Reviewing BBC reporting on rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip

Early versions of the BBC News website’s first report on the attacks launched by Hamas on October 7th included references to a person killed in one of the first of thousands of rocket attacks:

That report was amended over twenty times and its headline now reads ‘Israel attack: PM says Israel at war after 250 killed in attack from Gaza’. In that latest version, readers are told that:

“At the same time as the infiltration, militants in Gaza began launching thousands of rockets towards Israel, reaching as far as the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Some rockets evaded Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system and damaged residential buildings and vehicles.”

The fact that an Israeli woman – 69-year-old mother of three Hana Ben Artzi from Kfar Aviv – was killed no longer appears in that report.

Subsequent missile attacks launched by Hamas struck Bedouin communities in the Negev and at least seven people – six of them childrenwere killed in those attacks, which did not receive any dedicated coverage on the BBC News website.

On October 10th two foreign nationals were killed in a rocket attack which struck the Eshkol region. The BBC News website did not produce any stand-alone reporting on that story either.

Those omissions become all the more noteworthy in light of a report by BBC Verify published on October 8th under the title ‘How Hamas staged Israel lightning assault no-one thought possible’ which tells BBC audiences of “rudimentary rockets” but not of the people killed by them.

“The rudimentary rockets often struggle to evade Israel’s advanced Iron Dome missile defence system – but thousands were fired in a short space of time to overwhelm it.”

On October 7th the BBC News website published a filmed report telling audiences that “Rockets launched from Gaza streak across sky towards Israel”.

On October 8th another filmed report appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Israel’s Iron Dome intercepts rockets from Gaza”.

Neither of those reports – both of which include footage from Ashkelon – mention the Israeli fatalities caused by Hamas’ rocket attacks.

On October 9th the BBC News website published a report from Ashkelon by Yolande Knell titled “‘Nobody could help us’ – Shock and anger in Israel’s Ashkelon”. The only reference to rocket attacks in that report comes in its closing sentences:

“Overhead, there are regular booms as Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system intercepts rockets which have been fired by Palestinian militants.

It has protected residents through many previous rounds of fighting with Hamas. But right now, nobody in Ashkelon feels very safe.”

However on the same day the BBC News website also published a filmed report titled “Israel: Ashkelon hit by rockets as BBC team run for cover”.

And on October 11th BBC audiences were presented with another filmed report about a BBC journalist in Ashkelon titled “Lyse Doucet moves to safety during live Israel report”.

As we see, BBC audiences around the world have to date seen more coverage of BBC journalists taking cover from rockets and mortars launched by the Hamas terrorist organisation than they have of Israelis killed and terrorised by those attacks.

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