The March 7th edition of the BBC World Service’s ‘Global News Podcast’ was titled “Six Palestinians killed in Israeli army raid in Jenin” and its synopsis began:
“Israel claims one of the dead killed two Jewish settlers”
The programme – and that lead item – was introduced by presenter Gareth Barlow as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]
Barlow: “…and in the early hours of Wednesday the 8th of March, these are our main stories. The Israeli prime minister defends a raid on a refugee camp in which six men were killed according to Palestinian health officials.”
The event that is the topic of this BBC report took place earlier on March 7th when the IDF carried out a counter-terrorism operation in Jenin with the aim of apprehending a terrorist suspected of the murders of Hillel and Yagel Yaniv on February 26th. As noted here previously, the BBC News website did not produce any stand-alone reporting on that terror attack.
At 01:08 Barlow introduced that lead item:
Barlow: “Let’s start in the occupied West Bank where Israeli troops killed six Palestinians on Tuesday in a raid on a refugee camp in Jenin. Israel claims that one of the dead was a man who killed two Jewish settlers last month in the town of Huwara. Funerals for the Palestinians were held in Jenin soon after the raid. [recording of chanting including ‘Allahu Akbar’] For Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu the raid was a victory following the deaths of the settlers, who were brothers.”
Voice over Netanyahu: “The soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force today eliminated the abominable terrorist who murdered in cold blood the brothers Hillel and Yagil Yaniv. Our brave warriors operated surgically in the heart of the murderer’s den. As I say again and again, time and time again, whoever hurts us, his blood is on his head.”
BBC audiences around the world would no doubt have difficulty understanding that literal translation of the Hebrew phrase “his blood is on his head”. The official English language translation of Netanyau’s remarks used the more comprehensible phrase “Whoever harms us will pay the price”.
Barlow then brought in the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell.
Barlow: “For more on the raid I spoke to our Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell.”
Knell: “Witnesses reported heavy exchanges of gunfire. There were videos that started circulating on social media where you could see smoke billowing from a building in the camp. You could see a long line of military vehicles, helicopters flying over those. The Israeli military has now put out a statement saying that it used shoulder-launched missiles and pursued this wanted man inside the camp.”
Knell provided no explanation of those “heavy exchanges of gunfire” and listeners were therefore not aware that the Israeli forces encountered massive gunfire during which two security personnel were injured and the other five Palestinians were killed. Likewise, no explanation of the “smoke billowing” is given and listeners are not informed that the terrorist had holed himself up inside that building. Knell continued:
Knell: “Now we understand that he was Abdel Fattah Kharousha…ehm…a man of 49…ahm…and that he was a member of the Palestinian militant group Hamas who actually came from Nablus. He’d served time in an Israeli jail and was released late last year; that’s according to Palestinian sources. And the Israeli military – ehm…Israeli officials – are saying that he carried out the attack which killed two brothers from a settlement. We know also there was another raid that took place at the same time as this and that led to the two sons of this 49 year-old man being arrested.”
Listeners were not informed that Kharousha had been imprisoned for purchasing weapons and planning a terror attack. Neither were they informed that all of the five additional dead were claimed by terrorist organisations:
Muhammad Wael Ghazawi, 26, claimed by Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.
Tariq Ziad Mustafa Natour, 27, claimed by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Ziad Amin Zaraini, 29, claimed by Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and also an officer in the PA customs department.
Mutasim Nasser Sabbagh, 22, claimed by Hamas.
Muhammad Ahmad Salim Khalouf, 22, claimed by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Apparently referring to Jenin, Barlow went on:
Barlow: “This has been such a flashpoint, such a hotspot in recent months between the two sides.”
Listeners were told nothing of the reasons why Jenin has become a “hotspot” but they did hear some second-guessing from Knell:
Knell: “I mean the Israeli military would say that the force it used was appropriate because it was acting on the murders of two Israeli civilians – or one actually was still serving in the military but at the time they were apparent civilians just returning to their home in a settlement outside of Huwara. We’ve had a statement from a spokesperson for the Palestinian president in Ramallah saying that this was a dangerous escalation, the Israeli government’s responsible, accusing it of waging all-out war.”
As noted by his grandfather at his funeral, Hillel Yaniv had recently finished his service in the navy and although still technically a soldier, was studying at a yeshiva as part of the Hesder program, which combines Torah study and IDF service. His younger brother Yagel had yet to join the IDF.
Knell closed that three minute and twenty-two second item by introducing another topic:
Knell: “But of course there has been so much international condemnation of the recent violence that has taken place. I mean after that attack which killed the two brothers from the settlement near Huwara, you saw perhaps 400 Jewish settlers who stormed into Huwara in revenge, setting fire to dozens of cars and Palestinian homes. There was one Palestinian man who was shot dead there as well in a village nearby and more than a hundred Palestinians were injured. That caused a lot of shock because although settler violence is an ongoing issue, this was one of the most violent incidents of its kind by Israeli settlers.”
As we see, the words “settlers”, “settler” and “settlements” were mentioned a total of eight times in this report supposedly about a counter-terrorism operation in Jenin. The word “Hamas” was mentioned once and the terms “Palestinian Islamic Jihad” and “Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades” did not appear at all despite their relevance to the story.
The same pattern was seen in a written report on the same topic produced by Yolande Knell and one of her colleagues earlier on March 7th.
As we have recently repeatedly had cause to document (see ‘related articles’ below), the airbrushing of terrorist organisations from coverage of Palestinian terrorism and Israeli counter-terror operations has become a regular BBC feature.