BBC reporting on PIJ continues to leave readers underinformed

Previously we looked at the BBC News website’s initial report concerning Operation Shield and Arrow on May 9th:


As noted, 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 and readers were not provided with any information concerning the financial and military sponsorship provided to the PIJ by Iran.

As the operation continued, the BBC News website published additional reports which, like that initial article, were not tagged with the name of the terrorist organisation that is their topic.

On May 10th a report by David Gritten that was originally headlined ‘Gaza militants fire rockets after new Israeli air strikes’ appeared on the website’s ‘Middle East’ page. The headline was later amended to read ‘Israel and Gaza militants in heaviest fighting for months’ and the updated version was credited to Raffi Berg and David Gritten.

As in its initial report on the operation, the BBC continued to skirt the issue of terrorism, describing the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a “militant group” and failing to provide relevant background concerning its Iranian funding and its record of terror attacks.

“The Islamic Jihad (PIJ), which is the second biggest militant group in the territory after Hamas…”

The report’s portrayal of Palestinian fatalities includes the following:

“Six people were killed and 45 injured in Gaza, local medics say. […]

It comes a day after 15 Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza, including three Islamic Jihad leaders.”

BBC audiences were once again not informed that one of those “three Islamic Jihad leaders” orchestrated a shooting attack in 2004 in which Tali Hatuel, her unborn baby and her four daughters were murdered. Neither did the BBC report that another – Tareq Izz ed-Din – directed Islamic Jihad terror activities in the West Bank from Gaza. Quoting the head of the ISA, the Times of Israel reported that:

“Bar said that Izz ed-Din directed 20 terror cells targeting Israel, with one of them located in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank.

“In recent weeks, [the cell] had begun producing rockets and launchers” to fire at Israel, Bar said, calling it “a dangerous precedent.”

The Shin Bet chief said members of the cell were arrested by Israel and had since confessed. […]

Bar went on to reveal an additional cell in Ramallah that was planning to launch attack drones into Israel but was similarly foiled by security forces.”

Refraining from informing readers that “the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza” is a branch of the Hamas terrorist organisation, the BBC’s report later states:

“The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza reported that six people were killed in Israeli strikes. Four of them were members of the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the group said, adding that two died in Khan Younis and the other two in Rafah. A 10-year-old girl was also killed in Gaza City in unclear circumstances.”

The BBC refrained from clarifying that the four PFLP operatives killed on May 10th were members of rocket launching squads. While the ten-year-old girl is not named by the BBC, a child of that age was killed in the same location by a shortfall missile fired by Palestinian terrorists, along with another minor. Two other people, including a minor, were killed by a shortfall missile in a different location.

The BBC’s report fails to clarify that the civilians killed in the operation’s initial strikes were either family members of the PIJ terrorists targeted or neighbours who were present in the same building at the time.

“The IDF launched Operation Shield and Arrow in the early hours of Tuesday with several waves of strikes across Gaza that killed 13 Palestinians.

Three were PIJ commanders who the IDF said were involved in recent attacks against Israeli civilians and were planning more. But the other 10 dead were civilians, including four women and four children.”

Notably, Berg and Gritten avoided providing readers with the relevant context of the long-standing use of human shields by terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.

The BBC’s report also states:

“Another two Palestinians were killed on Tuesday afternoon in a strike that the IDF said targeted militants planning to fire anti-tank missiles.”

Readers are not informed that those “two Palestinians” were members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad on their way to launch an attack.

The background to the IDF’s operation appears only in the third paragraph from the end of the BBC’s report:

“There was a serious flare-up last week, as PIJ and other groups fired more than 100 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 on sites it said were linked to Hamas in response.”

In the report’s final paragraph readers are informed that:

“Two Palestinians were killed in the town of Qabatiya by Israeli forces, who said the pair fired at them. The IDF also said a soldier was also seriously wounded during a separate exchange of fire with Palestinian gunmen in Tubas.”

Once again BBC audiences were not told that the “two Palestinians” were Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives.

Unfortunately for BBC audiences trying to understand this story, there is nothing novel about the BBC’s failure to provide its audiences with essential background concerning the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – not least to portray it accurately as a terrorist organisation rather than a “militant group”  – or the failure to adequately distinguish between “Palestinians killed” and terror operatives. Both those practices were evident in BBC reporting on previous operations against the PIJ in 2019 and 2022

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