Visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page on September 21st were informed that an Israeli soldier had been “abducted and killed”.
The link leads to a very short article replete with omissions and errors and with a bizarre choice of additional articles included under the title “More on This Story”.
Notably, whilst the suspected murderer is personalised with his name and age, the soldier is not. He remains a nameless, faceless, ageless entity for BBC audiences.
The report opens:
“An Israeli soldier has been abducted and killed by a Palestinian man in the northern West Bank, Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency says.”
An average reader would understand from that sentence – as well as from the report’s headline – that the incident took place in “the northern West Bank”. In fact, twenty year-old Sergeant Tomer Hazan, who served in the Israeli Air Force, was lured – rather than abducted – by the suspected murderer from his home town of Bat Yam (south of Tel Aviv) to the area of the latter’s home in Beit Amin near Qalqiliya on Friday September 20th.
The report goes on:
“The soldier was seized on Friday and his body found near the town of Qalqiliya on Saturday, it said.
A suspect – who Shin Bet said worked with the soldier – has been arrested.”
Again, Tomer Hazan was not “seized” but lured by a man he knew due to the fact that they worked together at a shawarma restaurant in Bat Yam. Early on the morning of Saturday September 21st, Hazan’s body was found dumped in a water cistern – a fact which was reported in earlier versions of the BBC article but which was removed from the updated version.
The BBC report concludes:
“The statement said he had confessed to killing the soldier in the hope that he could trade the body in exchange for the release of his imprisoned brother.
Shin Bet named the suspect as Nidal Ammer, 42-year-old Palestinian man.
More arrests are expected, it added.”
Nidal Amar (the BBC spells his name Ammer) apparently intended to trade Hazan’s body for the release of his brother Nur Al Din Amar – a member of the Fatah Tanzim terrorist group – who was imprisoned in 2003 for security offences including the dispatch of a female suicide bomber and who is scheduled for release in 2032. According to some Israeli media reports another brother was arrested at the same time as Nidal Amar.
First published at 14:10 UTC/GMT on September 21st, the BBC report was subsequently updated several times with the latest version (at the time of writing) having been published at 16:59 GMT – 19:59 Israeli time. By that time, details of the murdered soldier’s identity had been made public on multiple local television and radio stations and on news websites. For example, the Times of Israel published its story at 19:26 local time, the Jerusalem Post at 16:47, Ma’ariv at 18:18, YNet at 17:09 and Channel 2 TV at 18:41. In addition, the IDF spokesman made the murdered soldier’s name public at 18:23 on Twitter – around an hour and a half before the last update to the BBC report.
It is therefore difficult to understand why the BBC elected not to include the victim’s name in the later update to its report.