In recent weeks the BBC has devoted a significant amount of column space and air-time to explaining to its audiences the supposed factors lying behind the surge in violence and terrorism which was seen in Israel during October and November 2014.
As we have previously recorded here, the factor most promoted to BBC audiences as having prompted the murders of Israeli civilians and violent rioting was ‘settlements’. The second most promoted factor was the campaign for equal prayer rights for non-Muslims on Temple Mount and the amount of BBC content relating to that topic has been considerable.
One aspect of the story has, however, been completely ignored in all the extensive BBC coverage and that is the existence of organised groups purposely set up to cause unrest on Temple Mount. On January 12th the Israeli security services closed down three such groups.
“These groups were formed in October 2014 by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel “with the purpose of funding activities meant to disrupt the security of visitors to the Temple Mount and in order to inflame tensions and cause disturbances, while harming the sovereignty of the State of Israel at the site,” the [Israel Security] agency said. […]
The main issue appears to be paying Muslim activists, youths and students who arrive at the Temple Mount each day, often on buses organized by the Islamic Movement and the charities, and maintain a presence on the Mount during visiting hours.
These people tend to use verbal and physical violence to harass visitors “while harming freedom of religion through threatening the personal safety of visitors to the site,” the Shin Bet said. […]
In May of last year, the Shin Bet announced the arrest of a senior Hamas operative who they said told interrogators that Hamas uses the Islamic Movement in Israel as a front to advance its activities and goals in Jerusalem.
Hamas pays youths a permanent salary of NIS 4,000- NIS 5,000 a month to stay on the Temple Mount and prevent Jews from visiting the site, he told them.”
This is not the first time the security services have closed down organisations active on Temple Mount linked to the Northern Islamic Movement.
There is also nothing novel about the BBC ignoring the existence of organised provocateurs in its coverage of stories relating to Temple Mount: it did so in a February 2014 article about disturbances at the site and more recently, on December 5th 2014, Tim Franks interviewed a woman apparently belonging to such a group but failed to provide BBC audiences with the relevant context to her activities.
The BBC cannot claim to fulfil its public purpose remit of building “understanding of international issues” by means of accurate and impartial reporting if it continues to frame its coverage of the topic of Temple Mount in such a way that the existence of foreign funded groups of extremist agitators at the site is erased from audience view.