The original version of that report was headlined “Israeli strikes kill Islamic Jihad commanders in Gaza” and readers were informed that: [emphasis added]
“At least 12 Palestinians, including three commanders of the militant group Islamic Jihad, have been killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.”
At no point in that report were BBC audiences told that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a terrorist organisation which is designated by the EU, the US, the UK, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. Readers were also not provided with any information concerning the financial and military sponsorship provided to the PIJ by Iran.
Despite the fact that the PIJ does not provide any social services to the people of the Gaza Strip, Gritten nevertheless promoted the notion of separate ‘wings’ to that terrorist organisation:
“Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the al-Quds Brigades, confirmed that three commanders were among those killed.
It identified them as Jihad Shaker al-Ghannam, secretary of the al-Quds Brigades’ Military Council; Khalil Salah al-Bahtini, the commander of its Northern Region, and Tariq Muhammad Ezzedine, a leader of its military activities in the occupied West Bank.”
Readers were not informed that the “secretary of the al-Quds Brigades’ Military Council” was involved in the 2004 shooting attack near the Kissufim crossing (which was reported by the BBC at the time) in which Tali Hatuel, her unborn baby and her four daughters were murdered.
The report’s presentation of the background to the strikes on the three PIJ leaders was confined to its last paragraph:
“Islamic Jihad was behind recent rounds of rocket fire into Israel, some of which was sparked by the death in an Israeli prison of a Palestinian hunger striker.”
That sentence failed to inform readers that – as Gritten knows because he reported the story only last week – the PIJ launched over a hundred rockets attacks against civilian targets (rather than merely “into Israel”) and three people were wounded.
Several hours after its initial appearance Gritten’s report (which, interestingly, is not tagged ‘Palestinian Islamic Jihad’) was amended, including a change to the headline which now reads “Israeli strikes on Gaza kill top militants and 10 civilians”.
Once again the minimalist portrayal of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad provided to readers avoids the use of the word terrorist, fails to note the organisation’s designation as a terrorist organisation by numerous countries around the world and whitewashes its Iranian backing:
“Officially known as Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the militant group is the biggest in Gaza next to Hamas.
It has been responsible for many of the rocket attacks on Israel from the territory in recent years and is sworn to Israel’s destruction.”
Once again readers are provided with a picture of the background to the latest events which excludes those wounded in last week’s attacks and fails to clarify that their targets were Israeli civilians:
“There was a serious flare-up last week, as Islamic Jihad and other groups fired several barrages of rockets into Israel over two days, following the death in an Israeli prison of a Palestinian hunger striker. The Israeli military carried out air strikes in response.”
Moreover, readers are told that:
“The strikes [on May 9th] were the deadliest since three days of hostilities between Israel and Islamic Jihad last August, in which 49 Palestinians were killed in Gaza.”
That paragraph refers to Operation Breaking Dawn. Of the 49 Palestinian fatalities during that operation, eleven were killed by shortfall rockets fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organisation. Of the remaining 38 casualties killed by IDF fire, twenty (52%) were operatives from various terrorist organisations including twelve belonging to the PIJ. That relevant information is nevertheless not provided to BBC audiences.
The involvement of one of the PIJ leaders targeted in the murders of the Hatuel family in 2004 is also absent from the updated version of the report but the notion of separate wings to the PIJ is promoted again:
“Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the al-Quds Brigades, confirmed the deaths of three of its commanders, along with their wives and a number of their children. It identified them as:
- Jihad Shaker al-Ghannam, secretary of the al-Quds Brigades’ Military Council
- Khalil Salah al-Bahtini, the commander of its Northern Region
- Tariq Mohammed Ezzedine, “one of the heads of military action” in the occupied West Bank”
Gritten tells readers that:
“Russia announced that one of its citizens, Dr Jamal Khaswan, a former chairman of the Gaza Dentists’ Association, was killed along with his wife Mervat and their 21-year-old son Youssef. […]
Dr Wafai al-Sousi, a friend and colleague of Dr Khaswan, condemned what he called the “cowardly targeting” of the family.
“I was very surprised. He was just an incredible doctor… with a good reputation. He did not belong to any political party and never worked with any military entity,” he told the BBC.
Palestinian sources said Dr Khaswan lived in an apartment in Gaza City close to one of the militants who was killed.”
Gritten however fails to challenge the inaccurate claim that Dr Khaswan was ‘targeted’.
Later in the report readers find some superfluous punctuation:
“Later on Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said one of its aircraft struck a “terrorist squad” carrying anti-tank missiles in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza.
Smoke was seen rising from a burning car after the strike. The Gaza health ministry said two people were killed and two others injured.”
Those PIJ operatives were transporting missiles to a launch site at the time.
Gritten closes his report with two paragraphs on the topic of a counter-terrorism operation elsewhere:
“Israeli forces also carried out a raid in the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday.
Palestinian media reported that two Palestinians were detained and 13 others shot and injured during confrontations with the troops. Israeli media said a soldier was lightly injured when a bomb exploded beside his armoured vehicle.”
BBC audiences were not informed that the Lions’ Den terrorist group claimed responsibility for that IED attack as well as for shooting at the members of the Israeli security forces.
Both versions of this report clearly fell short of adequately informing readers with regard to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s terror designations, its Iranian backing and its record of terror attacks – including missile fire – against Israeli civilians. That of course means that BBC audiences lack the context necessary in order to fully understand Israel’s actions.