As we saw earlier, promotion of the notion that the economic and humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is attributable to counter-terrorism measures imposed by Israel was a major theme in the first half of the December 17th ‘Today’ programme live broadcast from the Gaza Strip.
Audiences had however heard nothing of the Hamas terrorism which has made counter-terrorism measures in the form of restrictions on the movement of people and dual-use goods necessary and the very relevant issue of Hamas’ prioritisation of terrorism over the well-being of Gaza’s civilian population had gone unmentioned. Likewise the topic of “Palestinian Authority sanctions on Hamas” was not explained and so listeners were unable to comprehend what aspects of the situation in the Gaza Strip (e.g. electricity shortages, shortages of medicines, unpaid wages) have been brought about by internal Palestinian disputes rather than by Israeli actions.
Following an interview with UNRWA’s representative in the Gaza Strip, Mishal Husain handed the broadcast back to Darshini David (from 1:23:24 here). [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]
Husain: “Meanwhile Darshini’s been looking at the wider state of the economy here [Gaza].”
David: […] “Just to underline how painful the situation is, the average inhabitant in Gaza has seen their income shrink by about 25% over the last decade. Now earlier this year the International Monetary Fund said that deepening rifts and surging violence in Gaza threatened prospects for peace while the economic outlook is increasingly untenable.”
David did not bother to clarify what sort of “prospects for peace” there can be with a terrorist organisation committed to the destruction of Israel. She then brought in a third expert opinion to shore up the BBC’s homogeneous messaging.
David: “Well Robert Tchaidze is the IMF representative for West Bank and Gaza. I asked him for his latest assessment of the situation.”
Tchaidze: “It’s very hard to understand how difficult the situation is. There’s humanitarian crisis unfolding that has been happening for quite some time and we do see it in the economic numbers. GDP declined in the first half of the year by 6% compared to the same period in 2017 and it is difficult to imagine that things will get much different in the rest of the year. The Q3 unemployment was 55% and youth unemployment remains very high at 70%. There may be some marginal improvement at the end of the year when fuel started to come in but it’s difficult to expect some major turn around.”
David then made an opaque reference to “budget cuts” without clarifying that she is in fact referring to pressure put on Hamas by the rival Palestinian Authority.
David: “Of course underpinning the latest crisis has been a reduction in money from aid and indeed budget cuts as well. What does the IMF see as being crucial here to turn the situation around?”
Having stated that “there are no quick fixes”,Tchaidze stated that “any lasting economic solution requires a political solution and only then you can put in place policies that would work effectively.”
Ignoring the eleven year-long Hamas-Fatah rift which has had very prominent effects on the Gaza Strip economy, David steered her interviewee towards the required messaging.
David: “Indeed…ehm…many others have suggested opening up access to Israel both for goods and for some workers as well but that creates all sorts of security concerns – it’s not viable at the moment, is it?”
Interestingly, none of the interviewers or interviewees in this programme raised the possibility of opening up access to Egypt for goods and workers. Equally remarkable is the fact that at no point in the entire programme were listeners given any information concerning the amounts of goods which do enter – and exit – the Gaza Strip.
Tchaidze: “We too…it is our view that the economic situation can be…cannot be turned around if it remains to be so restrictive in terms of movement of goods and labour and capital. But that requires some sort of political solution that would guarantee security.”
David then went on to promote the notion that terrorism and violence are the inevitable result of unemployment.
David: “And going forward, how concerned are you by the situation ahead because – as you say – we have a crisis here in humanitarian terms and it is affecting in particular the young and that means rising tensions.”
After Tchaidze had outlined the difficulties of “coming up with a precise forecast” David closed the interview.
As we see, by the time listeners were half-way into this programme they had heard three remarkably uniform opinions from officials from UNRWA, the World Bank and the IMF. They had not however heard any differing views of the notion that the solution to Gaza’s economic troubles is “opening up access to Israel both for goods and for some workers” and they were told absolutely nothing about relevant factors other than Israeli counter-terrorism measures.
In other words, the BBC took a complicated topic and reduced it to a simplistic politically motivated narrative by airbrushing a plethora of relevant factors from audience view.