Background lacking in BBC report on Route 65 bombing

On March 15th the BBC News website published a report about a story that had begun a couple of days earlier.

Titled “Israel believes roadside bombing suspect crossed from Lebanon” and written by Tom Bateman and David Gritten, that report relates to events following an attack early on March 13th on Route 65 in northern Israel in which an Israeli citizen was seriously wounded.

Details of the investigation into that terror attack were subsequently placed under a gag order which was lifted on the afternoon of March 15th and the BBC’s report is similar to the ones that then appeared in the local media.

“The Israeli military believes an armed militant crossed the border into Israel from Lebanon, before carrying out a roadside bomb attack on Monday.

The bomb blast in northern Israel severely wounded an Israeli Arab man.

The military now says forces shot the suspected attacker dead in a car close to the border, and that he had an explosive belt, a rifle and a pistol.

It is investigating whether Lebanon’s Hezbollah group is involved, in what would mark a significant escalation.”

Notably, the only clue as to the fact that Hizballah is an internationally proscribed terrorist organisation (including by the UK) comes in the form of a quote:

“The IDF said its current assumption was that the suspect crossed from Lebanon into Israel either on Saturday or Sunday, carried out the bomb attack, and then tried to get back by asking the Israeli to drive him to the border.

It also said it was “examining a possibility of the Hezbollah terrorist organisation being involved”.”

The BBC’s report also purports to provide background to the story:

“Israel and Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, fought a month-long war in 2006. […]

More than 1,000 Lebanese and 159 Israelis were killed in the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, which erupted after Hezbollah militants launched a cross-border attack in which eight Israeli soldiers were killed and two others kidnapped.”

Hizballah simultaneously launched rockets at civilian communities in the north of Israel but that information is absent from the BBC’s portrayal, as is the fact that at least half of the Lebanese dead were Hizballah operatives and over forty of the Israeli casualties were civilians. The BBC’s report goes on to place superfluous punctuation around the term “attack tunnels”:

“The two sides have not been involved in major combat since then, although there have been sporadic clashes and in 2018 Israel said it had discovered a network of “attack tunnels” dug under the border by Hezbollah.”

Those “sporadic clashes” have included cross border attacks, shootings and rocket fire.

As is the case in much of the BBC’s reporting concerning Lebanon, this report makes no mention whatsoever of UNSC resolution 1701 and the fact that according to that resolution, armed Hizballah operatives and Hizballah weapons are not supposed to be anywhere near the border with Israel. That avoidance of the topic of the UNSC resolution which brought the 2006 war to an end enables Bateman and Gritten to close their report with a tepid portrayal of UNIFIL, without mentioning its long-standing failure to meet its mission of enforcing the terms of that resolution.

“UN peacekeepers are deployed along the so-called Blue Line that demarcates the border between Lebanon and Israel, which remain formally at war with each other.”

Also notable is the BBC’s continued avoidance of the relevant topic of reports in recent months concerning Hizballah smuggling of weapons to the areas supposedly under Palestinian Authority control and its cooperation with Palestinian terrorist organisations that have a presence in Lebanon such as Hamas.

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