On the afternoon of November 24th the BBC News website published a report by Lucy Williamson and George Wright which currently carries the headline ‘Israel releases 39 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons’.
Readers of that report about the first tranche of security prisoners released in exchange for Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip are told that: [emphasis added]
“Upon the prisoners’ release, the bus that transported them inched its way through a sea of jubilant Palestinian supporters.
Through the windows, some of the prisoners could be seen dancing, one wrapped in a Palestinian flag. Outside, mobile phones were raised to the glass amid ululations and shouts of welcome and “God is great”.
A few in the crowd waved Hamas flags, but others spoke of Palestinian unity, a small moment of victory in the midst of a gruelling war.
For Israel, the released prisoners are a security threat; for the Palestinians gathered here to greet them, they are victims of Israel’s occupation – and their release is a symbol.”
That part of the report is illustrated with a photograph showing only Hamas flags, the caption to which errs regarding the name of the Ofer prison.
As recorded by the ITIC:
The following day – November 25th – another report by Lucy Williamson on the same topic was published on the BBC News website under the headline ‘Israel’s Palestinian prisoner release a ‘window of hope’ in West Bank’.
The main photograph illustrating that report is captioned “Fatima Amarneh was among the Palestinian prisoners released by Israel”. However, BBC audiences are not informed that Fatimah Amarneh, who is from the Jenin district, tried to stab a police officer in the Old City of Jerusalem on September 4th 2023.
That article opens as follows:
“By nightfall, the road in front of the Beitunia checkpoint had the feel of a restive festival, the sting of politics and tear gas mingling in the air.
Small campfires flickered in front of a handful of green Hamas flags; there were many more Palestinian ones.”
Towards the bottom of Williamson’s report appears a photograph credited to Anadolou which shows two Hamas flags attached to the roof of the Red Cross bus transporting the prisoners, what appears to be the reverse side of a terrorist group banner and one Palestinian flag. Additional photographs taken by the same photographer also show Fatah flags.
Given that her report relies on contributions from highly partisan sources – Palestinian Prisoners’ Club president Abdallah Zughary, Mustafa Barghouti, “human rights lawyer” and PSCC board member Mohammed Khatib and a relative of one of the prisoners (whom readers are not told is the sister of a Hamas commander) who immediately upon her release praised Hamas – it is hardly surprising to find Williamson uncritically promoting blatant Palestinian propaganda.
“Israel’s jailing of large numbers of people on security grounds is widely seen by Palestinians as a tool of the occupation.
Charges range from murder and violent attacks on Israelis to stone-throwing. Many Palestinians say Israel is criminalising acts of resistance by an occupied people – the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) told the BBC all prisoners are detained “according to and under the provisions of the law”.”
“The release of 39 women and teenagers is a tiny drop in the ocean of prisoners, but a massive symbol for Palestinians of their ability to – occasionally – force Israel’s hand.” […]
“To Israel the prisoners it released today are a security threat.
To the Palestinians gathered to greet them, they are victims of Israel’s occupation – and their release is symbolic of a wider goal.”
Interestingly, while Williamson’s reports on the release of the first group of Palestinian prisoners downplay demonstrations of support for Hamas and promote the notion of ‘Palestinian unity’, neither they – nor the BBC News website’s live pages for November 24th and November 25th – make any mention whatsoever of another story that broke on the same night.
“Members of a Palestinian armed group executed two men in the West Bank city of Tulkarem Friday night accused of collaborating with Israel, as a mob cheered them on, according to Palestinian reports.
A Palestinian journalist in the camp, speaking on condition of anonymity, said residents of the camp beat and stomped on the corpses after the two were shot and killed in the streets. Videos show hundreds of Palestinians flocking to the entrance of the camp, gawking and filming with their phones as men try to hang the mutilated corpses from an electrical tower.
It apparently proved too difficult and residents ended up tossing the bodies over the walls of a UN school in the camp, tying their feet to a chain link fence, the journalist said.”
Reports of a third execution in Jenin also emerged around the same time.
Analysis of that incident provided by Khaled Abu Toameh includes the following observations:
“The “execution” is also an indication that the Palestinian Authority security forces are continuing to lose control of the situation in the West Bank. Since Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, the Palestinian forces have stopped pursuing Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad members in the West Bank. Nor have the Palestinian Authority security forces made any attempt to prevent Palestinians from demonstrating in support of Hamas, especially during the celebrations over the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails as part of the latest Israel-Hamas deal.” [emphasis added]
Williamson’s downplaying of the support for Hamas on view at the receptions of Palestinian prisoners and the BBC’s unsurprising failure to report the vicious summary executions of Palestinians by Palestinians clearly do not contribute to meeting the corporation’s obligation to provide accurate and impartial news […] to build people’s understanding” and “a range and depth of analysis and content not widely available from other United Kingdom news providers”.