BBC News continues to tout inaccurate portrayal of the ‘Mavi Marmara’

On several occasions in the past the BBC has misrepresented the ‘Mavi Marmara’ – a passenger ship in the 2010 flotilla – as an “aid ship”.

For example in March 2013 BBC audiences were told: [all emphasis added]

“….nine Turkish activists on a boat called the Mavi Marmara taking aid to Gaza. That boat was boarded by Israeli marines and nine of the activists were killed.”

“Nine people were killed on board the Turkish aid ship, Mavi Marmara, when it was boarded by Israeli commandos while trying to transport aid supplies to Gaza in May 2010 in spite of an Israeli naval blockade.”

And in June 2016:

“It was the Mavi Marmara episode in May 2010, when Israeli naval commandos boarded a Turkish-flagged aid vessel which was aiming to breach Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, that caused the rupture.”

And in October 2016:

“Bilateral relations went into the deep freeze in May 2010 when Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara aid ship as it tried to breach the blockade of Gaza. Ten Turkish activists on board were killed.”

As has been clarified here previously, the Mavi Marmara was of course not an “aid ship” at all. The UN’s Palmer Report (p. 47), documented that it carried 546 passengers but no humanitarian aid supplies for the people of the Gaza Strip.

“If the flotilla had been a purely humanitarian mission it is hard to see why so many passengers were embarked and with what purpose. Furthermore, the quality and value of many of the humanitarian goods on board the vessels is questionable. There were large quantities of humanitarian and construction supplies on board the Gazze 1, Eleftheri Mesogeio and Defne-Y. There were some foodstuffs and medical goods on board the Mavi Marmara, although it seems that these were intended for the voyage itself.  Any “humanitarian supplies” were limited to foodstuffs and toys carried in passengers’ personal baggage. The same situation appears to be the case for two other of the vessels: the Sfendoni, and the Challenger I. There was little need to organize a flotilla of six ships to deliver humanitarian assistance if only three were required to carry the available humanitarian supplies. The number of journalists embarked on the ships gives further power to the conclusion that the flotilla’s primary purpose was to generate publicity.”

On at least two occasions (most recently in October 2016) the BBC has corrected its inaccurate portrayal of the ‘Mavi Marmara’ but that, however, is obviously not enough to prevent the inaccuracy from being repeated.

On December 9th an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Turkey drops case against Israeli officers in Gaza flotilla killings“. The opening paragraph reads:

“A Turkish court has dropped a case against four Israeli military officials charged over a deadly raid on a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza in 2010.” [emphasis added]


Especially given the previous corrections, it is of course difficult to understand why that inaccuracy is repeated time after time by BBC News.

Update: following communication from BBC Watch, the article was amended and its opening paragraph now reads as follows:



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