BBC fails to fully report terror group links of Palestinian fatalities

On the afternoon of May 22nd a report by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell was published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page under the headline ‘Palestinian gunmen among three killed in Israeli Nablus raid’.

The report relates to a counter-terrorism operation which had taken place early on the morning of the same day in Balata and Knell informs readers that:

“Three Palestinians have been shot dead and several wounded by Israeli forces in Nablus, in the occupied West Bank. […]

Funerals have taken place for the three men who were killed during the latest raid in Nablus. Two have been identified as fighters from the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction.”

In fact, by the time Knell’s report was published the AAMB had claimed all three of the fatalities.

Knell continues:

“Palestinian sources say these two men were killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli forces, while it was unclear if the third man had joined in the fighting.

Security camera footage being shared on social media, which cannot immediately be independently verified by the BBC, appears to show that one man was unarmed when shot while approaching a soldier.” [emphasis added]

In other words, despite not having been able to verify what those eighteen seconds of context-free footage promoted on social media by a Palestinian activist (whose lack of objectivity was amply apparent in a BBC interview last October) actually show, the BBC was nevertheless happy to promote the unverified claim that a person it presumes was “a soldier” shot an “unarmed” man called Mohammed Zeitoun who was later claimed by a terrorist organisation.

The IDF’s statement on the operation includes the following:

“During the operation in the camp, IDF forces exchanged fire and neutralised two armed terrorists. Two weapons of the M16 type were found on the terrorists who were neutralised. Also, during the operation suspects threw rocks and IEDs at the soldiers. In addition, gunfire was exchanged and armed men shot at the soldiers who responded with gunfire, hits were identified.”

Knell’s reporting promotes second-hand claims from Palestinian sources:

“Witnesses described hearing gunfire and explosions as Israeli troops raided several houses in the crowded Balata refugee camp, in what they said was the biggest operation there in years. […]

Palestinian reports said that Israeli troops entered Balata camp accompanied by bulldozers and that they blocked ambulances from entering.

“All night we didn’t sleep, we stayed awake, we were afraid, in horror,” a resident of the camp, Um Abdullah, told al-Quds TV.

“We were sitting inside the house and a friend of my son called to say: ‘They’re going to demolish the house next-door, you need to leave.’ Within a few seconds they demolished the house and our windows and doors fell down. We stayed inside and then ran away.””

Readers also find a short account of an IDF statement:

“The Israeli military says gunmen shot at its soldiers, who returned fire.

It says the soldiers found three M16 rifles, ammunition and an explosives workshop. Three arrests were made.”

BBC audiences are not informed that the dozens of kilograms of explosives intended for the purpose of terrorism which were found in that “workshop” were destroyed by the IDF at the site. Neither does Knell inform her readers that the “three arrests” made were of terror suspects.

Knell does however provide amplification for an obviously exaggerated and inaccurate statement from a PA official:

“In a statement, the spokesman for the Palestinian presidency, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, condemned what he called “a real massacre and a continuation of the all-out war Israel is waging against the Palestinian people”.

He called for the US administration to intervene to put a stop “to the Israeli madness that will drag the region towards an explosion”.”

By way of background Knell tells her readers that: [emphasis added]

“Israeli-Palestinian violence has been intensifying for months with near-nightly Israeli military raids in the West Bank and rising settler violence as well as a series of deadly attacks by Palestinians on Israelis.”

Clearly that paragraph does not properly clarify that the Israeli operations are the outcome of rising Palestinian terrorism which the BBC has yet to adequately explain to its audiences.

Knell again confuses cause and effect later on in her report:

“Overnight, the Israeli military says it made more than a dozen arrests across the West Bank, including three in Jenin. Like Nablus, Jenin has recently seen a concentration of Israeli army raids and has been a hotbed for Palestinian militants.”

Knell closes her report as follows:

“On Sunday, the Israeli military said a soldier was lightly wounded in a car ramming attack in the village of Hawara, close to Nablus. A search for the driver is continuing.

Earlier this month, two Palestinians were killed and others wounded by Israeli army gunfire during another arrest raid in Balata camp.”

As reported by the Times of Israel the evening before Knell’s report appeared:

“Beilinson hospital in Petah Tikva says the soldier’s condition is moderate, not light as initially reported.”

The “two Palestinians” killed during the May 13th counter-terrorism operation in Balata were in fact claimed by the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

That information was available in the public domain days before the BBC published this latest report by Knell, meaning that there is no reason why BBC audiences should once again not have been informed that the “two Palestinians” were terror operatives who were attacking Israeli soldiers at the time they were killed.

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