Developments in BBC News ‘collaborators’ story

Readers will no doubt recall that on August 22nd BBC News produced two reports – one written and one filmed by Quentin Sommerville – on the topic of Hamas’ summary execution of people it claimed were ‘collaborators’.  Sommerville told viewers of BBC television news programmes:Sommerville 22 8 executions

“On a Gaza City street just after Friday prayers a group of men are led to their deaths. Bound and hooded, they’re made to kneel. As a crowd looks on, they’re shot dead. Hamas, which supplied these pictures, say they were collaborators. It was a bloody day in Gaza; as well as the men killed here, eleven were earlier put to death by firing squad, accused of the same crime.”  […]

“Hamas said the men were sentenced by an emergency court but human rights groups say these were extrajudicial killings. Two women were among the dead.” […]

“The militants suspect that Palestinians here in Gaza colluded with Israel to bring about these deaths. Today’s shootings are an attempt to disable any network of informants but also to send a message to deter others from collaborating with Israel’s intelligence services.”

Visitors to the BBC News website were similarly told that:

“After the first 11 executions, Hamas warned that “the same punishment will be imposed soon on others”.

It added that “the current circumstances forced us to take such decisions”, suggesting a link between the executions and the killing of the three senior Hamas leaders.”

Now the Times of Israel reports that:

“None of the Palestinians summarily executed in Gaza on charges of collaboration during Operation Protective Edge were Israeli sources or assets, an intelligence officer told the Times of Israel Wednesday. […]

The Shin Bet security service said it could not comment on the identity of its sources but confirmed that those executed during Operation Protective Edge had all been held in prison in Gaza in the course of the hostilities. That being the case, it’s likely none of the executed would have had any information that might have played a role in an array of Israeli operations in Gaza, from locating rocket launch sites to targeted killings.”

Furthermore the ToI’s source stated that the air-strikes on the previous day in which Hamas’ Raed al Attar, Mohammed Abu Shamala and Mohammed Barhoum were killed were not carried out “on the basis of human intelligence”.

In addition, a Fatah official suggested that the executions carried out by Hamas may have had political motives.

“Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi, a former security chief in the West Bank, insinuated Wednesday that the killed Palestinians were rivals rather than collaborators. “Who are these people who were executed?” he asked Awdeh, a Fatah TV channel. “Some of those who were executed were former officers with the PA’s security apparatus.” “

As we noted here at the time, the BBC’s report of the August 22nd summary executions was remarkable in that previous reports of similar incidents had been ignored by the broadcaster whereas this one – which Hamas clearly was interested in promoting seeing as it supplied images and information – was given coverage. It will of course be interesting to not whether or not the BBC chooses to do any sort of follow-up story on this topic given the new information which has come to light.



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