Years of BBC amplifications of Hamas denials unravel

Writing about Egypt’s closure of the Rafah crossing in August 2013, the BBC’s Yolande Knell told audiences that:Knell Rafah crossing

“Cairo has repeatedly accused Hamas of interfering in Egyptian affairs and has accused Palestinians of supporting Islamist militants in the increasingly restive Sinai region.

“They have a plan in order to distort the image of Gaza in order to start propaganda and media campaign against Gaza, against Hamas, in order to show Gaza is like a devil and Hamas is like a devil,” Mr Hamed said.

“I think they succeeded to do this on the Egyptian street, in the Egyptian society.” “

As was noted here at the time, Knell failed to provide her readers with any information to balance those claims from Hamas’ Ghazi Hamad.

In October 2014 BBC audiences were told that:

“Egyptian media accuses Gaza’s Hamas administration of aiding militants in Sinai. Hamas denies the charge.”

The same month saw the appearance of another BBC report on the topic of the Rafah crossing which also failed to provide audiences with information about Egyptian allegations of collaboration between “Palestinian elements” and ISIS terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula.HRW report Rafah

In September 2015 the BBC amplified a report by the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW):

“The [Egyptian] military aims to eventually clear an area of about 79 sq km (30 sq miles) along the Gaza border, including all of the town of Rafah, which has a population of about 78,000 people, HRW says.

The government says the operation will allow the military to close smuggling tunnels it alleges are used by jihadists to receive weapons, fighters and logistical help from Palestinian militants in Gaza.

But HRW said little or no evidence had been offered to support this justification, citing statements from Egyptian and Israeli officials that suggested weapons were more likely to have been obtained from Libya or captured from the Egyptian military.” [emphasis added]

Once again, none of the information available at the time to balance that claim from HRW was provided to readers.

Courtesy of MEMRI, a very interesting letter has now come to light.

“On February 24, 2016, a letter from an Islamic State (ISIS) fighter to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was posted on social media. In it, the fighter strongly protests the close ties and cooperation between ISIS’s Sinai province and Hamas, particularly Hamas’s military wing.

This letter is the first confirmation of ties between the two organizations that comes from ISIS itself, and a unique firsthand account of the nature of these ties. […]

The letter is by ISIS fighter Abu ‘Abdallah Al-Muhajir, who presents himself as a Gazan who joined ISIS in Syria. […]

With regard to the ties between Hamas and ISIS’s Sinai Province, Abu ‘Abdallah explains the areas in which the groups collaborate: ISIS fighters in Sinai are smuggling weapons into Gaza for Hamas; Hamas is producing weapons and explosive devices for ISIS Sinai; Hamas is providing logistical assistance to ISIS Sinai, including communications systems and hospitalization for its wounded fighters in Gaza; and ISIS Sinai officials are visiting Gaza and dining at the homes of Hamas government and military wing officials.”

Logic would dictate that the BBC is now going to have to review that policy of blindly amplifying Hamas’ denials of what has been known for quite some time and begin reporting this story accurately and impartially to its audiences.


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