On the morning of June 27th the BBC News website published a report by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell on its ‘Middle East’ page under the headline “West Bank: US ‘troubled’ by Israeli settlement expansion plans”.
Included in that report are the following statements:
“Four Israeli settlers were shot dead by Palestinians last week, prompting days of settler violence.
Violence between Palestinians and Israelis has flared since Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected last year.”
Knell’s reference to “four Israeli settlers” was apparently written without checking the BBC’s previous coverage of the June 20th terror attack in Eli in which her colleague David Gritten accurately reported that one of the victims was a resident of “Yad Binyamin, a town in central Israel”.
While Knell considered it relevant to inform readers that the random victims of that terror attack were “settlers” (three paragraphs before she promoted the standard partial BBC portrayal of Israeli communities in Judea & Samaria as “illegal under international law”), only eight paragraphs later are readers told that the “Palestinians” mentioned in the same sentence were actually members of a terrorist organisation proscribed by, among others, the British government.
“Palestinian militant group Hamas said the gunmen were its members.”
Confusingly, Knell does not clarify to readers exactly what she means by “violence between Palestinians and Israelis”. While she may have intended to refer to the widely condemned attacks on uninvolved Palestinians described in the latter part of that first sentence, her use of the words “between” and “Israelis” (rather than “settlers”) suggests that she is referring to the situation in more general terms.
If that is the case, her claim that violence has intensified since the election in Israel last November (the date of the linked BBC report) is inaccurate and her promotion of linkage between an alleged increased violence and the government which was sworn in in late December 2022 misleads BBC audiences.
In March 2023 the BBC News website published a backgrounder in which it claimed that the surge in violence began a year earlier – i.e. nine months before the current Israeli government was formed:
“While the starting point is debatable, it began to escalate in March 2022.”
“A marked surge in hostilities between Israeli security forces and Palestinian militants began in June 2021 when Islamic Jihad Jenin commander Jamil al-Amouri and two Palestinian security forces officers died in a shootout with a special unit of the Israeli Border Police. The occurrence signified the start of a persistent conflict that has swept across parts of the West Bank, including some areas of Israel.
At some point in 2022, Iran recognized an opportunity in the West Bank and consequently intensified its support to Islamic Jihad and other affiliated militant groups. Iran has boosted its assistance to extremist groups like Islamic Jihad in a bid to heighten destabilization efforts in the West Bank and ramp up attacks on Israeli targets. Iran has also recognized the vulnerability of the Palestinian Authority. It sees the destabilization of the West Bank as a way to weaken its authority further, thus benefiting Hamas, a major beneficiary of the regime’s support.”
In other words, Knell’s promotion of supposed linkage between an alleged rise in violence and the current Israeli government is not only inaccurate but conceals from audience view significant factors that are highly relevant to the issue.
Moreover, Knell’s use of the term “violence between Palestinians and Israelis” also compromises audience understanding by promoting false equivalence between Palestinian terror attacks and the consequent Israeli counter-terrorism operations.
As we see, the BBC continues to demonstrate little interest in accurately and impartially informing its audiences on the topic of the multiple factors that actually do lie behind the rise in violence seen over the past two years.