The BBC News website’s report on the April 7th terror attack in Tel Aviv is currently presented on its ‘Middle East’ page as follows:
Initially published about an hour after the attack took place, that report was repeatedly updated as details emerged, with several changes made to its headline.
Original: “Israel: Several wounded in gun attack in Tel Aviv”.
The BBC Tweet promoting the original article indicates that the corporation had in fact already understood the link between that incident and the three previous terror attacks:
Prior to the appearance of the original version of the BBC’s report the Israeli police had already clarified that the incident was being treated as a terror attack. Nevertheless, the next five versions of the report were headlined “Israel: Two killed, several wounded in Tel Aviv shooting”.
On the morning of April 8th, after the terrorist had been located and shot in a gunfight with members of the security forces, the headline was changed to read “Israel: Palestinian gunman killed after deadly attack at Tel Aviv bar”.
Later the same day the headline was again amended to read “Israeli PM vows no limits after two killed by Palestinian attacker”. Following the announcement of the death of a third victim, the headline was altered to “Israeli PM vows no limits after three killed by Palestinian attacker”.
That headline and the version of the report which currently appears on the BBC News website will – barring any future changes – enter the archive as “permanent public record” and so merit closer scrutiny.
As we see, none of the headlines to the eleven different versions of the BBC’s report uses the words terror or terrorist. Instead, audiences were at various points told of a “gun attack” or a “shooting” and a “Palestinian gunman” or a “Palestinian attacker”.
In line with the selectively applied BBC editorial guidelines on “use of language”, the only mentions of the words terror, terrorism and terrorist and come in a description of counter-terrorism forces and quotes from an Israeli official.
“Hazem was found hiding near a mosque in the port of Jaffa, about four miles (6km) away, and was killed in a shootout with counter-terrorism and security agents.
Speaking in Tel Aviv on Friday morning, Prime Minister Bennett said security forces would have free rein to deal with threats.
“There are not and will not be limits for this war. We are granting full freedom of action to the army, the Shin Bet [domestic intelligence agency] and all security forces in order to defeat the terror.”
“Every murderer knows we will find them, everyone who helps a terrorist should know that they will pay a heavy price.”” [emphasis added]
The second line of the BBC’s report reads:
“Two were killed when a Palestinian opened fire on a bar in one of the city’s busiest streets on Thursday night. A third died on Friday.”
Readers have to scroll down to the eighteenth paragraph out of twenty-two to find any details of the victims’ identities:
“The two men killed at the bar were named as childhood friends Eytam Magini and Tomer Morad, both aged 27. A 35-year-old father-of-three, who was one of 12 people wounded, died in hospital on Friday.”
The report states:
“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned “the killing of Israeli civilians”, warning that “the killing of Palestinian and Israeli civilians only leads to a further deterioration of the situation”, the official Palestinian Wafa news agency said.
However, the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, praised the attack.”
Readers are not informed that much of Abbas’ statement in fact related to supposed “incursions” at Temple Mount. That omission is significant because, as explained by Khaled Abu Toameh, like those from Hamas and the PIJ, Abbas’ statement:
“…sought to establish a direct link between the terror attacks and visits by Jews to the Temple Mount and Israeli security measures in Jerusalem during Ramadan.”
The BBC’s article closes with messaging also found in reports on previous recent attacks:
“It marks the deadliest period of attacks in Israel since 2006, with fears of further incidents in the lead-up to the rare convergence next week of the Muslim festival of Ramadan, the Jewish festival of Passover and the Christian festival of Easter.”
The BBC’s euphemistic portrayal fails to clarify that such “fears of further incidents” are in fact entirely related to the fact that Palestinian factions including Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority seek to deny entry to Temple Mount to Jews and Christians by raising tensions in Jerusalem.