During the Second Intifada, on September 9th 2002, BBC News reported the arrests of three Jerusalem residents in an article titled “Palestinians ‘planned to poison diners’“.
“Israel is holding three young Palestinians from East Jerusalem on suspicion of plotting to poison diners at a café in the city.
Two of the men, who were arrested in August, are also suspected of planning to mount a suicide bomb attack.”
Six days later, BBC News produced another report on the same case – “Palestinian ‘poison plan’ cook charged” – in which audiences were told that:
“A Palestinian cook has been charged by the Israeli authorities with plotting to poison customers at a restaurant in West Jerusalem where he used to work
The man – named as 23-year-old Othman Said Kianiya – was arrested last month along with two other Arab residents of East Jerusalem who have already been charged.
All three were alleged to be working on behalf of the militant group Hamas.”
This week the ringleader of the would-be poisoners was released after completing a fourteen-year prison sentence and photographs of his reception in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabel Mukaber show that the BBC’s use of the word “alleged” with regard to Sufian Bakri Abdu’s links to Hamas was superfluous.
Over the last couple of years, BBC reports have variously told audiences that terrorists hailing from Jabal Mukaber were “ground down by the occupation“, angered by the demolition of houses of other terrorists or enraged by “threats to an important Muslim site“. Audience understanding would of course have been enhanced had BBC also covered the topic of the long-standing links of some residents of that Jerusalem neighbourhood to proscribed terrorist organisations and carried out some serious reporting on the much neglected issue of Hamas’ efforts to boost its infrastructure in PA controlled areas.