BBC report on assassination in Lebanon fails to provide context

April 12th saw the appearance of a short article titled “Lebanon car bombing kills Palestinian Fatah official” on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. The report includes the following:Ein Hilweh story

“There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which occurred in nearby Ein el-Hilweh camp.

However, Fatah gunmen have recently been involved in clashes with rival factions in Ein el-Hillweh.

One man was killed earlier this month when one dispute escalated.”

The inter-factional violence in Ein el Hilweh has been going on for many years (the BBC itself produced a report on the topic in 2008) and hence the use of the word “recently” misleads readers. 

The report closes as follows:

“About 450,000 Palestinians are registered with the UN as refugees in Lebanon, and most live in 12 official camps that mainly fall outside the jurisdiction of the Lebanese security services.”

Remarkably, readers are not provided with any answer to the obviously relevant question of why refugee camps on Lebanese soil are not under the jurisdiction of the Lebanese security forces. They are not informed that arrangements concerning those UNRWA-run camps were enshrined in an agreement between the PLO and the Lebanese authorities.

“Under the 1969 Cairo Accords, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was granted exclusive responsibility for administering the refugee camps in Lebanon.”

Neither are they informed that the same agreement (which was annulled in 1987 by the Lebanese parliament) allowed the PLO to establish military bases in Lebanon and to conduct cross-border terrorist operations against Israel.

Both the Taif Agreement (1989) and UNSC resolution 1559 (2004) called for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias but neither Hizballah nor the various Palestinian militias complied with those conditions.

Obviously that missing historical context is crucial to audience understanding of the background to the story reported in this article. 

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