Context omitted from BBC radio reporting on death of Gaza child

Early reporting on Operation Breaking Dawn aired on BBC World Service radio and BBC Radio 4 on August 5th and 6th included repeated references to the death of a child in the Gaza Strip.

‘Newshour’ BBC World Service radio, August 5th 2022, from 14:05 here.

Julian Marshall: “The Palestinian health ministry says others were killed including a five-year-old child.”

Yolande Knell: “But also a young girl and a woman in her early twenties are among the civilians who have been killed.”

‘The World Tonight’ BBC Radio 4, August 5th 2022, from 01:18 and from 15:33 here.

Newsreader: “Palestinian militants have fired dozens of rockets into Israel in response to Israeli airstrikes on Gaza that killed a commander of the Islamic Jihad group as well as at least nine other people including a child.”

Julian Worricker: “Local health officials said a young girl was among the dead…”

Yolande Knell: ‘…which killed at least ten people including several Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants but also a child and a young woman we know were among the casualties.”

‘Today’ BBC Radio 4, August 6th 2022, from 11:30 and from 1:04:16 here.

Mishal Husain: “A five-year-old child was among ten Palestinians who were killed by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.”

Newsreader: “The raids killed ten Palestinians including a commander of Islamic Jihad and a child.”

‘Newshour’ BBC World Service radio, August 6th 2022, from 00:12 here.

Julian Marshall: “Also dead in the airstrikes in Gaza a five-year-old child.”

Like Yolande Knell’s written report which mentions the same incident, none of those radio reports – or subsequent ones – provided any further details or context.

The name of that little girl is Alaa Qaddum (or Kaddum) and the incident took place in the Shujaiya neighbourhood on the afternoon of August 5th. The anti-Israel NGO Al Haq described it as follows:

“At approximately 16:25 on the same day, an Israeli warplane targeted, with a single missile, a group of citizens who were near Abu Samra Mosque, near Adel Al-Shawa orchard in Wadi Al-Arayes area in Al-Shuja’iya neighborhood, east of Gaza City, killing three Palestinians, two of which are civilians, including the child Alaa Abdullah Riyad Qaddoum, 5. Also killed in the attack were Youssef Salman Muhammad Qaddoum, 24, and Imad Abdel Rahim Ibrahim Shalah, 50. A number of citizens who were on the street at the time were wounded in the same bombing, including the child’s father, Abdullah Qaddoum, 31, and her brother, Riad, 6.” [emphasis added]

Al Haq refrained from clarifying which one of the three dead was not a civilian, or what he actually was.

Another anti-Israel NGO reported that one of the dead was Alaa’s cousin:

“At least two other Palestinians were killed in the same attack, including Alaa’s 24-year-old cousin Yousef Salman Mohammad Qaddoum, according to information collected by DCIP.”

The New York Times reported:

“An Israeli military spokesman, Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, said Alaa’s father, Abdullah Qadoum, was a senior Islamic Jihad commander, but would not say whether he was targeted in the airstrike. The family would not comment on whether he was linked to Islamic Jihad.”

The graphic later put out by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad naming its operatives killed during Operation Breaking Dawn includes Youssef Qaddum – Alaa’s cousin.

In other words, when Alaa Qaddum was killed she was right next to two operatives belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organisation: her cousin and her father; a senior commander of PIJ anti-tank units. While that clearly does not make her death any less tragic, it is important context that was denied to the BBC’s domestic and worldwide audiences and that is especially significant given that subsequent broadcasts uncritically promoted accusations from Palestinian interviewees of targeting of civilians and children. 

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