On the afternoon of October 4th the BBC News website published a report titled “Israel accuses Iran over Cyprus alleged hitman plot” on its ‘Middle East’ page.
The broader ‘context’ provided by the BBC at the end of the report is however worthy of note.
“Israel has previously accused Iran or its ally Hezbollah of carrying out, or planning to carry out, attacks on Israelis abroad. In 2012 Cyprus convicted a Hezbollah member of plotting to attack Israelis there. That same year, Bulgaria and Israel accused Hezbollah of carrying out a suicide bombing there which killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian.
Iran and Hezbollah denied involvement in the incidents.”
The claim that “[i]n 2012 Cyprus convicted a Hezbollah member of plotting to attack Israelis there” is inaccurate. While the operative concerned was arrested in July 2012, as the BBC itself reported at the time, he was convicted in March 2013.
Not surprisingly given that the BBC did not cover it, another example of Hizballah activity against Israelis in Cyprus dating from 2015 is not mentioned in this report.
The statement “[t]hat same year, Bulgaria and Israel accused Hezbollah of carrying out a suicide bombing there which killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian” is partly accurate: Bulgaria’s announcement was actually made in February 2013. Significantly, the BBC refrains from informing its audience that the accusation was – as it reported at the time – later proven in court.
That, however, is not a novel policy. Readers may recall that in December 2020 – just over two months after the convictions for the Burgas terror attack had been handed down and the Bulgarian Chief Prosecutor had noted that the evidence “showed Hezbollah provided financial and logistical backing for the attack” – the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner told readers that:
“…Iran’s ally Hezbollah was blamed for a suicide bomb attack on a bus full of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria in 2012.” [emphasis added]
Despite both of this latest report’s cited examples of “carrying out, or planning to carry out, attacks on Israelis abroad” having been proven in court, the BBC nevertheless considered it necessary to inform its audiences that “Iran and Hezbollah denied involvement in the incidents”.
One can only wonder why convictions in the courts of EU countries are not enough to persuade the BBC that the repeated amplification of the denials of a terrorist organisation and its patron – even after legal proceedings have shown them to be false – do not contribute to audience understanding of such stories.