In August 2021 the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell produced several reports for a variety of BBC platforms on the topic of crime in the Israeli Arab sector:
One of those items was presented as related reading when another report by Knell on the same topic was published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page on the evening of June 8th.
Knell’s latest report – ‘Five men killed in crime-related shooting in Israeli Arab town’ – relates to two incidents which occurred on that day in different locations, one of which is described as follows in the report’s opening paragraphs:
“Five men have been shot dead in Israel in what appears to have been an attack related to criminal gangs.
The mass shooting at a car wash in the Arab town of Yafa an-Naseriyye, near Nazareth, is believed to have been the deadliest such incident in years.
Israeli media suggest it could be linked to a feud between two families.”
Reporting on the same incident, the Times of Israel was able to inform its readers that:
“The fatalities were not immediately identified but reports said the killings were linked to a running feud between the Bakri and Hariri crime families that’s claimed 26 lives.”
The day after the appearance of Knell’s report, the police made eleven related arrests.
Beyond the portrayal of the two June 8th incidents, Knell has nothing new to offer her readers on the topic of the crime wave in the Israeli Arab sector. As in her previous reports she promotes the claim that “many” of Israel’s Arab citizens “prefer to be called” Palestinian, despite the fact that surveys show that the majority do not identify as such.
“In theory, Israeli Arabs – or Palestinian citizens of Israel, as many prefer to be called – have equal rights with Jewish citizens, but they routinely complain of state discrimination.”
Knell also re-promotes the claim of “police inaction” found in her 2021 reports:
“Bereaved families and Arab officials claim that police inaction is one of the main reasons for the endemic violence plaguing their neighbourhoods.”
The topic of the Arab community’s lack of full cooperation with the authorities, including the failure to report some incidents to the police, receives no mention in this latest report from Knell, despite having been mentioned in her previous ones.
Knell tells readers that:
“Most victims are young men but increasingly others are caught up in a violent crime wave linked to illegal guns, family feuds and organised gangs.”
Notably, Knell avoids the relevant issue of women murdered by family members. Her mention of “illegal guns” fails to adequately inform readers as to the scale of that important issue and the smuggling trade that supplies those weapons.
A significant proportion of Knell’s report is given over to statements made by various Israeli politicians, including the following: [emphasis added]
“But Mr Ben-Gvir blamed decades of neglect and lack of governance for the crime wave, saying there had been a “Wild West in the Arab sector to all intents and purposes”.”
However, she made no effort to provide readers with information concerning the investment in the Arab sector by previous governments over the years or the efforts of the under-staffed police force to reduce crime rates.
The issue of crime in Israel’s Arab sector is complex and multi-faceted but as in her previous reporting, Yolande Knell once again reduces the subject to a simplistic story about “police inaction” in her latest article.