that it can be free and linked to the rest of the nation,” he said from his West Bank power-base.”

However, the BBC fails to mention other aspects of Abbas’ speech, including his lack of distinction between Jerusalem as a whole and the eastern neighbourhoods of the city where the PA is said to aspire to establish the capital of a future Palestinian state: 

“Our people are living under an occupation and a siege and our mission is to unite our efforts to save our capital Jerusalem,” he said. “But victory is coming and we will see in soon, in Gaza.”

“He went on to praise the various Fatah “shahids” – militants who died a “martyr’s” death and made it a point to offer similar praise to Hamas militants who were killed, as well as prominent operatives in the other Palestinian factions.”

Among those terror leaders praised by Abbas were Hamas founders Ahmed Yassin and Abed Aziz al Rantissi as well as the founder of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Fathi Shiqaqi

Notably absent over the past few days has been any BBC coverage of the rallies held by Fatah in PA-controlled areas earlier in the week. On January 3rd a rally was held in Nablus (Schem) and in the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, masked armed members of Fatah paraded through the streets undisturbed by PA security forces, as can be seen in this video.

Fatah rally Dheisheh

Licence fee-payers might consider it the obligation of a media organization committed to increasing its audience’s understanding of world events to fully report terror-glorifying parades and rallies – especially those organized by the faction which is supposed to be one half of the Middle East peace process.

Apparently, the BBC does not. Instead it condescendingly ‘tidies up’ events to present a sanitized view of the Palestinian street (literally and figuratively) to audiences around the world.  

Related post: What Jon Donnison did not report about the Hamas rally in Nablus

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