Hiding behind ‘impartiality’: BBC casts doubts on real aim of Israel’s anti-terrorist fence

On January 14th 2013 the BBC News website ran a short item in its Middle East section concerning the funeral of 21 year-old Odai Darawish from the village of Dura. 

Odai Darawish

The article states:

“Odai Darawish, 21, was shot dead by Israeli troops while trying to cross the barrier separating Israel from the West Bank, his family said.”

The actual circumstances of the incident appear to be somewhat less simplistic than this article makes out. 

“According to Palestinian sources, the youth was shot as he attempted to flee soldiers on patrol in the area while he was on his way to Israel for work.

He was taken to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where he died of his wounds.

 The IDF said that around 3 pm the Palestinian attempted enter Israel illegally by breaching the security fence near the Meitar Crossing. An army unit that was dispatched to the scene initiated suspect arrest protocol, but the youth refused to heed the soldiers’ calls, prompting them to fire warning shots in the air.

When the suspected attempted to run, they shot his lower limbs, injuring him critically. He was unarmed.”

It would appear that Mr Darawish was not one of the tens of thousands of residents of the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories in possession of a permit to work legally in Israel.

The article continues: [emphasis added]

“Israel said it fired at a man at the barrier near Hebron on Saturday, without confirming it killed him.”

The sloppily-phrased claim “Israel said it fired” is presumably intended to mean that a representative of the IDF provided a statement on the subject. It is, however, doubtful that such a statement would include the phrase “at the barrier near Hebron”, because – as can be seen from the maps below – Hebron is at least 15 kilometers away from the Meitar Crossing, near which the incident took place. 

Meiter crossing

Security fence

Map Meitar crossing

The article goes on to say:

“Israel says the barrier is meant to protect it from attacks. Palestinians regard it as a means to grab land.”

Once again we see the use of the slippery phrase “Israel says” in a sentence clearly inserted in order to tick the BBC’s ‘impartiality’ box. Of course as anyone who lived through the terrible years of the second Intifada knows, the anti-terrorist fence is not just “meant” to protect Israeli civilians (rather than the BBC’s anonymous, non-human “Israel”) from terror attacks: that is precisely what the statistics show it does. 

 

Fence

That is also what leaders of various terror organisations say it does. 

“PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] leader Ramadan Abdallah Shalah was  interviewed in Damascus by the Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq. He said that the second intifada was currently characterized by rocket fire, which had replaced the previous stage of suicide bombing attacks. That, he said, was because the enemy [i.e., Israel] had found ways and means to protect itself from such attacks: “…For example, they built a separation fence in the West Bank. We do not deny that it limits the ability of the resistance [i.e., the terrorist organizations] to arrive deep within [Israeli territory] to carry out suicide bombing attacks, but the resistance has not surrendered or become helpless, and is looking for other ways to cope with the requirements of every stage [of the intifada]…” (Al-Sharq, March 23, 2008).”

“PIJ leader  Ramadan Abdallah Shalah told Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV that the terrorist organizations had no intention of abandoning suicide bombing attacks but that their timing and the possibility of carrying them out from the West Bank depended on other factors. “For example,” he said, “there is the separation fence which is an obstacle to the resistance [i.e., the terrorist organizations], and if it were not there, the situation would be entirely different(Al-Manar TV, November 11, 2006).”

“Mousa Abu Marzouq, deputy chairman of Hamas’s political bureau in Damascus, was asked by a group of Egyptian intellectuals and politicians why the suicide bombing activity had decreased during since the Hamas government came to power. He said that “[carrying out] such attacks is made difficult by the security fence and the gates surrounding West Bank residents.” (Abd al-Muaz Muhammad, Ikhwan Online, the Muslim Brotherhood Website, June 2, 2007).”

It is particularly galling to see an organization which has apparently just spent rather a lot of the British public’s money to protect its own employees against potential suicide bombings, casting doubts upon the means used by others to protect civilians from a distinctly more tangible threat – and engaging in the promotion of propaganda dreamed up by those who sent suicide bombers into Israel during the second Intifada to boot. 

Update: the BBC repeated the same claim in a separate article published on January 15th:

“Israel says the barrier is meant to protect it from militant attacks. Palestinians regard it as a means to grab land inside the West Bank.”

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