The following day – February 24th – listeners to the same programme heard another item [from 45:05 here] on the same topic which was introduced by presenter Julian Marshall as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]
Marshall: “The city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank has become a focal point for increased tensions between Israel and the Palestinians with the emergence of a group called Lions’ Den. Israel has occupied – or rather accused – the group of carrying out attacks on Israeli targets including the killing in October of a soldier in the West Bank.”
The incident to which Marshall referred is the fatal shooting of Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch. The Lions’ Den claimed responsibility for that attack so his use of the word “accused” is clearly out of place and even misleading. Referring to the counter-terrorism operation two days earlier he continued:
Marshall: “On Wednesday Israeli forces carried out a massive raid on Nablus in which eleven Palestinians were killed in gun battles, among them six members of Lions’ Den or other armed groups and dozens more were injured.”
In fact, of the six members of the Lions’ Den group killed, three were also members of other terrorist organisations – two from the PIJ and one from the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.
Having mentioned rallies “in support of those killed in Nablus”, Marshall went on to introduce his sole interviewee:
Marshall: “I’ve been speaking to Raed Debiy, political science lecturer at An Najah University in Nablus. How would he describe the mood in the city today?”
In breach of BBC editorial guidelines concerning ‘contributors’ affiliations’, Marshall refrained from informing listeners that the academic they were about to hear is also a leader of Fatah’s youth movement and a political activist.
Debiy opened with a description of the rallies as “solidarity” and “a message against the occupation and against the apartheid before anything else”. Failing to question or challenge that use of the ‘apartheid’ smear, Marshall went on:
Marshall: “Tell us though about this group Lions’ Den to which many of those killed were affiliated.”
He once again failed to challenge Debiy’s use of the ‘apartheid’ smear when told that the Lions’ Den “represents the Palestinian anger, the Palestinian disappointment, the Palestinian refusing of apartheid and refusing the occupation”, going on:
Marshall: “So the Lions’ Den is an armed resistance group but it’s relatively new, isn’t it?”
Debiy used that cue to describe the terror squad as a “grassroots movement that represent different political affiliations, different political activists, young people born after the second Intifada in 2000”, claiming that they are “defending themselves” and “defending their people when the Israeli attack their villages and cities”.
Marshall made no effort to intervene to clarify that Israel does not “attack…villages and cities” but carries out counter-terrorism operations in order to defend its citizens even when Debiy went on to claim that the Lions’ Den terrorists “practice their right which is guaranteed by international law to defend their people, their dignity and their right in self-determination”.
Marshall: “So what are the stated aims therefore of the Lions’ Den militia?”
Debiy expressed his disagreement with Marshall’s use of the word militia, claiming that “they are freedom fighters looking for freedom and justice for Palestinian people, especially after the double standard from international community when it comes to the Palestinian right of self-determination”. Listeners then heard Debiy compare the Palestinians to Ukraine and by extension, Israel to Russia, before he went on to claim that the “international community closes its eyes to apartheid and occupation since more than 75 year”.
Once again those statements prompted no reaction from Marshall who went on:
Marshall: “So members of Lions’ Den have weapons, they advocate armed resistance to the Israeli occupation but who are and who aren’t legitimate targets in their eyes?”
Marshall remained silent when Debiy claimed that the group “did not target any Israeli civilians inside Israel”, failing to inform listeners that a planned attack on a civilian target inside Israel was thwarted in September when a terrorist who reached Jaffa, armed with an improvised weapon and explosive devices was arrested. Marshall also failed to challenge Debiy’s claim that “according to international law they defend themselves and defend their people” or his fourth use of the ‘apartheid’ smear: “the daily apartheid system in the checkpoints”.
Marshall then gave the cue for more lies from Debiy with a particularly crass and offensive question:
Marshall: “Are settlers legitimate targets for members of Lions’ Den?”
Debiy: “…don’t remember that they target settlers or kill settlers but they kill for example one of the Israeli soldiers near Nablus and in a daily basis they target the Israeli military checkpoints which, by the way, make their actions more moral and more based on values and more based on international law and human rights.”
Attacks claimed by the Lions’ Den faction have included shooting at Har Bracha, shooting at the driver of a taxi, shooting at the driver of a car and shooting at the guard of a civilian community. Marshall however failed to inform his listeners of such attacks on civilians before asking a final question about whether “we” are “on the brink…of another popular Intifada”.
Debiy’s response to that question included another lie which went completely unchallenged:
Debiy: “Until the moment, from the beginning of the year now we have more than 65 Palestinian victims – majority of them from civilians.”
Marshall made no effort to inform listeners that the vast majority of those killed since the beginning of the year were terrorists or people perpetrating violence at the time before closing the item.
There are plenty of experts who could provide BBC audiences with accurate and impartial information about the Lions’ Den terror faction and the broader background in order to enhance their understanding. Instead, ‘Newshour’ chose to give nearly eight minutes of airtime to the promotion of propaganda from an inadequately presented political activist whose plethora of lies, inaccuracies and smears went completely unchallenged.