As was noted in a BBC News website report about a counter-terrorism operation in Nablus (Schem) on October 25th, the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman visited that city later in the day, producing filmed reports that were aired on BBC One and BBC World and an audio report which was aired on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Six O’Clock News’ (from 17:46 here).
Listeners to that news bulletin once again heard members of a terrorist group portrayed merely as “Palestinians”: [emphasis in bold added]
Newsreader: “Thousands of Palestinians have marched through the streets of Nablus in the occupied West Bank for the funerals of five Palestinians killed in a raid by Israeli forces. Israel says it was responding to the killing of a soldier earlier this month. Palestinian leaders have described the raids in the West Bank as a war crime. Reporting from Nablus, our Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman.”
Following a description of the scene and an interview with a “neighbour” who also appeared in his filmed reports, Bateman told listeners that:
Bateman: “The Israeli raid started around midnight. Residents say it was bigger than anything in 15 years, sparking armed clashes with Palestinian gunmen. Israel said it was targeting the base and explosives factory of the Lion’s Den – an emergent Palestinian militant group which has rapidly developed a popular base via social media.”
Failing to mention that terror group’s record of attacks, Bateman went on:
Bateman: “A commander was killed along with two other gunmen. [recording shouting] Palestinians used loudspeakers to call on locals to defend their city. Men poured onto the streets. In another serious development, there was an exchange of fire between the Israeli troops and the official internationally backed Palestinian security forces, sparking further fears the situation in the occupied West Bank could rapidly worsen.”
Once again BBC audiences were not told that Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades put out a statement claiming that its men, along with members of the Palestinian Authority security forces, were involved in that exchange of fire. Neither were they informed that this is by no means the first time this year that PA security forces personnel (some of whom also belong to terror groups) have taken part in terror attacks or gunfights – a topic which the BBC has to date repeatedly avoided.
Bateman continued with a ‘chicken and egg’ portrayal of the background to this story, once again failing to clarify that Israel’s operations come in response to rising terrorism:
Bateman: “Israel’s search and arrest raids this year have led to mounting Palestinian deaths, amid a deadly wave of violence by Palestinians against Israelis. The Palestinian leadership called for international help, describing the raids as a war crime. Israel’s prime minister said they’d intended to strike hard and that he wouldn’t allow cities to become a refuge for terrorism.”
That false portrayal of operations against armed terrorists responsible for attacks against civilians and security personnel as “a war crime” was made by the Palestinian Authority president’s spokesman:
“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was establishing “urgent contacts in order to stop this aggression against our people,” his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeinah said as fighting appeared to rage in Nablus.
In a later statement, Abu Rudeinah said the deaths are “a war crime and the Israeli government bears full responsibility for its consequences.””
The PA later put out a statement detailing the kind of “international help” it seeks.
The glib and uncritical amplification of specious claims of “war crimes” by both Tom Bateman and the newsreader clearly did nothing to help BBC audiences understand this specific story or the wider issues that are serially under-reported by the BBC such as the Palestinian Authority’s policy of rewarding terrorists, its loss of control over parts of the area it governs and its failure to meet its obligations to combat terrorism, even when perpetrated by members of its own security forces.