BBC News once again shoehorns Israel into Gaza Strip reporting

Early on the morning of January 25th a report by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page under the headline ‘The Gaza family tending World War graves for 100 years’.

The report opens with signs of things to come in what is ostensibly an article on a topic which has nothing to do with Israel, given that its subject matter is the maintenance team of a CWGC cemetery in the Gaza Strip.

“The neatly regimented lines of white gravestones, trimmed grass and flowering borders conjure up the vast war cemeteries of northern France and Belgium.

But this final resting place for soldiers killed in the two World Wars is in the Gaza Strip. It makes for an unusual green spot in the overcrowded territory, badly hit by the modern-day Israel-Palestinian conflict.” [emphasis added]

Readers are told that:

“Nowadays, tight border controls imposed by Israel and Egypt make it very difficult for foreign visitors – apart from diplomats, charity workers and journalists – to travel to the Palestinian territory. I needed an Israeli press card and a permit from Hamas, the militant group which governs Gaza, to enter.

But Essam Jaradah, who has retired, remembers different times.

“It was safe here, we used to have very big numbers of visitors. We would sit with them or show them around and life was much more beautiful,” he says. “I used to see people’s emotions, the tears in their eyes at their grandfathers’ graves.””

Knell does not bother to explain why counter-terrorism measures that include those “tight border controls” have been necessary ever since the terrorist organisation that she whitewashes as a “militant group” staged the violent coup that she fails to mention which resulted in it ‘governing’ – as she euphemistically puts it – the Gaza Strip.

Neither does Knell tell readers that while countries which make up the CWGC such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada for obvious reasons advise their citizens not to travel to a territory controlled by a terrorist organisation, despite what she describes as “tight border controls”, over 414 thousand people entered the Gaza Strip via Israel alone in 2022 along with over 133 thousand who entered via Egypt.

Later on in her report Knell again whitewashes the violent Hamas coup of June 2007 and erases the fact that what she euphemistically terms “armed Palestinian groups” are terrorist organisations.

“Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, there have been rounds of intense, deadly, destructive fighting between armed Palestinian groups and Israel.

The cemetery has been hit three times by missile strikes. On one occasion, nearly 300 headstones were damaged and had to be replaced. The turf and flowers need to be replanted after each serious flare-up when the staff are unable to work.

“Each time we come back, we have to return things to how they looked in the past,” Ibrahim explains. “We work in a situation that’s full of challenges.”

These include Gaza’s daily power cuts, severe water shortages and import restrictions which make it hard to replace machinery and sometimes to get fuel for lawnmowers.”

Knell knows full well that the chronic power and water shortages in the Gaza Strip are the result of the long-running rift between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority rather than “rounds of fighting” between terrorists and Israel. She also knows that the “import restrictions” which are part of the counter-terrorism measures relate only to dual use goods that can be used both for civilian and military purposes but she makes no attempt to explain those points.

According to the CWGC website (which includes talking points remarkably similar to some of those promoted by Knell), the lawnmowers in question run on petrol. While imports to the Gaza Strip sometimes have to be reduced or halted during periods of violent conflict, in general petrol and diesel are supplied on a regular basis. Throughout 2022 more than 175 million litres of those fuels were imported into the Gaza Strip via Israel (with more coming in via Egypt) along with 106,449 truckloads of additional commodities.

Sadly for BBC audiences it is not unusual to see reporting from the Gaza Strip on a topic unrelated to Israel being used to promote inadequately explained, politicised talking points.

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  1. says: Grimey

    What motivates Knell to write these heavily biased articles – which she knows contain only persuasive half-truths and/or omissions ?
    The only possible answers are…… (1) deep-seated personal antisemitism,
    (2) deliberate recruitment of such a brain-washed so-called journalist by the BBC’s arabist political office or (3) instructions from the BBC’s Middle East paymaster.
    Simples !

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