BBC News website coverage of Jenin counter-terrorism operation

On the morning of January 26th Israeli forces conducted an operation in Jenin to arrest members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organisation who had been involved in previous terrorist activity and were planning a major terror attack in Israel. During the arrest operation at a hide-out in the Jenin refugee camp, armed Palestinians attacked the Israeli forces with gunfire and petrol bombs. Eight of the attackers – several from the PIJ and some from Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, including one who was also a member of the PA security forces – were killed in the exchanges of fire, several others were wounded (one of whom died three days later) and an uninvolved civilian was also killed in the crossfire.

A couple of hours after news of the operation broke the BBC News website published a report which was originally titledFour Palestinians killed in Israeli raid in Jenin’. Around half an hour later that headline was updated to read ‘Nine Palestinians killed in Israeli raid in Jenin’ and readers found the following:

Clearly that report did not adequately inform BBC audiences that with the exception of the one uninvolved civilian, all of those killed had been involved in violence at the time of their deaths.

The report was amended eleven times throughout the day and early the following morning, with its later version credited to Yolande Knell and David Gritten. Although by that time it was known that the vast majority of those killed were terrorist operatives engaged in violence, the headline and the opening paragraph of the version which remains on the BBC News website as ‘permanent public record’ still refer merely to “Nine Palestinians”.

“Nine Palestinians have been killed during an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank – the deadliest in years – Palestinian officials say.

A woman aged 61 was reported among the dead in the flashpoint town of Jenin.”

In paragraph ten readers are told that:

“The Palestinian health ministry identified three of those killed as Magda Obaid, 61, Saeb Izreiqi, 24, and Izzidin Salahat, 26. Twenty people were also wounded, four of them seriously, it said.”

The report has not been updated to clarify the terrorist connections of Salahat and Izreiqi or any others. Additional fatalities/wounded are uncritically portrayed by the BBC merely as “youths”:

“The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that seven youths were shot and wounded while attempting to prevent the Israeli forces from entering Jenin…”

The report uncritically promotes talking points from the PA and a Hamas official who oversees that terrorist organisation’s activities in Judea & Samaria:

“The Palestinian presidency accused Israel of a “massacre” and later announced it had ended co-ordination with Israel on security matters.”

“As funerals took place, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of national mourning in response to what his spokesman called a “massacre” happening “amidst international silence”.

“This is what encourages the occupation government to commit massacres against our people in full view of the world,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.

Jenin Deputy Governor Kamal Abu al-Rub told AFP that residents were living in a “real state of war” and that Israeli forces were “destroying everything and shooting at everything that moves”.

Top Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri said that “the response of the resistance will not be late in coming”.”

The BBC’s portrayal of the aim of the operation does however include qualifying punctuation.

“The Israeli military said its troops went in to arrest Islamic Jihad “terror operatives” planning “major attacks”. […]

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said its troops entered Jenin to arrest an Islamic Jihad “terror squad”, who it accused of being “heavily involved in planning and executing multiple major terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers”.

It said forces surrounded a building and that three armed suspects were “neutralised” after they opened fire, while a fourth suspect surrendered. The IDF said troops were shot at by other Palestinian gunmen and returned fire, hitting targets. It added it was looking into “claims regarding additional casualties”.”

All twelve versions of the BBC’s report include allegations concerning tear gas made by the PA health minister, with an Israeli response included only from the fifth version onward. The final version states:

“Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances were initially unable to reach the wounded because Israeli troops restricted access to the scene.

The children’s ward of a local hospital was also hit by Israeli tear gas, she said. The IDF told AFP news agency that there was activity not far away and that it was possible some tear gas entered through an open window.”

Other media outlets reported the PA minister’s false allegations and that IDF statement in full:

“In a separate statement, Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila charged that “occupation forces stormed Jenin Government Hospital and intentionally fired tear gas canisters at the pediatric department in the hospital”. She described the situation in the refugee camp as “critical” and said Israeli forces were preventing ambulances from reaching the wounded.

“Israel’s army denied the claim. “No one shot tear gas on purpose at a hospital,” an army spokesman told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “But the activity was not far away from the hospital and it is possible some tear gar entered through an open window.””

The BBC’s report also tells readers that:

“A 10th Palestinian was meanwhile shot and killed during a confrontation with Israeli troops in the town of al-Ram, near Jerusalem, as residents protested against the Jenin raid, Palestinian officials said.”

The BBC neglects to inform its audiences that the 22 year old was launching fireworks at the security forces at the time he was shot.

The report ends with what in recent months has become standard BBC messaging:

“At least 30 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank so far this year, including militants and civilians, as the military continues operations there.

Last year in the West Bank more than 150 Palestinians were killed, nearly all by Israeli forces. The dead included unarmed civilians, militant gunmen and armed attackers.

A series of attacks by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs targeting Israelis, as well as militant gunfire at troops during arrest raids, meanwhile killed more than 30 people including civilians, police and soldiers.”

As has so often been the case in BBC reporting in the past, this BBC article does not clarify that the majority of the Palestinians killed this month and during 2022 were members of terrorist organisations and/or males involved in violent activities at the time, whereas the majority of the Israelis killed last year and all of those murdered this month were civilians.

That editorial policy enables the corporation to continue to promote false equivalence between Israeli counter-terrorism operations and Palestinian terror attacks and between Palestinian terrorist operatives and rioters and Israeli civilians which confuses and misleads audiences.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Neil C

    Anyone who believes a word produced by the BBC Middle East news team these days needs their bumps feeling. Next they will be drawing a moral equivalence between the murder of innocent worshippers going about their daily lives and the deaths of known Islamist terrorists attempting to stop the arrest of the perpetrators in Jenin of that act of terror. Oh sorry Beeb, I forgot, you missed the boat on that one, your disgusting bigot friends at Cair have already done that one #defundthebbc

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