[All translations and emphases by CAMERA Arabic]
At the end of August the BBC rejected a CAMERA Arabic complaint concerning its description of Palestinian terrorists in Jenin as having been “accused” of carrying out attacks against Israeli civilians. The complaint had been submitted 37 working days previously: almost four times the timeframe for addressing a complaint as set by the BBC itself.
“According to Israel, its 2002 siege, and all subsequent military operations which targeted Jenin in particular, had only one goal, which is taking down the Palestinian militants which Israel accuses of being responsible for operations and attacks against it.”
However, the Palestinian terrorists in the city of Jenin and its adjacent camp are not merely ‘accused by Israel’ of responsibility for attacks targeting Israelis (including civilians). Rather, their responsibility for such attacks is a well-documented fact on which both Israel and all the Palestinian militias involved agree – the latter proudly.
This is evident from the events that up led to the April 2002 operation (see, for example, endorsements of deadly attacks against Israel’s Jewish civilians), as well as in more recent years (endorsements of deadly attacks against civilians and an endorsement of the launching of a rocket at Israeli civilians). All those attacks are attributed specifically to terrorists based in the city and the camp.
Obviously no account of Israel’s explanation of why its military acts in Jenin can be complete unless it acknowledges the fact that at least some of the people that Israel seeks to ‘take down’ are members of local terrorist cells which themselves admit that they aim to kill Israeli civilians and have done so successfully in the past.
However, the BBC’s response related to CAMERA Arabic’s correction request as though it was based on a generalisation that was not made:
“Our editors have reviewed the video report and believe that the statement referred to in your complaint is factually and editorially valid. It stated the declared reason for the military operations launched by the Israeli military in Jenin, whereas critics of the operations described them as mass punishment and condemned the killing of innocent civilians among those targeted. In addition, the militants killed in these operations, who were not convicted of attacks on Israeli civilians, could, from a legal standpoint, only have been suspected of that crime, as accused by Israel. The video report duly mentions that Jenin is a stronghold for militants affiliated with militant groups, but it would not have been accurate, or factually correct, to say that all of those who were targeted during the operations have actually carried out attacks against Israel.”
Just over two months ago we documented a similar statement by BBC Arabic in a May 4th headline reporting the deaths of the Dee family’s killers which read as follows:
“Israel announces it killed two Palestinian gunmen accused of killing Israeli women of British origin”
In the body of the same article it was reported that both Israel and Hamas acknowledged that the two dead Palestinians were responsible for the murders of the Dee family. The headline of the English language version was only slightly better:
“Israel says it killed Palestinian gunmen who shot dead British-Israelis”
Nineteen working days after the submission of our complaint on that matter – almost twice the timeframe for addressing a complaint as set by the BBC itself – the BBC rejected it with the claim that the English and Arabic headlines and the statements in the bodies of those articles do not contradict each other:
“The wording of the article’s headline and opening line (“Israel says…”) is referring to the fact that Israel made this announcement.
The opening line of our article also says that:
‘Israeli forces say they have killed two Palestinian militants accused of shooting…’
Given the facts of the case we can see no issues with this wording and, as you acknowledge, the article also says:
‘The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said troops targeted an apartment where the “murderers of Leah [Lucy’s Hebrew name], Maia and Rina Dee” were hiding.’
It identified them as Hassan Qatanani and Moaz Masri and said they were members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
‘Hamas’s military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, later confirmed that Qatanani, Masri and Jabr belonged to the group and that they were behind the attack that killed Lucy Dee and her daughters.’
And so again, we see no prospect of readers being misled.”