BBC ME bureau chief frames the IDF operation in Jenin

Among the BBC’s early coverage of the recent two-day counter-terrorism operation in Jenin was a filmed item published on the afternoon of July 3rd with the headline ‘What is happening in Jenin… in 60 seconds’.

The BBC’s Middle East bureau chief presented his “assessment” as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Floto: “This is an ongoing operation involving, we think, thousands of Israeli troops. And they’re currently operating in…mainly in the Jenin refugee camp. We do know that overnight the Israeli military launched an airstrike against what it describes as a command-and-control centre – most likely just a house where people were meeting.

Eh…they then continued with further airstrikes carried out by drones to clear the way for troops to enter Jenin refugee camp. Just to give you a picture, this is an area that’s incredibly densely populated. Tens of thousands of people live in Jenin and the surrounding areas. Narrow streets, lots of people there and the chances of people being caught in the crossfire are high. It’s a high-risk operation.

In terms of scale, we haven’t seen this level of operation in many, many years and already this year is the deadliest in the West Bank since 2005 when records were kept in the same way.”

As we see, this early framing for already underinformed BBC audiences fails to give viewers any information whatsoever about the context to the IDF operation. The word terrorism is not mentioned at all and BBC audiences are not told that the Jenin refugee camp is a major hub of Palestinian terror from which dozens of attacks against Israeli civilians have been launched in recent months.

No information regarding the various Palestinian terrorist organisations operating from Jenin – or their outside financers and backers – is provided at all. Instead, Floto frames the story as one that merely involves “Israeli troops” and local “people”.

In addition, Floto follows what has become standard BBC policy, failing to inform viewers that the reason that this is allegedly “the deadliest” year is the rise in terrorism perpetrated by various Palestinian terror factions and he airbrushes the fact that the majority of those killed were terrorists and/or males involved in violence at the time.

Particularly noteworthy however is the arrogant speculation from the head of the BBC’s Middle East bureau seen in the second sentence of his “assessment”. The IDF did indeed open its operations with a strike on a command-and-control centre, as reported by Ynet and others:

“The opening strike on the headquarters of the Palestinian terrorists, which served as the command center of the different terror factions in the refugee camp, was carried out by the Special Operations Command of the Shin Bet and is considered a relatively dramatic start to an offensive operation.

The terrorists in the targeted command center managed combat against the Israeli troops using radio devices and cameras. According to a joint statement by the IDF and Shin Bet, one of the first steps of the operation was attacking the headquarters that served as a gathering place for armed terrorists before and after terror activities, which acted as a spot to replenish their weapons and explosives supply, and a center for coordination and communication among the operatives. This attack was said to have removed their “eyes and ears.””

The IDF later released pictures of what Floto would have BBC audiences believe was “just a house where people were meeting”.

The BBC Middle East bureau chief’s obvious contempt for information provided by an official Israeli source and his partial framing of the story as a whole clearly did nothing to “build people’s understanding” of “what is happening in Jenin”.

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  1. says: Sid

    He should be persona non grata in Israel but the government, unlike Syria, does not have the guts to close down the BBC in Israel

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