BBC News airbrushes Hamas claim of minor killed in Jenin

Late on November 29th (UK time) the BBC News website published a report by Lucy Williamson (reporting from Jenin) and David Gritten (in London) headlined ‘Two Palestinian boys killed during Israeli raid in West Bank’.

That report relates to a counter-terrorism operation carried out in Jenin that began on the evening of November 28th and continued the following day which is described as follows in the opening paragraphs of the BBC’s report:

“Four Palestinians, including two children, have been killed by Israeli forces during a raid in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials say.

CCTV videos appeared to show eight-year-old Adam al-Ghoul and Basel Abu al-Wafa, 14, being shot during the same incident in the city of Jenin.

The Israeli military said suspects threw explosive devices at its soldiers and that they responded with live fire.

It also said troops killed “two high-ranking terrorists” during the raid.”

Only in paragraph seventeen (out of 25) are readers told of the aim of that operation:

“In its operations in Jenin overnight, the IDF said it had killed a senior commander for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Mohammed Zubeidi, and another called Wissam Hanoun who had been inside a building with him.

It accused Zubeidi of involvement in two shootings in May in which an Israeli civilian was killed and several soldiers were wounded.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad – which like Hamas is classed as a terrorist group by Israel, the UK and other Western powers – confirmed that two of its local commanders were killed.”

In fact, Zubeidi was involved in incidents that took place in May and June. Notably, Williamson and Gritten make no mention of his link to the Jenin Battalion.

“The IDF has said that Zubeidi was the commander of the so-called Jenin Battalion, a local wing of the Islamic Jihad in the West Bank city.

In May of this year, he was involved in a terror attack near the West Bank settlement of Hermesh in which an Israeli, Meir Tamari, was killed, the Shin Bet said, adding that Zubeidi had planned the attack and provided the car used by the perpetrators. […]

In addition, Zubeidi was involved in another attack in June in which a civilian and four soldiers were wounded, the Shin Bet said.”

The terror attack in which Meir Tamari was murdered in May was not covered by the BBC News website and neither was the shooting at the Efes junction on June 13th.

The majority of the report by Williamson and Gritten relates to the two minors reported by the PA health ministry as having been killed during the same operation. Williamson’s emotive portrayal includes the following:

“Footage shows a small figure on a security camera video turning and starting to run, before falling sharply to the ground. His eight-year-old body is easily dragged from the road by a friend.

The life of Adam al-Ghoul ended in Jenin on Wednesday with a shot to the head, as Israeli forces withdrew from a military operation in the refugee camp there.

Nearby, his 14-year-old friend, Basel Abu al-Wafa was fighting for his life after being shot in the chest, with gunfire hitting the ground around him.

At Jenin Hospital, both boys were declared dead.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement that during “activity in the Jenin camp, a number of suspects hurled explosive devices toward IDF soldiers”.

“The soldiers responded with live fire toward the suspects and hits were identified.””

The PFLP-linked anti-Israel NGO DCI-Palestine also reported on November 29th that Basel Abu al-Wafa “was allegedly attempting to throw a homemade explosive device at the time Israeli forces shot and killed him”.

The BBC’s report continues:

“As Basel’s body was prepared for burial in the crowded hospital morgue, a relative watched as the teenager was wrapped in the green flag of Hamas. It wasn’t what Basel would have wanted, he told the BBC.

“He’s innocent, not from the militias,” he said, teetering between anger and grief. “He’s perfect in school, a good boy, kind.””

The same messaging appears in the caption to the main photograph illustrating the report: “Basel Abu al-Wafa’s body was wrapped in a Hamas flag – something a relative said he would not have wanted”. 

Williamson apparently did not bother to enquire who had wrapped the teenager’s body in “the green flag of Hamas” if his family objected. According to DCI-Palestine, the two minors were killed at “around 1 p.m.” on November 29th. Williamson also does not seem to have asked their relatives why they were out on the streets during a counter-terrorism operation which had commenced some seventeen hours previously.

Two days later, on December 1st, that report by Williamson and Gritten was amended to include “screengrabs from two CCTV videos”.  Notably, the fact that – as reported by Reuters and others –  Hamas had claimed Basel Abu al-Wafa as a member of that terrorist organisation was not added to the BBC’s report.

That information is obviously essential to BBC audience members trying to put Williamson’s emotional closing statement into perspective:

“Adam and Basel are the latest casualties of a conflict that keeps getting older, even as children die.”

While Williamson has not been reporting from the region for long, she certainly appears to have already embraced the long-standing BBC practice of avoiding the issue of minors recruited by Palestinian terrorist organisations.

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  1. says: Grimey

    Usual cherry-picking of context, history and truth by the BBC. By supporting Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hezbollah, the BBC has gallons of blood indirectly on its hands.

  2. says: Neil

    So, one has to ask, if the BBC have a Royal Charter which guarantees their impartiality, the fact that almost every report on the conflict breaks that impartiality, surely it is time that the organisation was prosecuted through the courts for being in breach of that charter. #defundthebbc

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