BBC’s Davies describes new Golan fence as ‘controversial’

The ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the Middle East page of the BBC News website included an item by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Wyre Davies on May 12th entitled “Israel prepares for the worst as tensions over Syria grow“.

In that piece, readers once again see the Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hizballah described in cartoonish terms as Israel’s “arch-enemy in southern Lebanon” and once again the writer manages to produce an entire article based around the subject of Israeli responses to weapons transfers to Hizballah via Syria without explaining the all-important underlying UN Security Council resolution 1701

Davies’ main theme in this feature is that Israel is preparing itself for another round of conflict with Hizballah – an assertion which will not be news to anyone with even a basic familiarity with the Middle East.

“It is obvious as well, that not just the municipality of Haifa but the Israeli government and the higher echelons of the army are getting ready for the possibility if not the probability of another conflict in the north.”

However, Davies appears to have swallowed the same dubious claims regarding the Iron Dome missile defence system as promoted by his colleagues Kevin Connolly and Jonathan Marcus in recent weeks.

“Driving out of Haifa, newly installed batteries of the much vaunted Iron Dome anti-missile defence system are visible in fields to the north of the city.

After the system was successfully used in last year’s Gaza conflict, it should provide added security for Haifa and other northern towns in the event of another conflict, even though there is still a debate about how effective the system – developed in Israel and financed by the United States – actually is.”

Later on in the article comes this rather curious statement:

“Although all of the intelligence and military assessments concur that the greatest immediate threat to Israel still comes from the north and Hezbollah, in recent weeks and months there has also been a great deal of concern and attention focused on the eastern frontier.”

That analysis suggests that Davies has not entirely grasped the fact that whilst Hizballah’s traditional stomping ground is indeed southern Lebanon (to the north of Israel), its record of activity abroad and its involvement in the Syrian civil war indicate that it is by no means confined to that geographical location. The Lebanese website Naharnet reported earlier in the week that Hizballah has been involved in the recent fierce fighting in the Dara’a area in southern Syria – close to the borders with both Jordan and Israel – and other reports suggest that the terror organisation’s presence in that region has, with Iranian prompting, received Bashar Assad’s blessing. 

Meanwhile, on the morning of May 15th, mortars from Syria landed in the area of Mount Hermon in the northern Golan Heights, with the fire later being claimed by an Islamist group operating in Syria. On the same day a New Zealander serving with UNTSO was abducted from an observation post in the Golan, apparently together with two othersbut released after a few hours. In southern Lebanon a UNIFIL post was overrun with three soldiers also briefly kidnapped and equipment and ammunition stolen. None of the above incidents has so far been reported by the BBC. (Also unreported was missile fire on the same day on Israel’s southern area of Eshkol.) 

The repeated incidents of abductions of UN personnel in the Golan Heights have already had a detrimental effect upon peace-keeping activities along that border (one imagines much to the delight – if not intent – of the assorted Islamist groups located in the area) and an alleged recent EU statement suggests that the same could apply to the Lebanese – Israeli frontier.  Ironically, during a visit to Lebanon on May 13th, the UN Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping saw fit to whitewash the long-standing failure of his organisation to implement UN SC 1701 which has led to the current situation in which Hizballah is able to threaten regional stability on several fronts. 

“In his remarks, Mr. Ladsous commended Israel and Lebanon for their continued commitment to the cessation of hostilities and the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese group Hizbollah, and calls for respect for the Blue Line, the disarming of all militias in Lebanon, and an end to arms smuggling in the area.”

Towards the end of Davies’ article we find another bizarre statement: 

“Israel’s response to the fighting and upheaval on the Syrian side of the plateau has been spectacular if controversial.

A massive new 3m (10ft) high fence has been built in almost no time along the entire length of the de-facto border and Israel’s military presence has been visibly stepped up in the region.”

What exactly Davies thinks is “spectacular” or “controversial” about replacing a forty year-old rusty fence with a new one in light of the appearance of armed Al Qaeda-affiliated groups on its other side is – to this writer at least – something of a mystery.

And for as long as the BBC continues with its practice of selective reporting of events on Israel’s northern and eastern borders – as well as those on its southern one with the Gaza Strip – BBC audiences will also remain mystified with regard to the dynamics at work in cooking up the next round of conflict – from whichever direction it may come.


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