That report focuses on the deaths of children in Beit Hanoun on the evening of May 10th, minutes after Hamas began launching rockets at Jerusalem. An earlier item of BBC content also featured one of those children and as we noted:
“Readers would obviously understand from that account that Ibrahim and Marwan al-Masry (also al-Masri) were killed by an Israeli airstrike. However that was not the case.
The IDF investigated that incident in Beit Hanoun in which six children under 18 and two adults were killed. It was found to have been caused by shortfall rockets fired by terrorist groups.
“Israeli military officials say a mysterious explosion that killed eight members of a Palestinian family on the first day of the current round of fighting in the Gaza Strip was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket, not an Israeli airstrike. […]
A senior military officer says the incident was investigated, and Israel did not strike the Beit Hanoun area where the family members were killed that night.””
In addition, reports from three political NGOs not known for their friendly stance towards Israel have also suggested that the incident was caused by shortfall fire by one of the Palestinian terrorist organisations.
Presenter Huw Edwards introduces that item with a cliché that contributed nothing to audience understanding of the overall issue when he described the US Secretary of State as travelling to the region “to lay the groundwork for an eventual resumption of peace talks”. He continued: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]
Edwards: “Our Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen has been to a Palestinian community near Beit Hanoun where a young man and seven children were killed. Their families blame an Israeli strike but the Israelis say that the likelihood is that they were killed by a Palestinian rocket.”
As noted above, the Israeli investigation into the incident did not use the term ‘likelihood’: the IDF spokesman stated very clearly “this wasn’t an Israeli attack”.
Bowen: “On the 10th of May, the first day of the war, at around 6:30 in the evening, it turned into a small corner of hell.”
Despite BBC editorial guidelines stating that “There must be strong editorial justification for the use of very graphic pictures”, audiences then see a relatively long section of graphic footage with comment from Bowen, but are not told who filmed that footage or why filming was his priority at such a time.
Bowen: “Yussef al Masri lays his dead seven-year-old son Marwan next to the body of his other boy, Ibrahim, who was eleven. In all seven children and a young man of 21 were killed. Like all the bereaved parents he said that the dead were martyrs for Jerusalem, killed by Israel.”
The above NGO reports and a study carried out by the ITIC all state that six children – rather than seven – and two adults were killed in that incident. Bowen does not inform audiences that the “young man of 21” was called Ahmed al Masri and that according to the investigation by the ITIC (p. 6 no. 2 here), he – along with the other man killed in the same incident – was a Fatah activist.
Audiences see a monologue from Yussuf al Masri which includes claims for which Bowen made no effort to provide clarification or context.
Al Masri: “Every year or two they wage war on us and our children and our homes. Our life in Gaza is indescribable. We don’t have life, drinking water food electricity or hospitals like other people.”
Bowen: “Israel says it has no record of a strike at the time of that first attack. It says its assessment is that a Palestinian rocket aimed at Israel dropped short of its target. The family showed us shrapnel they said was from the bomb. Independent experts who’ve seen these photos say they’re fragments of air-dropped precision munitions, not Palestinian rockets. The two sides will not agree.”
In other words, Bowen’s idea of accurate and impartial reporting, as demanded by BBC editorial guidelines, is to present a piece of shrapnel provided to him by parties who already blame Israel for the incident which he cannot verify is related to the said event and to quote “independent experts” that he does not identify by name or association in order to support the messaging he has chosen to promote in this entire report.
Ignoring the Fatah flags and posters around him, Bowen goes on:
Bowen: “Another family in the village is mourning a son; Ibrahim Hassanein who was 16. His father said Israel broke their hearts and made them hate their lives when they took his boy.”
Ibrahim Hassanin was killed in the same incident near the al-Masri residence (see p. 7, no. 8 here) which was caused by a shortfall Palestinian rocket but Bowen has no problem amplifying those false claims concerning Israel.
Bowen: “Palestinians don’t believe Israel’s insistence that it works hard not to kill civilians, warning them to get out before some raids like the one that destroyed this part of Beit Hanoun.”
In this report however (presented with the purposefully misleading title “Palestinian community mourns 7 children killed in Gaza airstrike”), the gatekeeper of BBC Middle East reporting takes that one step further, going out of his way to ensure that in the minds of his UK viewers, Israel is to blame for the deaths of children, even though he has no proof of that and his report fails to present any direct comment from Israeli authorities.