BBC glosses over terrorism yet again in Donnison 'human interest' puff piece

The timing of the editorial decision taken by the BBC to heavily promote Jon Donnison’s latest report relating to the subject of Palestinian prisoners is very interesting. The event around which the story is based actually took place last August, but was not reported by the BBC at the time. Now, when a Palestinian publicity campaign to raise the profile of the subject of prisoners is in full swing, the BBC suddenly sends Donnison off to resurrect the story, with the result being a distinct whiff of activist journalism – or ‘journavism’ as it is known. 

Ben Yehuda street bombing 1997, in which Ammar a-Ziben was also involved.

Donnison’s tale of a baby boy born – supposedly as the result of IVF treatment using smuggled sperm –  to the wife of a Hamas terrorist jailed in Israel after having been sentenced to multiple life sentences, was featured on the BBC News website, on BBC television news programmes, on BBC World Service radio and some BBC Watch readers also heard the item on the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘PM’. 
The various versions of Donnison’s report all severely play down the father’s crimes, instead focusing on what one can only presume the BBC thinks is the ‘human interest’ side of the story. Donnison even goes so far as to inject some scepticism into his reports regarding the imprisonment of Ammar a-Ziben and other terrorists: apparently he is not convinced by Israel’s definition of the blowing up of human beings as a security offence. 

“Unlike some Israeli prisoners, Palestinians who are jailed for what Israel calls security offences are not allowed conjugal visits where they can be intimate with their partners.”

Donnison’s only mention of a-Ziben’s crimes is concentrated in one very vague sentence:

“Ammar Ziben is serving 32 life sentences in an Israeli prison for his involvement in bomb attacks in Jerusalem in 1997.”

So let’s have a look at what a-Ziben’s organization, Hamas, says about him.

“Ammar played an important role in resisting the occupation forces, at a time when most people were disenchanted with the occupation’s false promises of peace. Before his arrest, Ammar worked with Mohannad El-Taher, Ayman Halawa, and Mahmoud Abu Hannood.  This was the group of Al-Qassam leaders who carried the burden of maintaining the resistance before Al-Aqsa Intifada, and escalated the resistance during the first 2 years of the Intifada.

In 1997, five martyrdom operations resulted 27 Israelis killed and 300 injured as a reaction against the Zionist daily arrest and crimes against the Palestinian people. The operations were also a price paid by the occupation for the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians in occupation jails.  Ammar was in the operation room that oversaw the operations.” [emphasis added]

Ben Yehuda street bombing 1997

In other words, what Donnison euphemistically calls “involvement” in “bomb attacks” is actually the organization and overseeing of suicide bombings in which Israeli civilians were brutally murdered during the turbulent seven-year period between the signing of the Oslo Accords and the commencement of the Second Intifada, when rejectionist terror organisations including Hamas tried to derail the peace process. 
One of several terror attacks which Ammar a-Ziben oversaw took place on July 30th 1997 in Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem. Sixteen people were killed and 178 injured by two suicide bombers. Here is archive footage from a news report following the attack.


Donnison’s ‘human interest’ story shows absolutely no interest in the human beings murdered and maimed in that attack. BBC audiences are unsubtly steered by Donnison in the direction of empathy for the a-Ziben family, with the IVF treatment described as being carried out for “humanitarian reasons” and the child’s mother quoted as saying:

“Muhannad is a gift from God,” Dallal told the BBC at the time. “But my happiness is not complete without my husband here beside me.”

Donnison and his editors devote no attention to the fact that for the past sixteen years, life has most probably not been complete either for the relatives of Lev Desyatnik, Regina Giber, Valentina Kovalenko, Shmuel Malka, David Nasco,  Muhi A-din Othman, Simha Fremd, Grisha Paskhovitz, Leah Stern, Rachel Tejgatrio,  Liliya Zelezniak, Shalom (Golan) Zevulun, Mark Rabinowitz, Eli Adourian, Ilia Gazrach and Baruch Ostrovsky –  all of whom Ammar a-Ziben was complicit in murdering, along with many others in additional attacks. 

Memorial to victims of the 1997 Mahane Yehuda bombing

Donnison also refrains from revealing to his audiences the reason for the choice of name that Ammar a-Ziben elected to give his son. According to a Channel 2 report from last August, the baby was named Muhannad after Ammar a-Ziben’s good friend Muhannad Taher – known as ‘the fourth engineer’ – head of Hamas’ military wing in Samaria and an explosives expert. Taher was responsible for the deaths of 121 Israelis, having supplied the explosive devices which were used in the Park Hotel terror attack in 2002, the Dolphinarium attack in 2001, the Patt Junction bus bombing in 2002 and been involved in the organization of many other attacks, including those for which a-Ziben was convicted. Wanted since 1999, Taher was killed in a firefight in July 2002 whilst the IDF attempted to arrest him. 
Having already put out in recent weeks numerous reports whitewashing the terror connections of Palestinian hunger-strikers in Israeli prisons and portraying the organized rioting campaign aimed at stirring up international condemnation of Israel as ‘spontaneous’ protests, the BBC has now reached a new low with this ‘human face of terror’ puff piece from Donnison, in what is increasingly looking like a BBC publicity campaign on behalf of imprisoned terrorists. 

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