BBC’s Gritten promotes the falsehoods of a political NGO and a terror group

Anyone familiar with the BBC’s Pavlovian self-recruitment to the provision of uncritical amplification for press releases and reports put out by assorted NGOs claiming to promote human rights would not have been surprised by the appearance on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page late on June 13th of an item by David Gritten headlined ‘Amnesty: Possible war crimes in recent Israel-Gaza fighting’.

As ever BBC audiences were told nothing of the anti-Israel record of Amnesty International – including its support for BDS, its involvement in lawfare, its whitewashing of terrorism and its long-standing promotion of the falsehood that Israel practices ‘apartheid’ – before Gritten unquestioningly repeated its allegations and claims.

In the second paragraph readers are provided with a link to Amnesty International’s latest report concerning Operation Shield and Arrow: a report – conducted by an unnamed “local field researcher” – which concludes with a statement which should have prompted any journalist capable of critical thinking to conduct some serious soul-searching before putting his name to its amplification:

“The unlawful attacks on Palestinian homes and the illegal blockade imposed on Gaza since 2007, are part and parcel of Israel’s apartheid system against Palestinians which amounts to the crime against humanity of apartheid under both the Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute.”

David Gritten, who regularly contributes to BBC content relating to Israel, is of course fully aware of the fact that the Gaza Strip is under the control of one widely designated terrorist organisation and is the base for several others, including the Iranian sponsored Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Gritten is also no doubt aware of the fact that the residents of the Gaza Strip are not Israeli citizens, that Israel withdrew from that territory eighteen years ago and that the blockade is part of counter-terrorism measures which have nothing whatsoever to do with racial segregation or “collective punishment” but are aimed entirely at protecting Israeli civilians from the actions of terrorist organisations that aim to eradicate the State of Israel.

Gritten tells readers of this latest report that:

“Thirty-four Palestinians and one Israeli were killed in the latest round of cross-border fighting, which erupted on 9 May and ended five days later with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.”

Only later does he allude to the fact that – as he reported in early May –  the PIJ initiated that round of conflict by launching over a hundred missiles at civilian targets in Israel.

“The IDF said that during the fighting which followed, its aircraft struck more than 400 military targets belonging to PIJ and killed three other senior commanders of its military wing, which it blamed for the firing of dozens of rockets and mortars at Israel the previous week.” [emphasis added]

The fact that one of those 34 Palestinians was killed in Israel by a PIJ rocket is only communicated to readers sixteen paragraphs later:

“An Israeli woman and a Palestinian labourer from Gaza were killed by rockets that hit an apartment in Rehovot and a building site in Shokeda respectively.”

The fact that twenty of the other 33 Palestinians killed were operatives belonging to several terrorist organisations does not appear at all in Gritten’s report.

The second link provided to readers of this article leads to a report by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman:

“It [Amnesty International] cited the targeting on 13 May of a four-storey building in the Jabaliya refugee camp that was home to 42 people from the extended Nabhan family.

Amnesty found no evidence that the building had been used to store weapons or any other military equipment, or that rockets had been launched nearby.

“In our investigation, we heard vivid accounts of bombs obliterating homes, of fathers digging their little girls out from under rubble, of a teenager fatally injured as she lay in bed holding a teddy bear,” said Amnesty’s Middle East director Heba Morayef.”

While Gritten uncritically amplifies AI’s claim that it “found no evidence that the building had been used to store weapons or any other military equipment, or that rockets had been launched nearby”, he does not bother to inform readers in his own words that the building had been used as a PIJ command and control centre or that his BBC colleague had earlier reported that “[l]ocal sources believe a militant lived in the building”. Hence, he leaves BBC audiences with the misleading impression created by AI’s manipulations whereby Israeli forces supposedly targeted a building for no apparent reason.

Moreover, throughout his report Gritten makes no effort whatsoever to relieve readers of the distorted impressions of the Laws of Armed Combat promoted in Amnesty International’s assorted quoted statements. His insertion of various statements from the IDF may have ostensibly ticked the ‘impartiality’ box as far as he is concerned but in practice, all they do is create a ‘he said-she said’ account which fails to provide BBC audiences with the information needed to properly assess Amnesty International’s allegations.

Readers would have been better placed to put the quoted statements from Heba Morayef into perspective had they been told, for example, that just a year ago she and her organisation championed a terrorist who went on a stabbing rampage in 2015.

Gritten’s report does not only uncritically promote quotations and misleading allegations from the inadequately presented NGO Amnesty International and its Middle East director; it also promotes quotes from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organisation.

BBC editorial guidelines state:

“11.2.6 Any proposal to approach an organisation (or an individual member of an organisation) designated a ‘terrorist group’ by the Home Secretary under the Terrorism Acts, and any proposal to approach individuals or organisations responsible for acts of terror, to participate in our output must be referred in advance to Director Editorial Policy and Standards.”

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad is indeed designated by the UK and so one must conclude that Gritten received permission to solicit the following propaganda from that terrorist organisation:

“But he [PIJ spokesman] told the BBC that Amnesty’s report “proves that the occupation [Israel] was the one that began the aggression by committing grave crimes”.

“The enemy uses the weapons it has to kill Palestinian civilians and we are doing our part to defend ourselves against the crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people,” he added.”

The fact that Gritten chose to close his report with uncritical amplification of those baseless claims, despite knowing full well that it was the PIJ that “began the aggression” by firing missiles at Israeli civilians on May 2nd and that its mission is not to “defend…the Palestinian people” (as shown by the fact that the PIJ killed four Palestinians during the recent conflict) but to eradicate Israel, is a glaring example of the failure of the BBC’s reporting on Israel to accurately and impartially inform its audiences.

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