Yesterday we noted here that the BBC has so far failed to provide audiences with anything even approaching a proper explanation of Hamas’ tunnel networks in the Gaza Strip and why those tunnels are the main reason behind the current ground operation phase of Operation Protective Shield.
After that post was published, we were reassured by the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in a Tweet which for some reason is now unavailable that her next report would be addressing that subject.
That report for BBC television news programmes also appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the evening of July 19th under the title “Hamas ‘defiant’ as Gaza casualty toll rises“.
A grand total of twenty-three seconds of coverage of the subject of tunnels opens the report. [emphasis added]
Doucet: “This is what Israel says it’s targeting now: tunnels used by Hamas for cross-border raids. This Hamas video shows their men armed with rocket-propelled grenades. Israel says its ground operations have uncovered more than a dozen tunnels and thwarted two attempts at infiltration.”
The report then cuts to an image taken from another Hamas propaganda video, with Doucet saying:
“But Hamas is still sending a defiant message. They’re preparing for the long run.”
What form that “defiant message” actually takes is not clarified to BBC audiences by Doucet. Here is the video used in the BBC report which, as readers can see for themselves, includes a threat to send “youth” with hand grenades to attack Israeli soldiers.
Doucet then continues:
“And yet again civilians are on the front line, fleeing their homes under artillery and tank fire. Today at this UN shelter some families gave a new reason: IDF control. We’ve been told Israeli soldiers are now taking over homes close to the border. The army denies it.”
Doucet refrains from informing BBC audiences of the fact that the entrances to some of Hamas’ tunnels are often located in houses, which are sometimes booby-trapped – as shown in the video below.
Doucet goes on:
“The number in need keeps rising. At the UN’s warehouses in Gaza they’re struggling to keep up.”
Robert Turner, UNWRA Director: “We only had stock for about 35 thousand people. We’ve gone through 50 thousand today. Ah…we’ll start running out of supplies tomorrow.”
Doucet: “And what does that mean?”
Turner: “Well the first thing we’re gonna run out of is matresses…ahm….so people arriving at the schools are gonna be sleeping on the concrete.”
Notably, Doucet did not take the opportunity to ask UNWRA’s director about the circumstances surrounding the discovery of missiles in one of that organisation’s schools a couple of days previously; news of which the BBC buried in the eighth paragraph of one online article. Neither did she enquire to which “Gaza authorities” that UN organization handed over those missiles – a question particularly relevant in light of the fact that it has now been suggested that they were handed over to Hamas. And the opportunity to ask about the possible use of other UN facilities by terrorists (as shown, for example, in this video from 2009 ) was also passed up by Lyse Doucet.
“This crisis is concentrating minds around the world for an urgent ceasefire. The growing human cost of this war is pushing more mediators to come to this region. But as pressure grows for a ceasefire, both sides know that the time to achieve their military objectives is running out and so that means that for the moment, the humanitarian crisis may only get worse.”
No attempt is made by Doucet to remind viewers that not only were considerable efforts made by Israel to avoid this confrontation in the first place, but also that after it had already begun the opportunity for a ceasefire was rejected by Hamas, meaning that a conflict – and the resulting human cost – which could have ended five days ago continues at Hamas’ behest.
Genuinely impartial reporting on the current humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip would of course make that all-important point of context clear.