BBC Jerusalem bureau reporting on Temple Mount riots

Previously we have looked at coverage of the violent rioting on Temple Mount early on the morning of April 15th in two BBC World Service radio programmes – ‘Newsday’ and ‘Newshour’:



Listeners to domestic BBC programming heard reports on the same topic from the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell in Radio 4 news bulletins, one of which was aired in the April 15th edition of the ‘Today’ programme (from 2:04:28 here).

Notably, the editorial policy of ignoring the BBC News style guide’s instructions relating to Temple Mount were evident there too, along with the whitewashing of violent rioting as “a demonstration”. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Newsreader: “Israeli police have clashed with Palestinians at the holy site in East Jerusalem. Tensions are high in the city where Easter and Passover celebrations are coinciding with Ramadan. Officers say they entered al Aqsa Mosque to disperse a crowd throwing rocks. At least 90 people were injured. Reporting from Jerusalem, Yolande Knell.”

Knell: “Videos from inside the contested holy site show chaotic scenes. Israeli police say dozens of young Palestinians – some masked – began a demonstration, shooting fireworks into the air and throwing stones, including at Jewish worshippers by the Western Wall below. It says that officers waited until after the dawn prayer to enter the compound; the third holiest site for Muslims which is also known as Temple Mount, the holiest place for Jews. Footage shot on a mobile phone appears to show tear gas and smoke in a prayer hall of the mosque as the clashes continued. Such scenes raise fears of further violence, including a response by Hamas militants in Gaza. Last year they fired rockets towards Jerusalem following clashes at the mosque, setting off a devastating 11-day conflict.”

By the time the same topic was presented just five hours later in a news bulletin aired on BBC Radio 4’s ‘World at One’ (from 03:59 here), the attacks on Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall had disappeared from the story.

Newsreader: “More than 150 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli riot police in the al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. The violence broke out after dawn prayers for Ramadan. Tens of thousands of worshippers have been praying in the city as religious holidays overlap for Christians, Muslims and Jews. Our correspondent Yolande Knell reports from Jerusalem.”

Knell: “Video shows masked Palestinians throwing fireworks and stones from behind barricades in the mosque compound as Israeli police use rubber bullets, stun grenades and batons. Police say they entered to disperse demonstrators and that several officers were also hurt. Hundreds of Palestinians were arrested before gates to the mosque were reopened for later prayers. Nearby small numbers of Jews prayed at the Western Wall ahead of Passover and large crowds of local Christians and foreign pilgrims joined the traditional Good Friday procession. There’s concern the current calm could be short-lived. Confrontations at Jerusalem’s most contested holy site always carry the risk of a slide into a wider conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.”

BBC World Service radio also aired a report from Knell on the morning of April 15th in another edition of ‘Newsday’ (from 19:01 here). Presenter Bola Mosuro (who once again failed even to pronounce the name of the site at the core of the story correctly) introduced that item with promotion of the notion of “conflicting stories” and claims of Israel “really terrorising” Palestinians which were not refuted or questioned by Yolande Knell.

Bola Mosuro: “Let’s cross to Israel now where there’s been a surge of violence in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli army has been conducting a number of so-called anti-terrorist operations there after a series of deadly attacks carried out by Palestinians against Israeli citizens. Well Israel’s prime minister Naftali Bennett said there would be no restrictions on the security forces battling what he described as a new wave of terrorism. Joining me now is our correspondent Yolande Knell. […] We’re hearing kind of conflicting stories, aren’t we? On the one hand you have the Israelis saying that they have been clamping down or crack down because of Palestinian attacks in Tel Aviv but the Palestinians on the other hand say that it’s actually the other way round and that it’s the Israeli forces who have – especially in the run-up to these holy…eh…festivals – have actually been going into the West Bank and really terrorising their community.”

Knell: “Well that’s right. There are these conflicting narratives here and this morning things have shown the potential to escalate further because the protest has switched more back to occupied East Jerusalem where there have been clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians inside Jerusalem’s al Aqsa Mosque compound; this contested holy site also known to Jews as Temple Mount. Now what we can see piecing it together from videos, from the police statements; dawn prayers there – it’s the second Friday of Ramadan so they were very well attended – ehm…and then Israeli police say dozens of young Palestinians – some of them wearing masks – began a demonstration. You can see that at least one person is holding up a Hamas flag in videos. They were shooting fireworks into the air, police say, and throwing stones, including at Jewish worshippers by the Western Wall below. Now in order to reduce any provocation, it says that officers waited until after the dawn prayer to really enter the compound and to try to clear away the demonstrators. That’s when we see that clashes happened. Now you can see that there is tear gas smoke in a prayer hall at the mosque as the clashes continue; believe that they’re still ongoing at the moment. And this has really raised fears, especially in light of what you were saying about what’s happened in Israeli cities with the deadliest attacks that they’ve seen for years and in the occupied West Bank with these…ahm…arrest raids and clashes that there have been there in the last few days. But now we could have a further escalation including a response by Hamas militants in Gaza because of course last year – and it was during Ramadan – they fired rockets towards Jerusalem following clashes at al Aqsa Mosque and that set off a really devastating conflict that lasted 11 days.”

Mosuro: “Yes, that’s always been a major flashpoint and we’ve also been hearing about cities of Ramallah, Jenin [mispronounced] also having issues there and even there being a curfew imposed preventing certain people from coming in. Do you see now though what’s happening at al Asqa [sic] being where all the forces are going to be concentrated and the attention?”

Knell: “Well certainly because it is such a flashpoint this contested holy site and we have, as you said, like this coincidence of the holidays – something that hasn’t happened for about 30 years…ahm…where, you know, today tens of thousands of worshippers are expected in the Old City. You’ve got Christians marking Good Friday, Jews who would go there to pray at the Western Wall ahead of Passover which begins this evening and you also have Muslims who want to go there. We don’t know if there are now going to be added restrictions on that.”

As we see, none of these items on BBC domestic and international radio provided relevant information concerning the pre-planned and organised nature of that morning’s rioting or the fact that Hamas and other terrorist organisations had been inciting precisely such violence for over a month.  

Neither were listeners to any of these programmes informed that false allegations concerning the supposed need to ‘defend’ the mosque on Temple Mount have been used as a pretext for violence for over a century – including ahead of the May 2021 conflict which Knell repeatedly mentioned in her reports.

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  1. says: Avinoam+Ben+Dor

    The annual roits on Temple Mt. raging for the past century is perpetuated by false incitement used as a pretext to attack the Jewish people in the Holy Land including pogroms instigated from 1919 up to 1948.

    What stands behind these senseless attacks even though everyone knows that Israel has no intentions to change the status quo on Temple Mt.?

    If Israel wanted to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque, it could have done so in 1967.

    So what is it all about?

    Read the following information then the rest in the link below:……

  2. says: Sid+Levine

    Knell has, as always, got her knickers in a twist.
    Somehow she manages to portray Israel as the offender when in reality it is the Arabs, the Jordanians, the PA/PLO/Hamas/IJ. One wonders for how long the Israeli Government Press Office, part of the Prime Minister’s Office, is prepared to certify her status as an accredited journalist instead of declaring her persona non grata. If the later were the case then she would have to forfeit her Israeli citizenship, she lives in Beit Safafa, in Jerusalem located adjacent to the Teddy Stadium

  3. says: Richard Turnbull

    “The violence broke out…” …Sure thing!
    It was a kind of spontaneous combustion out of nowhere, ex nihilo, from the cosmic void of nothingness — no conscious human individuals or groups instigated, created, urged on, participated in for their own reasons and due to their own motivations, in this destruction and violence, no: the violence just “broke out.”

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