For the third time in less than two weeks, missile attacks from the Gaza Strip aimed at Israeli civilians were not reported on the BBC’s English language website but the Israeli response to those terror attacks was covered on the corporation’s Arabic language site.
At around 9:30 p.m. on June 6th residents in the Ashkelon and Hof Ashkelon areas of southern Israel had to run for cover as air-raid sirens sounded a warning of incoming missile fire from the Gaza Strip. One projectile landed in a field in the Hof Ashkelon area, fortunately causing no injuries. Overnight Israel responded with strikes on terror infrastructure in the northern Gaza Strip’s Bet Lahia region and it was announced that the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings would not be opened on June 7th. In addition to the Iron Dome missile defence batteries already deployed two days earlier in southern Israel due to the recent rise in missile fire, a further unit was deployed near Rehovot.
As was the case after the previous attack three days earlier, the missile fire was claimed by a Salafist group in the Gaza Strip and Channel 10’s Hezi Simantov reported that a senior figure in the group told the paper ‘Al Quds’ that such attacks against Israel would continue as long as Hamas continues to hold members of the group under arrest and to ‘persecute’ Salafists in the Gaza Strip.
Whilst the BBC has made a habit of concealing the fact, last summer’s fifty-day conflict between Hamas and Israel also began with attacks by other, smaller, terrorist groups and Hamas’ decision to join in the missile fire was prompted by issues by no means exclusively related to Israel, such as the PA’s refusal to pay the salaries of Hamas employees and the closure of the Rafah border crossing by Egypt.
One might therefore have thought that the BBC would have shown some interest in reporting a second missile attack in three days – and the third in less than two weeks – not only because of the inevitable resulting rise in tensions between Israel and the Gaza Strip, but also (especially considering that only two months ago it enthusiastically promoted Khaled Masha’al’s claim that “There is no Daesh [ISIS], no IS or Al Qaeda in Palestine. There are some lone wolves but they are isolated. We don’t allow such thoughts in Palestine”) from the angle of the infighting within the Gaza Strip and Hamas’ failure to prevent other factions from breaching the ceasefire.
However, the BBC’s English language website once again carried no coverage whatsoever of this latest attack. On the other hand, the 1.7 million followers of the BBC Arabic Twitter account were told that “Israeli warplanes bombed the site of the Qassam Brigades in the northern Gaza Strip”.
Visitors to the BBC Arabic website found the same context-free headline in an article which once again leads with the effect rather than the cause.
As we see, a pattern has been established with regard to the reporting of missile fire from the Gaza Strip. Whilst audiences using the BBC’s English language website are not told of the attacks at all, readers of the BBC Arabic website get to hear first and foremost about the Israeli responses to such attacks.
However one wishes to describe this ongoing editorial policy, the appropriate title is certainly not accurate and impartial journalism.