BBC’s Bateman again whitewashes Palestinian violence

At around 4 p.m. on Friday, December 2nd, an incident took place in the town of Huwara in Area B.

“The incident occurred after a Palestinian terrorist attempted to break into a vehicle with an Israeli couple inside, the Israel Border Police reported. After he realized the car door was locked, he tried to break into it using a stone, before being shot by the driver – an IDF officer on leave.

The wounded terrorist then approached a team of Border Police soldiers and stabbed one of them. The company commander apprehended and shot the terrorist after a short struggle in which he tried to steal the officer’s weapon.

The wounded officer was evacuated from the scene of the stabbing for medical treatment, and the terrorist’s death was determined at the scene of the attack.”

The ITIC later reported that:

“The Fatah movement in Usarin [the attacker’s place of residence] issued a mourning notice for him, noting he belonged to its ranks.”

Four days later, on December 6th, the BBC News website published a report by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman which opens with the following clear misrepresentation of the incident:

“An eyewitness to the killing of a Palestinian by Israeli forces has told the BBC he believes the man was shot simply for punching a policeman.” [emphasis added]

Headlined “Witnesses challenge Israeli policeman’s killing of Palestinian”, that report is the latest in a series by Bateman (see ‘related articles’ below) in recent months promoting the notion of excessive responses to Palestinian violence on the part of Israeli security forces.

As in the past, Bateman’s portrayal of the background to his story promotes equivalence between “more than 150 Palestinians” – a high proportion of whom (as confirmed by a Fatah official) were terrorists and/or people engaged in violent rioting against Israeli forces – and Israelis killed in terror attacks, the vast majority of whom were civilians.

“This year in the West Bank more than 150 Palestinians have been killed, nearly all by Israeli forces. The dead include unarmed civilians, militant gunmen and armed attackers.

Meanwhile a series of Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis, as well as militant gunfire at troops during arrest raids, have killed more than 30 people including civilians, police and soldiers.”

In what has become standard BBC practice, Bateman avoided providing any explanation of the factors behind the rise in the number of terror attacks this year and refrained from clarifying that Israeli forces’ activities in Judea & Samaria include counter-terrorism operations in response to attacks and planned attacks.

Despite noting that a video of part of the incident in Huwara is available online, Bateman chose not to include that footage in his report, meaning that readers could not judge his interpretation of it for themselves. Under the sub-heading “Incident filmed” Bateman tells readers:

“The footage from Friday, shared extensively online, was rare in capturing in detail part of the event that led up to the shooting. The last 13 seconds are caught in a second video from another angle.

In the recording, the Israeli officer is seen holding Mr Mefleh in a headlock as the pair struggle. Two other Palestinians are in the melee at first, but then step back.

After Mr Mefleh struggles out of the headlock, he tries to grab the policeman’s rifle. As they wrestle over the weapon the officer takes a hand off it – first to try to hit the Palestinian, who strikes him back – then to reach for his pistol.

Mr Mefleh for a split second has hold of the rifle but almost instantly throws it down or lets go of it, recoiling as he sees the officer raise his pistol. The policeman shoots him instantly, four times.”

Bateman’s report includes a link to a police statement put out on Twitter and an account given by the officer concerned under the sub-heading “Disputed account” and next goes on to tell readers that:

“However, the accounts of four eyewitnesses who spoke to the BBC in Huwara did not match the police version of events.”

Having uncritically promoted the claims of those “four eyewitnesses”, Bateman goes on to cast doubt on the involvement of a knife in the earlier stages of the incident, despite the police having provided photographs of the weapon and the wounded officer’s face.

“Asked whether Mr Mefleh had a knife, all four witnesses insisted he did not. No weapon is visible in Mr Mefleh’s hands or anywhere in the photo of him lying wounded after being shot by the Israeli driver.”

Throughout his report, Bateman cites examples of reactions to the incident from one particular angle:

“Video of the shooting drew a massive reaction online and sparked a diplomatic rebuke by Israel to a top UN official who said he was “horrified” at the killing. […]

Palestinian leaders described it as an execution “in cold blood”.”

That ‘execution’ theme was copiously promoted on Palestinian social media in the hours after the incident, including by frequent BBC interviewee Husam Zomlot.

Once again it is amply clear that the aim of this latest report by Bateman on the topic of a Palestinian killed by Israeli forces is to advance the delegitimising narrative of ‘excessive’ and ‘disproportionate’ use of force by Israeli soldiers and policemen who so far this year have had to deal with well over two thousand Palestinian terror attacks and countless incidents of armed attacks and violent rioting during counter-terrorism operations.

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  1. says: Neil C

    I do not understand how it can be legal for Bateman to misrepresent events in such a way. There has to be a line drawn in the sand with penalties for crossing that line and deliberately misrepresenting events. Why does Bateman have a work visa to lie about the Jewish state? Ban him, revoke his work license and visa. #defundthebbc

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