Over the past year we have repeatedly documented the BBC’s under-reporting of the subject of the Jenin Battalion (also known as the Jenin Brigades).
As we noted in July 2022 in relation to BBC coverage of counter-terrorism operations in the Jenin area throughout the previous year:
“A common feature in all those reports (in addition to the BBC’s serial avoidance of the use of the word terror) is their failure to inform audiences on the topic of the formation of the ‘Jenin Battalion’ Joint Operations Room as reported last September.”
In July 2022 the BBC’s Tom Bateman paid a visit to the Jenin Battalion and was finally able to tell BBC audiences that:
“We were taken to a home of the so-called Jenin Brigade. It’s a single banner the Palestinian armed groups have been using for a year or so. They’re all listed by Israel and the West as terrorist organisations. But in the camp, their recruits are growing.”
However, as time went on the BBC altered its approach and began to present that PIJ initiated and Iranian financed terror network simply as a group of young men frustrated by internal Palestinian politics.
Just last month cross-platform reports by Yousef Eldin, who also paid a visit to the same terrorist organisation, told BBC audiences that:
“We join the Jenin Brigades at 02:00 one night as they carry out training exercises in the labyrinthine streets of the Jenin refugee camp. […]
Mostly men in their 20s, these fighters claim to be independent of major militant groups and have publicly rejected links to political parties in the Palestinian territories.” [emphasis added]
As recently as July 4th viewers of the BBC World TV channel were told that:
“…we know that the Jenin brigades, they may be young, there’s many of them, they’re desperate, they lack the affiliation of previous organised groups.” [emphasis added]
However, some of the written reports published on the BBC News website as part of its coverage of the recent counter-terrorism operation in Jenin indicate that the BBC is fully aware of the connection of the Jenin Battalion to terrorist organisations designated, among others, by the UK.
‘Jenin: Israeli military launches major operation in West Bank city’, July 3rd, Yolande Knell & David Gritten:
“The first drone strike overnight targeted an apartment that the military said was being used as a hideout for Palestinians who had attacked Israelis and as a “joint operational command centre” for the Jenin Brigades – a unit made up of different Palestinian militant groups including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
‘Gaza-Israel exchange of fire as Israeli forces complete Jenin withdrawal’, July 4th, David Gritten:
“The military launched its operation in Jenin refugee camp early on Monday with a drone strike that it said targeted a joint command centre of the Jenin Brigades – a unit made up of different militant groups, including Hamas.”
Over the past year at least two BBC film crews have travelled to Jenin – apparently with the approval of BBC management – in order to interview members of the Jenin Battalion. Audiences have not been told who initiated, arranged and facilitated those visits by BBC staff to a terror group comprised, among others, of members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas.
The underwhelming results of those two visits were the four sentences in Tom Bateman’s July 2022 filmed report – which do not include the names of the terrorist organisations that make up the Jenin Battalion but which was nevertheless repromoted on the BBC’s July 3rd live page – and the inaccurate and misleading claims promoted by Yousef Eldin in June 2023.
As we see above, two of the BBC News website’s five written reports on the topic of the July 3rd/4th counter-terrorism operation in Jenin included just one paragraph providing a description of the terror group that is a prime cause of that operation but with no mention whatsoever of its outside funding or the sources of its weapons.
Clearly the BBC has a very long way to go before it can claim that its reporting on the Jenin Battalion meets the public purpose of “build[ing] people’s understanding” of one of the main causes of the recent counter-terror operation and any future operations.