At around 10:30 pm on March 11th sirens warning of incoming missiles from the Gaza Strip sounded in the Sha’ar HaNegev district, sending residents of Sderot and additional communities in the area scrambling for cover. Four missiles landed in Israeli territory but fortunately caused no injuries or damage. Several hours later the IDF responded with strikes on Hamas installations in the northern Gaza Strip.
Despite BBC staff in the region being aware of the events, there was no coverage of those missile attacks on the Middle East page of the BBC’s English language website. The Israeli response, however, did receive coverage on the BBC Arabic website in an article illustrated with a photograph bearing a caption which tells readers that Palestinians suffer from a lack of materials with which to rebuild houses but fails to inform them of Hamas’ appropriation of construction materials for the purposes of terrorism.
The pattern of refraining from reporting missile attacks on Israeli civilians in English whilst covering Israeli responses to those attacks in Arabic is by no means new. The same format was evident on two separate occasions in January of this year and was also employed throughout much of last year and the later part of 2014.
Since the beginning of 2016 the BBC’s record of reporting missile attacks on Israeli civilians by terrorists in the Gaza Strip in the English language stands at 0%. Clearly that record is not conducive to meeting the corporation’s obligation to enhance its audiences’ “awareness and understanding of international issues”.