Accuracy and impartiality failures in BBC report on incident in Kabatiya

On the morning of October 31st 2013 the BBC News website’s Middle East page carried a report titled “Palestinian killed in West Bank clashes“.

BBC article Qabatiya

The report – which is based entirely on claims made by Palestinian sources – leaves readers with the definite impression that Ahmed Tazaza was killed by Israeli forces during an operation in the town of Kabatiya (also Qabatiya), south of Jenin.

“A Palestinian has been shot dead during clashes after Israeli forces mounted an arrest raid in the northern West Bank, Palestinian sources say.

Medics said Ahmed Imad Tazaza, 22, was killed in the confrontation in Qabatiya. The Israeli military said it was looking into the reports.

Dozens of Palestinians had thrown rocks at the troops, who opened fire, Palestinian and Israeli sources said.

Several Palestinians have been killed in such clashes in recent weeks.”

However, as emerged later in the day, that version of events is in fact far from proven and yet despite that, the report remains intact on the BBC website.

HP Fri am

According to Ynet, Tazaza may have been killed in a criminal incident before Israeli forces arrived in Kabatiya.

“From checks carried out by the Palestinian security forces it emerges that Tazaza was taken to one of the medical centres in Jenin at about 4 a.m., critically wounded by gunfire. An hour later he was transferred to the government hospital in the town and there pronounced dead.

The IDF claims that the riots in the town [Kabatiya] only began at 5 a.m., at least an hour after Tazaza arrived at the medical centre.

Additional support for the possibility according to which the young man was not killed by IDF fire comes from his family’s statement that they refuse outright to agree to a post-mortem and their request to bring his funeral forward.” [translation: BBC Watch]

The Times of Israel reports:

“Tazata [Tazaza] had been injured and was already hospitalized at the time of the confrontation between Israeli troops and a group of Palestinian stone-throwers, during which he was reported by Palestinian media to have been killed, according to Israel Radio, which cited anonymous IDF sources.”

Channel 2 also reports that Tazaza was killed in a criminal incident.

BBC Watch contacted the IDF Spokesperson’s office and was informed that the incident is still under review and that during the IDF’s operation in Kabatiya, some fifty local residents engaged in violent rioting which included the targeting of soldiers with rocks and improvised explosive devices. Four of the rioters were arrested.

Both the accuracy and impartiality of this report were clearly compromised by the haste to publish unverified hearsay originating from particular sources and the obvious tendency to jump to conclusions based on the preconceived ideas of some BBC staff. 

Tweet Abualouf Kabatiya

The report is further compromised by the fact that as additional information emerged suggesting that the circumstances surrounding the incident may not be as clear-cut as the BBC’s report suggests, the article was not updated to reflect that fact.

Obviously, BBC News website editors need to urgently clarify and confirm the details of this story and to inform readers accordingly in a prominent correction. Inaccurate Tweets also need to be corrected in a clear manner. Editors may also care to amend the less than accurate map appearing in the report.

BBC map Qabatiya



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