BBC reporting on Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip has followed the same template for years:
- Produce occasional reporting highlighting the difficulties of Gaza fishermen.
- Portray the reason for the blockade exclusively as something that ‘Israel says’ is the case while disregarding the agreements which permit Israel to take action against suspect vessels.
- Ignore the stories which would help clarify to BBC audiences why the naval blockade is necessary.
“According to a statement from the Israel Defense Forces, the vessel set sail overnight from the Sinai Peninsula through the Mediterranean Sea toward Gaza, entering a prohibited area off the coast of the southern part of the Strip.
“Navy soldiers called via loudspeakers to [the vessel], and when it did not respond to the calls, the soldiers fired in accordance with the open-fire policy,” the IDF said.
Footage shared on social media showed smoke rising from the vessel.
According to the IDF and Palestinian media reports, the suspects aboard the boat managed to swim ashore.
The IDF said “equipment” intended for Hamas was found aboard the vessel, without elaborating. An unsourced Ynet news site report said the military believed the boat was transporting ammunition and anti-tank missiles.”
Another outlet noted that:
“The Palestinian fishermen’s union said two crew members dove into Mediterranean waters and swam to safety before the Israeli navy fired on their boat. A picture circulated on social media showed black smoke rising close to the Gaza coast.
Nizar Ayyash, chairman of the fishermen union, described the two crewmen as fishermen.
“The boat was completely burnt and destroyed, I think it may have sunk but fishermen on board jumped and swam to the shore. It wasn’t the first time they made such allegations and at the end these allegations proved baseless,” he said.”
Readers may recall that the Gaza fishermen’s union has been quoted and promoted by the BBC in the past.
While the BBC has been telling its audiences for well over a decade that “Israel says the naval blockade is necessary to stop weapons being smuggled to militants within Gaza”, it concurrently routinely refrains from reporting stories such as this latest one which would help audiences understand the frequency of such incidents and why ‘Israel says’ what it does. Clearly that long-standing editorial approach flies in the face of the BBC’s obligation to “build people’s understanding” of the topic of the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.