BBC’s Bateman misleads on location of PFLP shooting attack

On July 7th a report by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page.

Despite the fact that the opening paragraph of that report informs readers that it concerns “two Palestinian militants”, the BBC nevertheless chose to airbrush that terror context out of its headline: ‘Nablus: Two Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in West Bank’.

Readers are told that:

“Two Palestinian militants have been shot dead by Israeli forces during a raid in the occupied West Bank, as tensions surge in the region.

On Friday morning locals reported hearing heavy gunfire as Israeli troops surrounded a house in Nablus.

The men killed have been named locally as Khayri Shahin, 34, and Hamze Maqbool, 32.

Israel said they were wanted gunmen who fired on their forces before they could be detained.”

Notwithstanding the BBC’s long-standing refusal to describe Palestinian terrorism as such in its own words, Bateman had no qualms about promoting the talking points of a terrorist organisation proscribed by the UK:

“The Palestinian militant group Hamas described the men as “heroes of the resistance” and accused Israel of terrorism.” [emphasis added]

Readers are later told that:

“After Friday morning’s raid in Nablus, a video emerged of the two men thought to have been recorded earlier this week, in which they claimed affiliation with the Palestinian militant group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and said they would “respond” to the attack on Jenin.

Israel’s domestic intelligence agency Shabak said they were suspected of shooting at a police car and a shop in a Jewish settlement near Nablus.”

In fact, the PFLP claimed the two men as its fighters in an announcement published on the website of its Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades on July 7th and stated that they had carried out the shooting attack two days earlier which was the reason for their attempted arrest. The Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades also claimed that the two were fighters in its ranks.

Contrary to Bateman’s claim, that shooting did not take place in “a Jewish settlement” but in the Shomronim (Samaritan) neighbourhood on Mount Gerizim (also known as Har Bracha). As reported by the Times of Israel on July 5th:

“Palestinian gunmen opened fire from a passing vehicle at a police cruiser and a nearby store in a small Samaritan community in the northern West Bank on Wednesday, the military said.

The shooting attack took place in the Mount Gerizim area, just south of Nablus, and close to the Jewish settlement of Har Bracha. The area is home to a tiny community of Samaritans, known as Shomronim in Hebrew.”

Bateman closed his report with a brief mention of another shooting attack that had taken place on July 6th but which had not been the topic of any stand-alone reporting by the BBC:

“Meanwhile, the funeral took place of an Israeli soldier, Staff Sgt Shilo Yosef Amir, 22, who was shot dead by a Palestinian gunman on Thursday, close to the Jewish settlement of Kdumim near Nablus.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, which it described as a response to Israel’s attack on Jenin.

The settlement is home to Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bazalel [sic] Smotrich.

Hamas said the attack was intended to show the minister it “almost knocked on your door”.”

Bateman refrained from providing BBC audiences with details of that attack:

“According to the Israel Defense Forces’ initial probe of the attack, security forces were alerted of the presence of a suspicious car driving around the settlement. When a civilian security officer and IDF troops arrived at the scene and stopped a car for inspection, its occupant fired at them with a handgun and fled. The forces then chased the assailant and killed him. […]

Amid the shooting, a suspected infiltration siren sounded in the community, west of Nablus. The IDF’s Home Front Command briefly ordered residents of Kedumim to remain in their homes and lock their doors and windows.”

While the BBC’s Jerusalem bureau correspondent obviously did not consider the lock-down of of an entire Israeli civilian community, including women and children, during a suspected terrorist infiltration to be newsworthy, he was, as we see, quite happy to provide worldwide amplification for Hamas propaganda.

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