Why the BBC needs to update its Fatah profile

Back in November 2013 we observed that “the various articles and backgrounders on the subjects of Fatah and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades appearing on the BBC website are notable for the fact that the more recent the article, the more the connection between the political and military wings of Fatah is downplayed”.

The BBC profile of Fatah that is currently available online has not been updated in over eleven years. It includes the following claims: [emphasis added]

“The second intifada saw a number of armed groups associated with Fatah emerge, most notably the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. The Brigades are neither officially recognised nor openly backed by Fatah, though members often belong to the political faction.”

In February of this year we noted that a BBC report had described the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades as “The military wing of the Palestinian Fatah faction” and in August visitors to the BBC News website were told that “The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades is a network of militias linked to Fatah, the Palestinian movement which controls the West Bank”.

Clearly that profile of Fatah needs to be updated given that the BBC has apparently at last recognised that it has a “military wing”.

Additional parts of that profile state:

“Under Arafat’s leadership, the group originally promoted an armed struggle against Israel to create a Palestinian state. But it later recognised Israel’s right to exist, and its leaders have led Palestinian peace talks aimed at reaching a two-state solution.”

“With international pressure mounting, Fatah – though notably not the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades – signed a declaration rejecting attacks on civilians in Israel and committing themselves to peace and co-existence.”

BBC coverage of the fatal terror attack against Israeli civilians in Bnei Brak in March of this year told readers that it had been condemned by the PA president Mahmoud Abbas but failed to mention that other members of Fatah, together with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, had lauded the attack. The same pattern was evident in BBC coverage of the terror attack in which three civilians were murdered in Tel Aviv the following month.

In line with the BBC’s usual editorial policy of minimal coverage of internal Palestinian affairs, subsequent glorification of those terror attacks on official PA TV did not interest the BBC.

More recent developments which have likewise not been mentioned by the BBC also highlight the need to update its Fatah profile.

Following an incident last week (which was not reported by the BBC even though its locally based staff knew of it) in which an IDF officer was killed by Palestinian gunmen, including a member of the PA security forces, Fatah put out a video on Facebook. As reported by PMW:

“During the video, a text appeared on the screen with three important messages:

    1. “The Al-Aqsa-Palestine [Martyrs’] Brigades is officially announcing its operations (i.e., terror attacks)”
    2. “The Fatah Movement takes responsibility for the operations of its military arm [the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades]”
    3. “The Fatah leadership announces that it has returned to the phase of the armed struggle (i.e., Fatah’s euphemism for terror)””

PMW added:

“The implications of this announcement on international funding and support for the PA/Fatah support should be significant. This may explain why shortly after posting the video Fatah removed it from its Facebook page.” 

A few days prior to that, MEMRI had reported that the Fatah secretary in Jenin had stated on Palestinian Authority TV that “Fatah’s military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, has a “green light” to react to any “aggression” against the Palestinian people”, while claiming that all of Israeli territory is ‘Palestine’.

Although the dynamics currently at play are clearly more complex than suggested by those two isolated reports, it is nevertheless obvious that the BBC, which only two months ago once again told its audiences that the Palestinians seek a two-state solution, needs to do some serious catching up – and reporting – on recent developments within the Fatah faction and the Palestinian Authority which it dominates.   

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1 Comment

  1. says: Grimey

    The BBC will decide whether or not to update its Fatah profile – according to whichever option hurts Israel the more. The BBC already intentionally glorifies terrorism by describing terrorists as “militants” – to give them some sort of justification for murdering civilians.

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