BBC reports on attacks from Lebanon exclude essential information

On the first day of the Pessah festival – April 6th – Israelis residing and holidaying in the Western Galilee were attacked with rockets fired from Lebanese territory.

“Thirty-four rockets were fired from southern Lebanon on Thursday afternoon, with 25 intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system over northern Israel, the military said. At least three people were injured and several buildings were damaged. […]

Incoming rocket sirens first sounded in the towns of Betzet and Shlomi in the Western Galilee close to the border with Lebanon. The Israel Defense Forces said one rocket was identified and intercepted by the Iron Dome. Shortly afterward, sirens continued to sound in other towns across the area. […]

The Magen David Adom rescue service said one man was lightly injured by shrapnel and a woman was hurt running for a bomb shelter. The Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya said it was treating two people lightly hurt by shrapnel, including one of the patients brought in by the MDA.

A 26-year-old man, a resident of Yanuh Jat, was lightly hurt after being hit by shrapnel while driving a motorcycle near Shlomi, the hospital said.

The second man, a 19-year-old from Fassuta, was hit by shrapnel while driving in the village. […]

The rockets caused damage to several buildings and vehicles and sparked several fires.

A bank in a Western Galilee shopping mall sustained heavy damage, where locals said the area would have been teeming with people were it not for the Passover festival, and a building used to store agricultural equipment was destroyed on Moshav Betzet.”

The BBC News website’s first report on that story appeared on the evening of April 6th and was updated several times in the hours that followed. Credited to Lucy Williamson and David Gritten and headlined “Israel blames Hamas for Lebanon rocket barrage as tensions rise”, that report opens with amplification of Hamas denials of involvement in the attacks and goes on to describe “outrage” at earlier events on Temple Mount, once again without any mention of the Hamas incitement which preceded those events.

“The Israeli military has accused the Palestinian militant group Hamas of firing dozens of rockets from southern Lebanon into northern Israel.

It said most of the 34 rockets were intercepted but that five hit Israeli territory, causing damage to buildings.

One man was lightly wounded by shrapnel, according to medics.

Hamas said it had no information about who fired the missiles. The attack was the biggest single barrage from Lebanon in 17 years.

It comes at a time of rising tensions. There has been outrage in the region at the actions of the Israeli police, who have raided the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem – Islam’s third holiest site – for the past two nights, triggering violent confrontations with Palestinians inside.”

Later in the report readers are told that:

“Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Richard Hecht said they believed Hamas was behind the attack and that it was possible the militant group Islamic Jihad was also involved.

He added that they assumed the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war with Israeli in 2006, knew about the attack, and that they suspected there was Iranian involvement.

Hamas has confirmed to the BBC that the attacks came during a visit to Beirut by its leader, Ismail Haniyeh.

But a Hamas official told the BBC the visit was prepared in advance and had nothing to do with recent developments. It said it did not have any information about who fired the missiles.

Mr Haniyeh was later quoted by AFP news agency as saying that “our Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance groups will not sit idly by” in the face of Israel’s “savage aggression” against the al-Aqsa mosque.”

Despite their uncritical amplification of Haniyeh’s messaging, Williamson and Gritten again refrained from informing their readers of the weeks of Hamas incitement which fuelled the scenes on Temple Mount and readers were not informed that Hamas’ denials of involvement in the rocket fire from Lebanon were apparently given to a BBC correspondent based in the Gaza Strip and then amplified by his colleagues without question or independent confirmation.

Readers were also not given any information on the long-known issue of Hamas’ infrastructure in Lebanon and its collaboration with another Iran-backed terrorist group, Hizballah. As was noted here in December 2021, those topics have been avoided by the BBC for years, meaning that BBC audiences have no background knowledge to help them put the Hamas denials now promoted by Williamson and Gritten into perspective:

“Despite having a major bureau in Beirut, the BBC has shown no interest in investigating the renewal of ties between Hamas and Hizballah in recent years or the build-up of Hamas infrastructure in Lebanon.”

Neither did readers of this report find any mention of the relevant topic of UN Security Council resolution 1701 in the part which states:

“Hezbollah, which controls much of southern Lebanon, had vowed hours before the rocket launches to support “all measures” taken by the Palestinian people “to protect worshippers and the al-Aqsa mosque and to deter the enemy from continuing its attacks”.” [emphasis added]

Despite this report having been updated and amended five times overnight, readers of its final version find no mention of the mortar attacks launched from Lebanon on the town of Metula on the evening of April 6th.

The following day – April 7th – that report was replaced by another credited to Williamson and Gritten headlined “Israel strikes Lebanon and Gaza after major rocket attack” which was subsequently amended numerous times.

In that report readers are once again told that Hizballah “controls much of southern Lebanon” and that it ‘hosts’ Hamas “in southern Lebanon” without any reference to UNSC resolution 1701 and its specification that southern Lebanon will be “free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL” and its demand for “full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of 27 July 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese State”.

Once again readers find no information concerning the weeks of Hamas incitement relating to Temple Mount in the part of the report which erases the stockpiling of fireworks and rocks inside Al Aqsa mosque and claims that “Israeli police raids” were the cause of “violent confrontations” rather than the pre-planned actions of provocateurs who refused to leave the site.

“Tensions are high following two nights of Israeli police raids at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem earlier this week.

The raids triggered violent confrontations with Palestinians inside the mosque, which is Islam’s third holiest site, and caused anger across the region.”

The report states:

“Hamas did not say that it fired the rockets from Lebanon, which was the biggest such barrage in 17 years.

But its leader Ismail Haniyeh, who was visiting Beirut at the time, said Palestinians would not “sit with their arms crossed” in the face of Israeli aggression.”

Yet again readers are not given any information concerning the highly relevant issue of Hamas’ infrastructure in Lebanon and its ongoing collaboration with the Iranian proxy Hizballah, meaning that BBC audiences lack the background and context needed in order to properly understand that the story which is the topic of these two reports is not about reactions to incidents on Temple Mount but actually concerns a much broader effort by Iranian funded terrorist organisations to simultaneously ignite violence on several fronts.

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