BBC Executive cites Gaza article as example of improved ‘Arab Spring’ reporting

In June 2012 the BBC Trust published the report it commissioned from Edward Mortimer on the subject of the accuracy and impartiality of the BBC’s coverage of the ‘Arab Spring’ events. 

On August 6th 2013, the Trust published the additional report which it had requested from the Executive as part of the original report’s conclusions. That follow-up report can be read here

One of the items cited by the Executive in its follow-up report (page 6) as an example of improved accuracy and impartiality in BBC coverage of the ‘Arab Spring’ under the heading “cross-trailing & the web” is – bizarrely – an article which appeared on the BBC News website last November entitled “Q&A: Israel-Gaza violence” and which opens:

“Israel launched its military offensive against Gaza on 14 November, marking the latest eruption in a conflict with Palestinian militants which has raged between the two sides for years.

Here is a guide to some of the key issues involved.”

The item is riddled with multiple flaws from its beginning.

“How did this start?

Israel’s offensive on Gaza began with an air strike that killed the commander of Hamas’s military wing, Ahmed Jabari, whom it accused of responsibility for “all terrorist activities against Israel from Gaza” over the past decade.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) subsequently announced the start of Operation Pillar of Defence, which it said was intended to protect Israeli civilians from rockets and mortars fired by militants in Gaza, as well as cripple Hamas’s capability to launch attacks. […]

Israeli air strikes on what it said were rocket-storage sites and on Hamas facilities, and a surge in Palestinian rocket-fire into Israel, ensued.” [emphasis added]

Of course the build-up to Operation Pillar of Cloud began long before the strike on Jabari’s vehicle on November 14th. Only later on in the article is some very sketchy background provided and that is rife with moral equivalence which actively prevents BBC audiences from understanding that while the IDF targeted terrorists and their infrastructure, the attacks emanating from Gaza were specifically aimed at civilians. 

“Although Jabari’s killing signalled the start of Israel’s offensive, it was preceded by spates of deadly cross-border violence which saw Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas’s Qassam Brigades, firing hundreds of rockets into southern Israel and the Israeli military shelling Gaza and carrying out air strikes.”

The article also promotes another erroneous and much-promoted BBC theme from the time:

“Some observers have noted that the offensive was launched only nine weeks before parliamentary elections in Israel.”

The many other additional faults in this article only add to the incredulity prompted by the fact that the BBC Executive has presented it as an example of improved reporting – and on the subject of the ‘Arab Spring’ at that. 

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