BBC double standards on reporting terrorism continue

BBC coverage of the March 29th terror attack in Bnei Brak included an item in the evening edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ (from 38:11 here).

“Also in the programme: a shooting in Israel is reported to have killed at least four people…”

Listeners to BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World Tonight’ heard reports from the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell in a news bulletin (from 04:28 here) and a later item (from 26:52 here).

The sole mention of the word terror in all those items came from the Israeli journalist interviewed by ‘Newshour’.

The BBC News website published a report on the evening of March 29th which was amended several times in the hours that followed as new details came to light.

The fifth version of that report – published on the morning after the attack – was headlined “Five killed in latest deadly attack in Israel” and, like the two subsequently published versions, it opened:

“Five people have been shot dead by a Palestinian gunman in a suburb of the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, in the third deadly attack of its kind in a week.” [emphasis added]

The phrase “of its kind” obviously does not relate to the location (the previous two attacks were not in the Tel Aviv area), the means of attack (the first incident was a combined stabbing and vehicular attack) or the identity of the perpetrator (the terrorists in the first two attacks were not “Palestinian”). Rather, that phrase actually means that three terror attacks have taken place in a week but – as usual and as it did in its reports on the incidents in Be’er Sheva and Hadera – the BBC avoids using that term to describe the politically motivated murders of Israelis.

And so once again readers of this report found the terrorist portrayed as a “Palestinian gunman”, a “gunman” and an “attacker” while the incident itself (and the previous ones) is uniformly described as an attack. As ever, the only mentions of the words terrorism and terror come in direct quotes from Israeli officials – in this case politicians.

Readers were told that:

“Police said an officer who shot the gunman was among the dead.”

By the time the fifth version of this article was published, the identities of three of the five victims – including the police officer – had been known for several hours

“Authorities early Wednesday identified three of the five victims of a deadly terror shooting spree in Bnei Brak the previous night, including two young fathers and a police officer who helped kill the gunman.

The victims were named as officer Amir Khoury, 32, a Christian Arab; and local residents Yaakov Shalom, 36, and Avishai Yehezkel, 29.

Reports said the two other victims were foreign workers who had not been identified by Wednesday morning.”

The two foreign nationals were later identified as Ukrainian citizens.

The first BBC reporting of the identities of the victims came in the sixth version of the report, published some ten hours after the information was in the public domain.

The BBC’s fifth report stated:

“The attacker has been identified as a 26-year-old Palestinian from a village near Jenin, in the north of the occupied West Bank, who had previously been jailed in Israel.”

The currently available version – now headlined “Five killed by Palestinian gunman in latest deadly attack in Israel” – states:

“The attacker was named as Diaa Hamarsheh, a 27-year-old Palestinian from the village of Yabad, in the north of the occupied West Bank. He had previously worked in Bnei Brak and been jailed in Israel for security-related offences.”

Readers are not told that Diaa Hamarsheh had been convicted of terror ties and illegal sale of weapons or that he was in Israel illegally.

From its third version onwards the BBC’s report told readers that the attack had been condemned by the PA president Mahmoud Abbas.

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the killings of the Israelis and warned that the attack might lead to escalation at a time when “we are striving for stability”.”


“The shootings were also condemned by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“The killing of Palestinian and Israeli civilians will only lead to further deterioration of the situation, while we are all striving for stability,” he warned.”

Readers are not informed why Abbas took the unusual step of issuing that condemnation or that supporters of his own faction, Fatah, lauded the terrorist.

The BBC’s report goes on:

“However, the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, praised the attack, saying: “We express our blessing to the Tel Aviv operation.””

Similar praise from other Palestinian factions including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and the PFLP – as well as from Hizballah – is not reported by the BBC. As usual, neither do audiences find any mention of the celebrations seen on the streets of towns in PA and Hamas controlled areas and on social media.

We know from past experience that had eleven people been murdered in three British towns in the space of a week the BBC would have no problem ignoring its own ridiculous editorial guidelines on “language when reporting terrorism” in order to inform audiences that what had happened was terrorism. We can also assume that any celebrations of fatal terror attacks against UK citizens and foreign nationals would not be ignored.

Nevertheless, as the corporation’s cross-platform coverage of this latest attack demonstrates yet again, the BBC continues to apply those double standards.

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