Previously we looked at the BBC News website’s amplification of the unsurprising results of an ‘investigation’ by the Palestinian Authority into the death of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh:
Newsreader: “The Al Jazeera news network says it’s referring the death of a Palestinian journalist to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. This comes after an investigation by the Palestinian Authority concluded that Shireen Abu Akleh was deliberately killed by an Israeli soldier during a raid in the West Bank. Israel says the allegation is a blatant lie. Our correspondent Yolande Knell reports from Jerusalem.”
As we see, once again the BBC made no effort to explain to audiences that the Palestinian investigators had no way of proving definitively that the person who fired the fatal shot was a member of Israel’s security forces, let alone that the shooting was ‘deliberate’.
Yolande Knell began by erasing the relevant context of recent fatal terror attacks carried out by terrorists from the Jenin refugee camp area and the consequent arrest operations carried out there by Israeli security forces. Instead, BBC audiences merely heard about a “military raid” on a refugee camp.
Knell: “It’s now more than two weeks since Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead while covering an Israeli military raid on the Jenin refugee camp. At a news conference in London, lawyers said that her case – and Israel’s bombing of Al Jazeera’s offices in Gaza a year ago – would now be submitted to the International Criminal Court. Already a submission has been made over the alleged targeting of Palestinian journalists by Israel. Israeli defence officials have strongly denied that their soldiers would intentionally harm journalists and the country says it’s conducting its own investigation into the death of the Al Jazeera reporter. It’s asked to see the armour-piercing bullet which killed her to check if it comes from an Israeli soldier’s gun. But the Palestinians have refused that, saying they have no trust in the Israelis.”
Knell’s unqualified and unverified claim that an “armour-piercing bullet” killed Abu Akleh is taken from the statement put out the previous day by the Palestinian Authority prosecutor-general Akram al Khatib.
Knell made no effort to explain to listeners why a “news conference” was held in London or who the anonymous lawyers that she quoted represent.
That press conference was held on May 27th and the participants included people other than “lawyers”:
“Speakers at the event were from Bindmans LLP, Doughty Street Chambers, the International Federation of Journalists, Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, International Centre of Justice for Palestinians, and Al Jazeera.”
Moreover, it was Al Jazeera that filmed the event:
“This footage was originally filmed and distributed by Al Jazeera English.”
The press conference was chaired by Tayab Ali of Bindmans LLP whose previous clients have included Raed Salah, the family of a Hamas leader and the parents of an ISIS fighter. As Ali noted at the beginning of his remarks, he also represents an organisation set up in June 2021 called the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians which happens to be holding a conference on May 31st titled “Responding to Apartheid in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories”:
“This conference, hosted by the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) brings together directors of five leading Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights organisations: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Al Haq, B’Tselem and Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN) who have recently declared that Israel is committing the crimes of apartheid according to international law. This crime against humanity is occurring ‘in a post-apartheid world,’ as the UN Special Rapporteur, Michael Lynk has recently reported.”
Speakers at that conference include two people who are on the ICJP’s advisory board: Sarah Leah Whitson (formerly of ‘Human Rights Watch’) and Wadah Khanfar (former director general of Al Jazeera). Other members of the ICJP’s advisory board include the founder of Bindmans LLP, Alan Duncan and Layla Moran MP. Its staff includes another MP – Crispin Blunt – who, in 2017, told BBC audiences that Al Jazeera “looks pretty impeccable”.
As noted in the Bindmans statement, an earlier submission to the ICC was made in April 2022.
“Bindmans LLP and Doughty Street Chambers worked with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) and the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) to submit the formal complaint to the ICC in early April 2022. […]
The complaint details the systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists on behalf of four named victims – Ahmed Abu Hussein, Yaser Murtaja, Muath Amarneh and Nedal Eshtayeh – who were killed or maimed by Israeli snipers while covering demonstrations in Gaza. All were wearing clearly marked press vests at the time they were shot.
The complaint also details the targeting of media and bombing of the the Al-Shorouk and Al-Jawhara Towers in Gaza City in May 2021…”
As readers may recall, at least one of those “four named victims” was a Hamas operative and the high-rise building that housed Al Jazeera’s offices in the Gaza Strip was also used by Hamas for military purposes.
Notably, the Palestinian Journalist’s Syndicate is involved in both submissions to the ICC and was present at the news conference mentioned by Knell. In 2013 that Fatah-controlled organisation and the Palestinian Authority introduced restrictions on foreign journalists and three years later the PJS decided “to boycott any Palestinian official who gives an interview to Israeli reporters or media organisations”.
Listeners to BBC Radio 4 were however denied any of that important background to this blatantly obvious case of lawfare waged by Palestinians and their allies in the worlds of law, NGOs and journalism. They did however once again hear the BBC promoting the libel that Israel targets journalists, along with uncritical amplification of an entirely predictable Palestinian Authority ‘investigation’.