As we saw in part one of this post, on March 18th the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell reported on terror attacks in Samaria, rocket fire on Tel Aviv and recent demonstrations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip for BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme. All those separate events were framed as being linked to the upcoming election in Israel and Knell rounded off that report by quoting unnamed “Israeli commentators” who turned out to be one journalist writing at Ha’aretz.
Later the same day a very similar written report by Knell appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page under the title “Gaza economic protests expose cracks in Hamas’s rule”. That article ended with the same curious framing of those domestic protests.
“Israeli journalists have observed that right now their country faces a paradox.
Usually, Israel would be pleased to see an uprising against Hamas in Gaza, hoping this could lead to the group’s downfall.
But in the run up to April’s general election in Israel, the country worries about turmoil and what other diversions Hamas might have in mind.”
Knell’s written report opened thus:
“In Gaza, it is no surprise to hear complaints about the terrible living conditions – after all, the World Bank describes a local economy in “free fall” with 70% unemployment among young people.
However, what has been extraordinary in recent days is that large crowds of Palestinians have been turning out on the streets to voice their frustration and even criticise Hamas – the militant Islamist group which rules the strip with an iron fist.”
The explanation given by Knell for those “terrible living conditions” read as follows:
“At the heart of Gaza’s economic woes is a blockade by neighbouring Israel and Egypt – restricting the movement of people and goods – which was tightened after the Hamas takeover. Hamas is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the US, EU and UK.
In the past two years, the PA has piled on financial pressure as it has tried to reassert its control over the strip. Cash-strapped Hamas has recently hiked taxes, raising prices and pushing many people in Gaza to the brink.”
As we see Knell claimed that Israeli and Egyptian counter-terrorism measures are “at the heart the heart of Gaza’s economic woes” but without telling readers of the Hamas terrorism which made those measures necessary.
While describing Hamas as “cash-strapped”, Knell made no effort to explain why one of the richest terror organisations in the world could be in that position despite generous hand-outs from countries including Qatar, which gave Hamas $200 million in 2018 alone.
She erased from the picture Hamas’ spending of hundreds of millions of dollars on cross-border attack tunnels and weaponry. She ignored the cost of Hamas’ efforts to build terror networks in the Palestinian Authority controlled areas and its financing of nearly a year of ‘Great Return March’ weekly rioting, including payments to the families of those injured or killed in the provocations it initiated.
Obviously Knell’s minimalist explanation of Gaza’s “economic woes” is distinctly unhelpful to BBC audiences trying to understand the real background to the situation which has brought demonstrators onto the streets.
No less unhelpful is her bizarre insistence on linking those social protests and acts of terror alike to next month’s elections in Israel.