BBC News website promotes context-free video

The BBC republished a filmed report but failed to inform audiences of new information.

On July 3rd the BBC News website published a report headlined “Clashes as Ethiopian Israelis protest over police shooting” which remained on its ‘Middle East’ page for two days.

“Protesters have clashed with police across Israel following the funeral of a teenager of Ethiopian descent who was shot dead by an off-duty officer.

Thousands took to the streets of several cities on Tuesday, blocking roads with sit-ins and burning tyres.

A police spokesman said 111 officers were wounded during the disturbances and that 136 people were arrested.”

Only in paragraph twenty did readers discover that the demonstrations included more than “sit-ins and burning tyres”.

“The police force said officers initially exercised restraint and allowed the protesters to block the roads, but that they had to intervene once the protesters started throwing Molotov cocktails and stones, burning tyres, and damaging property.”

The background to the violent demonstrations was described as follows:

“The killing of 18-year-old Solomon Tekah near Haifa on Sunday caused outrage among the Ethiopian community, with one member of the teenager’s family accusing the off-duty police officer of murder.

A police statement cited the officer as saying he had tried to intervene in a fight between two groups of youths. After he identified himself, the youths began throwing stones at him and he opened fire after “feeling that his life was in danger”, the statement added.

However, Israeli media cited witnesses as saying the officer was not attacked.”

Since that report was published on – and removed from – the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page, additional details of the incident have come to light. A ballistics report has confirmed that “the officer fired at the ground and the bullet apparently ricocheted into Solomon Tekah” and the DNA of the deceased was found on a rock recovered from the scene. 

The BBC has not produced any follow-up reporting to that July 3rd report which told audiences that:

“Tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews were brought to Israel in the 1980s and 1990s. They say they have faced systematic discrimination, racism and a lack of empathy for their hardships ever since.”

And:

“”We’ll do whatever we can to make sure police will stop killing people because of their skin colour,” one protester told AFP news agency.”

However a week later, on July 10th, the BBC News website suddenly decided to publish a video also dated July 3rd in the ‘Watch/Listen’ section of its Middle East page.  

That video – which has no narration or text – had previously been embedded into the written report but was now presented as a stand-alone item with a synopsis informing BBC audiences that:

“Israeli police used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse protests by Ethiopian Jews prompted by the funeral of a teenager who was shot dead by an off-duty policeman.

Thousands took to the streets of several cities, blocking roads with sit-ins and burning tyres.

A police spokesman said 111 officers were wounded in clashes and that 136 people were arrested on suspicion of attacking officers and burning vehicles.” [emphasis added]

The BBC made no effort to provide context explaining the circumstances of the original incident or to update that synopsis with the information released after its written report was published.

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