BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – December 2015 and Q4 summary

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during December 2015 shows that throughout the month a total of 246 incidents took place: 194 in Judea & Samaria, 43 in Jerusalem, two inside the ‘green line’ and 7 incidents in the Gaza Strip, including one missile attack, two shooting attacks and two attacks with IEDs.  

The agency recorded 183 attacks with petrol bombs, fifteen shooting attacks, 29 attacks using explosive devices, six vehicular attacks and 12 stabbing attacks.

Three Israeli civilians were killed in stabbing attacks. Forty-four people were wounded: 5 in shooting attacks, 16 in stabbing attacks and 21 in vehicular attacks.

The first reporting on the BBC News website of any attacks during December came on the 4th of the month when three incidents were reported in an article titled “Four Palestinians killed after attacks on Israelis in West Bank”. Prior to the appearance of that report there had been a ten-day hiatus in reporting and following it there was no additional reporting of attacks against Israelis for over two weeks.

On December 23rd the BBC News website covered an attack in Jerusalem in which two people were killed and one wounded. The victims – Rabbi Reuven Birmajer and Ofer Ben Ari – were not named in the report.

On December 24th three additional incidents were briefly mentioned in a report on another topic.

The third fatality of the month was Gennady Kaufman who died on December 30th after having been seriously wounded in a stabbing attack in Hebron on December 7th. Neither the original attack nor Mr Kaufman’s later death received any BBC News coverage.

In summary, the BBC News website reported seven of the 246 attacks which took place during December. Two of the three fatalities were reported but – in contrast with BBC reporting on a shooting attack in America during the same month – the victims were not named or personalised.

Table Dec 15

As of the end of December 2015, the BBC News website had reported on 3.2% of the terror attacks which took place since the beginning of the year. Coverage of Israeli fatalities stood at 77% whilst 100% of Palestinian fatalities and 100% of foreign national fatalities had been reported.

The BBC’s public purpose remit includes ‘Global Outlook’ which is interpreted by the BBC Trust as meaning that audiences “can expect the BBC to keep them in touch with what is going on in the world, giving insight into the way people live in other countries” and includes the pledge to “build a global understanding of international issues” and “enhance UK audiences’ awareness and understanding of international issues”.

With the BBC News website having covered of just 3.2% of the terror attacks against Israelis throughout 2015 and with none of those reports, or any other, having clarified the all-important context of the scale of attacks as a whole, it is obvious that neither global nor domestic audiences are being adequately provided with “insight” into how Israelis live.

The absence of that information is important because it means that audiences are unable to properly understand Israeli counter-terrorism measures such as the anti-terrorist fence or checkpoints. It also means that when Israel is obliged to respond to rising terrorism (as seen for example in the summer of 2014), audiences and BBC journalists alike are unable to put events into their appropriate context and thus arrive at uninformed and inaccurate conclusions.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – November 2015

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – October 2015 – part one

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – October 2015 – part two

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – September 2015 & Q3 2015


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