BBC describes firebombing of checkpoint as “protests”

On April 4th 2013 the BBC News website ran an article on its Middle East page under the title “Palestinians shot dead by Israeli fire in West Bank“. The original article – published late the previous night – looked like this:

Tulkarem firebomb attacks

The next day, that article was replaced with this version:

Einav incident

As we see, the headline already hints at a tale of inactive Palestinians who are the victims of Israeli action. The report opens:

“Two Palestinian teenagers have been shot and killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Tulkarm after clashes between soldiers and youths.”

The phrasing of this sentence reinforces the impression given by the headline by leading with the statement that the young men were “shot and killed” before getting into the subject of why that happened. The sentence also includes two major inaccuracies.

The incident, which took place after dark on Wednesday April 3rd, did not occur in Tulkarem at all, but several miles to the east at a security checkpoint near the village of Einav (in Area C), not far from the PA-controlled Area A village of Anabta. The BBC’s description of the incident as “clashes between soldiers and youths” does not reflect the fact that the violence was initiated by the young men themselves when a group of Palestinians approached the security checkpoint and threw firebombs at the soldiers manning it. 


The report goes on to say:

“Palestinian medical and security officials told AFP news agency the first youth confirmed killed was Amer Nassar, believed to be aged 16. They named the second victim as his cousin, Naji Balbisi, 17.”

The majority of other reports on the incident state that Nasser was 17 years old and Balbisi was eighteen. Both were residents of Anabta. 

Only in the third paragraph are readers given some idea of the circumstances of the incident, and even then that information is provided in the reverse order of events.

“The Israeli military said its troops opened fire on Palestinians who threw firebombs at a guard post.”

In the seventh paragraph, readers finally find out what really happened: 

“The Israel Defense Forces said several Palestinians had attacked a guard post near the settlement of Einav on Wednesday and troops opened fire in response. It said the incident was under investigation.”

The report goes on to state: [emphasis added]

“The clashes late on Wednesday in Tulkarm, in the northern West Bank, came after a day of protests and a general strike across the territory.”


“The protests were sparked by the death from cancer of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, who was 64, on Tuesday.”

The words “clashes” and “protests” are inappropriate and inaccurate terminology when used to describe the pre-planned throwing of firebombs at human beings.

 By contrast, a similar incident three months ago in Northern Ireland in which members of the security forces were attacked with firebombs was described by the BBC in much less euphemistic language. [all emphasis added]

“Ten officers were injured when police were attacked by a crowd throwing petrol bombs and missiles in Belfast.”

Disorder broke out at about 18:30 GMT…” 

“The disturbances on Thursday…”

“Police said the crowd that attacked police was about 100 strong.”

“Some of the demonstrations have resulted in violence, including the attempted murder of a police officer in a petrol bomb attack in east Belfast on 10 December.”

The lack of continuity of language in describing two similar incidents in different countries is very revealing, both with regard to the descriptions of the actions themselves and the degree of activity/passivity ascribed to the attackers.

The BBC’s report once again promotes PA propaganda relating to the recent death of a Palestinian terrorist, without pointing out that the subsequent unnecessary riots are entirely the fruit of that incitement promoted by the PA.

“The protests were sparked by the death from cancer of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, who was 64, on Tuesday.

Palestinian officials claim that Israel did not provide adequate medical care and failed to release him after diagnosing that his illness was terminal.”

Likewise, BBC producer Jeannie Assad promoted hearsay surrounding the event on Twitter: 

Tweet 'Palestinian med sources'

The BBC’s attempt to frame the actions of the two young men from Anabta as being part of ‘protests’ at the death of Abu Hamdiyeh disingenuously conceals from the reading public the fact that riots and attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers – under some pretext or other – have been taking place on a regular basis in Judea and Samaria and the Jerusalem area for months. 

The whole-hearted adoption by the BBC of the Palestinian narrative – whereby ‘passive’ Palestinians are killed by ‘active’ Israeli troops whilst engaging in unavoidable ‘protests’ which sometimes lead to ‘clashes’ – is clearly displayed in this report. The shoe-horning into that narrative of an incident in which a group of youths – entirely at their own initiative and under cover of darkness – attacked members of the security forces with firebombs, with some of them then being shot by soldiers who assessed their own lives were in danger, provides yet another example of reporting which fails to meet BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality. 

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