On the morning of Friday, October 25th a vehicle transporting pupils from Mevo Dotan in northern Samaria to school was attacked with an improvised explosive device. Fortunately, neither the driver nor the young passengers were injured. IDF forces searched the area for the perpetrators of the attack.
On the evening of Saturday, October 26th a bus and a car travelling in the al Fawar area south of Hebron were attacked by stone-throwers. Eight Israelis and one Palestinian girl were injured in the attacks.
In the early afternoon of October 27th two mortars fired from the Gaza Strip hit the Eshkol region of the western Negev, fortunately falling in open areas with no injuries caused.
Like the vast majority of attacks against Israeli civilians, none of these examples of recent attacks was reported by the BBC, which tends only to relate to incidents in which there are fatalities or to Israeli actions resulting from those attacks.
Terror, of course, is not just about specific incidents of damage, death and injury – its main purpose is the ‘drip drip’ intimidation of the broader civilian population with the knowledge that it could happen to them too – at any time and in any place – and the use of that fear to force political concessions from governments ultimately steered by public opinion.
Whilst many informed observers currently do not seem to regard the recent upsurge in violence as heralding an imminent third intifada, the fact remains that by downplaying – or completely ignoring – the daily acts of violence directed at Israeli civilians, the BBC neglects to provide vital context which is crucial for audience understanding of the situation as a whole and specifically, Israeli counter-terrorism measures aimed at containing the violent incidents targeting civilians.
But the failure to accurately report the overall picture does not only sell short the BBC’s obligation to provide audiences with a “global understanding of international issues“; it also affects the standard of BBC reporting and adherence to its own editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality.
As we saw in the lead up to last year’s ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’, the fact that the BBC had consistently ignored the majority of the preceding missile fire and other attacks (putting no reporter on the ground in towns and cities such as Ashkelon and Netivot until Israel responded to six weeks of paralysing missile attacks) meant that – with BBC audiences oblivious of the context – it was then able to erroneously claim that the violence began with Israel’s targeting of Ahmed Jabari and to make the bizarre assertion that the operation was part of the incumbent Israeli government’s election campaign.
It is the same lack of presentation of the context of the ‘drip drip’ of ongoing intimidation by terror which creates an environment in which BBC presenters can embarrass themselves – and the organization they represent – by making crass statements about the numbers of Israeli casualties, as was the case with Mishal Husain last year.
Clearly, an organisation as experienced in news reporting as the BBC can do better – both for its audiences and for its own reputation – if it so wishes.