Back in February 2015 the BBC decided to produce a series of reports and programmes (see some examples in ‘related articles’ below) to mark six months since the ceasefire which brought the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas – along with other assorted terrorist organisations based in the Gaza Strip – to an end.
The occasion of the one year anniversary of the beginning of that conflict likewise received special BBC coverage and once more, the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet was at the forefront of the corporation’s efforts.
One of many problematic aspects of the BBC’s coverage of that conflict – both whilst it was ongoing and ever since – has been the corporation’s presentation of why it began and some examples can be seen here, here and here.
As some further examples from the BBC’s generous cross-platform ‘anniversary’ coverage show, one year on the corporation is nowhere nearer to providing its audiences with an accurate and impartial account of why Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8th 2014.
Listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newsday’ on July 8th 2015 heard the presenter introduce an item “to mark the conflict” (from 16:10 here for a limited period of time) in the following terms.
“Now it’s exactly a year since Israel launched a military offensive against Gaza which it said was intended to stop Palestinian militants firing rockets from there. Over the next fifty days 73 Israelis died and, according to the UN, 2,200 Palestinians.”
The BBC World News channel’s website promotes Lyse Doucet’s programme ‘Children of the Gaza War’ with the following synopsis:
“The war in Gaza is a war about children. It began when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered. A Palestinian child was later dragged into a Jerusalem forest, beaten, and burned alive.”
“Now on this day last year another war erupted in Gaza. It lasted 51 days and turned into the longest, most costly conflict of the three wars in the past six years. More than 2,100 people were killed in Gaza and 72 were killed on the Israeli side including 66 soldiers. And a very high price paid by civilians – and most of all children – became a defining issue in this confrontation.”
As we see, all three of those examples inaccurately describe the conflict as having taken place exclusively in Gaza: BBC audiences are not informed that hostilities also took place in Israel.
“In the three weeks leading up to July 8, according the official IDF figures, militants fired 250 rockets capable of reaching Israel’s largest cities and population centers and endangering 3.5 million Israeli lives.”
Also censored from these accounts are the cross-border tunnels which made the ground operation imperative.
“In the first 48 hours of the ground operation, the IDF uncovered more than 30 tunnels, including both defensive and storage tunnels as well as offensive terror tunnels leading into Israel. The soldiers uncovered a labyrinth of tunnels dug 20 meters deep and running 2 kilometers towards Israeli territory with multiple exits. The IDF Corps of Engineers detonated and demolished the discovered tunnels.”
The BBC’s narrative does not inform audiences that the military operation could have been avoided had Hamas elected to take advantage of the ample opportunities it was given to stop the missile fire before July 8th or that the terrorist organisation chose not to do so for reasons not by any means exclusively connected to Israel.
Neither does the BBC’s version of events clarify to audiences that the conflict could have been considerably shorter – and hence less costly in human life – had Hamas accepted any of the numerous offers of a ceasefire presented before the one which finally ended the hostilities.
The distortion of the factors which led to the summer 2014 conflict has over the past year become standard BBC practice. The version of events repeatedly promoted by the BBC is obviously not accurate due to its omission of the firing of hundreds of missiles at Israeli civilians before Operation Protective Edge even began and nor is it impartial as it clearly seeks to erase Hamas’ responsibility for igniting and prolonging that conflict from audience view.
We have said it before and regrettably we have to say it again: it is high time the BBC got a grip on its serial misrepresentation of this issue. Its failure – or refusal – to do so over the past twelve months severely compromises its claim to impartiality.