BBC News equates rocket attacks on civilians with strikes on military targets

Several hours after an IDF counter-terrorism operation last week in Nablus, terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched six rockets at Israeli communities in the Ashkelon, Sderot and Sha’ar HaNegev districts. Five of the missiles were intercepted and one landed in open ground. The IDF subsequently carried out retaliatory strikes on Hamas terror assets in the Gaza Strip.

Around seven hours later, on February 23rd, the BBC News website published a report by David Gritten titled ‘Gaza-Israel exchange of fire follows deadly West Bank raid’ which opens in typical ‘last first’ BBC style:

“The Israeli military has carried out air strikes in the Gaza Strip after Palestinian militants in the territory fired rockets at southern Israel.

Six rockets were launched from Gaza at dawn, five of which were intercepted, the military said. Shortly afterwards, Israeli warplanes hit what it identified as two Hamas militant sites.

No-one is reported to have been hurt.”

The BBC’s portrayal of those events as an “exchange of fire” fails to adequately clarify that while the targets of the IDF’s actions were military assets belonging to a terrorist organisation, the targets of the missile fire that prompted Israel’s response were sleeping civilians.

Nevertheless, similar promotion of false equivalence between attacks on civilians – i.e. terrorism – and strikes on military targets was found in additional BBC reporting: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

BBC World Service radio, ‘Newshour’, February 23rd:

Menendez: “Let’s turn to the Middle East now where there are growing fears that the latest outbreak of violence between Israel and the Palestinians may be spinning out of control. Wednesday’s raid by Israeli forces against suspected militants in the city of Nablus left 11 Palestinians dead, fighters and civilians, and many more were injured. Well that sparked an exchange of fire across the border with Gaza. Six rockets were fired from there into Israel and Israel carried out airstrikes overnight.” [from 30:05 here]

BBC World Service radio, ‘Newshour’, February 23rd:

Coomarasamy: “There was a familiar overnight exchange of rocket fire between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip following an increasingly familiar Israeli raid on the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday.” [from 30:06 here]

Gritten’s report goes on to make additional use of the term “exchange”:

“The exchange follows an Israeli raid in Nablus in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday which killed 11 Palestinians.”

“Following the exchange of fire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting: “We will continue to take strong action on all fronts, near and far, in order to thwart our enemies’ efforts to attack us. Whoever tries to harm us will pay the price.””

Gritten’s description of the counter-terrorism operation in Nablus includes the following:

“Local hospitals have been struggling to treat dozens of people who were injured, many with bullet wounds.

One doctor told the BBC’s Tom Bateman that this was one of the worst events of this kind that he had seen in recent years.

A 15-year-old boy with a wound to the leg said he had been standing near militants when he was hit by Israeli gunfire.” [emphasis added]

However, in at least two radio reports, Bateman spoke to “a 15-year-old boy with a wound to the leg” who gave a decidedly different account:

BBC World Service radio, ‘Newsday’, February 23rd:

Bateman: “…on the ward we visited there were at least eight people with bullet wounds. I spoke to a 15-year-old boy who’d been shot in the leg. He said he’d been throwing stones towards the soldiers.” [from 38:48 here]

BBC World Service radio, ‘Newshour’, February 23rd:

Bateman: “In the hospitals the wounded and their relatives pour in. 15-year-old Islam says he threw stones towards the soldiers. He got a bullet in the leg.” [from 30:06 here]

As in many of the BBC’s radio reports relating to the counter-terrorism operation in Nablus as well as the BBC News website’s earlier report, Gritten promotes the talking points of the Palestinian Authority and terrorist organisations concerning a counter-terrorism operation in which over half of those killed were armed terrorists.

“A senior Palestinian official called it a “massacre”, while Hamas said its patience was “running out” and Palestinian Islamic Jihad said it had a “duty” to respond.”

Gritten’s report closes with the now standard promotion of false equivalence between Palestinian terror attacks and Israeli counter-terrorism operations.

“Israel has intensified its search-and-arrest raids in the West Bank over the past year, saying it is trying to stem the spate of deadly Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis.

So far this year, more than 60 Palestinians – militants and civilians – have been killed, while 10 Israelis and a Ukrainian have been killed in the same period.”

Once again the BBC refrained from informing its audiences that while ten of the eleven Israelis and foreign nationals murdered in January and February 2023 were civilians, the overwhelming majority of the Palestinians killed were terrorists or males engaged in violence at the time.

Related Articles:


More from Hadar Sela
Weekend long read
1) At the INSS, Eden Kaduri analyses ‘The Campaign between the Wars...
Read More
Join the Conversation


  1. says: Neil C

    Typical Bateman chorus and melody perhaps someone can arrange for Bateman to be on the receiving end one day, he might sing a different song #defundthebbc #journalismisdead

Leave a comment
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *