BBC WS ME editor misleads on Egypt-Israel border

Previously we discussed two BBC News website reports about the June 3rd incident near Israel’s border with Egypt in which three Israeli soldiers were killed by a member of the Egyptian forces:


On the afternoon of June 3rd listeners to two BBC radio stations heard reports on the same story.

The news bulletin at the beginning of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘PM’ included a short report from the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell (from 01:57 here).

The afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ included an item (from 09:50 here) in which listeners heard from the World Service’s Middle East regional editor Sebastian Usher.

Both those reports promoted the claim (which was already in doubt at the time of broadcast) that the Egyptian officer was chasing drug smugglers at the time of the incident. However, Sebastian Usher also made statements which were not dependent on the investigation of the incident.

Usher: “So this is a major incident in an area of the border with Egypt which has been quiet mostly for decades, since Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace deal with Israel back in 1979. It does see clashes from time to time to do with drug smuggling and that might be what happened here. […] But this is certainly, you know, a major, major incident for Israel in a place where it doesn’t really expect them anymore.”

That portrayal airbrushes several major incidents which had nothing to do with drug smuggling from audience view.

In November 1990 four Israelis were killed and 27 wounded when an Egyptian border guard crossed into Israel and carried out shooting attacks on vehicles travelling on Highway 12.

In August 2011 four attacks on the same road carried out by terrorists who infiltrated from Egypt resulted in the deaths of eight Israelis.

In June 2012 an Israeli civilian was killed in an attack by terrorists who infiltrated the border.

In August 2012 a terror attack at the Kerem Shalom crossing was thwarted.

In September 2012 an Israeli soldier was killed in an attack by terrorists who infiltrated from Egypt.

The BBC World Service’s Middle East editor had to ignore all those incidents and others in order to portray the border between Egypt and Israel as “quiet”, with the result that BBC radio audiences around the world were denied essential context to the story reported in this item.


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