A written report which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 13th under the title “Israel warns north Gaza civilians to evacuate ahead of strikes” opens with the following statement:
“Israel says it has warned residents in northern Gaza to evacuate as it prepares to launch fresh air strikes.”
In fact, Israel did not just ‘say’ it had warned residents to evacuate; it did warn them – by means of SMS and voice-mail messages, as well as with leaflets which – as other media organisations reported – were readily available in the public domain by the time the BBC published its article, including an English language translation.
A photograph illustrating the article also uses the ‘Israel said’ formula in its caption.
Readers have to continue until the report’s eighth paragraph in order to get a proper view of events.
“The military confirmed it had dropped leaflets over the city of Beit Lahiya on Sunday morning telling civilians to seek shelter.
“We do not wish to harm civilians in Gaza, but these civilians must know that remaining in close proximity to Hamas terrorists and infrastructures is extremely unsafe,” the IDF said.
By 10:30am local time (07:30am GMT), more than 4,000 Gaza residents had taken refuge at eight bases of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, spokesman Chris Gunness said.”
However, this BBC report only tells half the story. No mention is made of the fact that a Hamas spokesman and the Palestinian Interior Ministry ordered the residents to go back to their homes (the original MoI statement, together with its Palestinian National Authority logo, can be seen here).
“The Hamas Interior Ministry released a statement titled “Urgent call to the residents of the Gaza Strip” in which locals were told to ignore the calls and warnings made by Israel and the IDF. “To all of our people who have evacuated their homes – return to them immediately and do not leave the house.”
“You must follow the directives of the Interior Ministry. This is psychological warfare, random messages to instill panic in people.””
A filmed report on the same story by Yolande Knell was also broadcast on BBC television news and promoted on the BBC News website under the title “Israel warns north Gaza civilians to evacuate ahead of strikes“. Knell tells viewers:
“This isn’t a family outing; it’s an exodus. Palestinians head away from their homes in northern Gaza and take their most prized belongings with them. Israel’s warning there’ll be a heavy bombardment of the border area where they live.
‘Look how many kids I have’ this man tells me ‘ We’re forced to leave. We’re not going to stay and be killed in our house’.
The Israelis broadcast their orders on TV and dropped leaflets. We’ve seen several Palestinian families like these clutching bags of their possessions and emergency supplies and heading south. The Israeli military has told them to evacuate their homes and there’s not much time left to get away. We find hundreds of Gazans coming inside a school for shelter. They’re exhausted and distressed.
Man: ‘I hope this will be end and we still alive and we go home and find our home as we left it’.”
Notably, Knell makes no effort to inform BBC audiences why those civilians were warned to leave the area. She fails to make any mention of the fact that the northern part of the Gaza Strip is used by terrorist organisations as a launching site for missiles. And she too refrains from informing viewers about the demand made by Hamas and the Palestinian Ministry of the Interior that those people to return to their homes and act as human shields for those terrorists.
Clearly the deliberate omission of any mention of Hamas’ use of human shields in any of the BBC’s written and filmed reports means that audiences are being denied essential information necessary for them to form an informed opinion on this issue.