How has the BBC reported Hamas terrorist infrastructure in Jabalia?

Previously we looked at one issue arising from a December 18th report by David Gritten headlined ‘Gaza health ministry says Israeli strikes kill 110 in Jabalia’:


That same report also includes the following:

“At least 110 people have been killed in Israeli air strikes in northern Gaza’s Jabalia area, the Hamas-run health ministry says, as fighting continues across the Palestinian territory.

Fifty people were reportedly killed and dozens trapped under rubble when three homes in Jabalia refugee camp were hit.

Videos showed the bodies of small children lined up at a medical centre.

The Israeli military said it had been conducting operations against Hamas “terrorist infrastructure” in Jabalia.”

As we see, Gritten considered it appropriate to use both the ‘Israel says’ qualifier as well as superfluous punctuation in that last sentence.

That qualification is particularly interesting given that on October 31st Gritten produced a report about the same location in which he wrote:

“Later, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had a carried out a “wide-scale strike on terrorists and terror infrastructure belonging to the Central Jabaliya Battalion” and killed its commander, Ibrahim Biari.

“The strike damaged Hamas’s command and control in the area, as well as its ability to direct military activity against IDF soldiers operating throughout the Gaza Strip,” it added.

“A large number of terrorists who were with Biari were killed. Underground terror infrastructure embedded beneath the buildings, used by the terrorists, also collapsed after the strike.”

IDF spokesman Rear Adm Daniel Hagari did not directly address the reported civilian casualties at a briefing, but he said: “The Hamas terrorists continue to use civilian population as protective armour. This is intentional and devastatingly barbaric.””

Gritten’s account of events in Jabalia on December 17th is based entirely on sources located in the Gaza Strip: [emphasis added]

Witnesses and local journalists said Israeli missiles struck a block of houses in Jabalia refugee camp where three families had been living on Sunday night.

On Monday morning, Palestinian media cited the Hamas-run health ministry’s director general as saying that at least 50 people had been killed when the homes of the al-Bursh and Alwan families were bombed. He added that it brought to 110 the death toll in the wider Jabalia area since Sunday.

Local journalists also posted videos on social media showing what they said were the bodies of nine children on the floor of the Jabalia Medical Centre. One identified the children as members of the al-Bursh and Suleiman families.

Another 20 to 30 people were reportedly trapped beneath the rubble of the destroyed homes.”

He adds:

“BBC Gaza correspondent Rushdi Abu Alouf, who is currently in Istanbul, says verifying reports from the north is very difficult because of communication and access problems.

But, he adds, Jabalia refugee camp has been a focus of Israeli ground operations over the past few weeks. And air strikes have intensified since Israeli tanks reportedly pulled out of the camp two days ago.”

Readers are not provided with any explanation of why Jabalia has “been a focus” of Israeli operations, although they are told that:

“The IDF separately announced that its troops had been conducting operations in Jabalia and that they had uncovered cash worth almost $1.4m (£1.1m) in suitcases alongside weapons in the home of a senior Hamas figure.”

Less than a week after the publication of Gritten’s report, the IDF released information about its operations concerning Hamas’ northern headquarters in Jabalia.

“The Israel Defense Forces revealed Sunday that it found a large Hamas tunnel network beneath the Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza City, where the bodies of five Israeli hostages were recovered earlier this month.

The latest revelation regarding Gaza’s web of subterranean hiding spots and fortifications came as the military said it had completed the dismantling of the terror group’s underground command center in the northern Strip… […]

The IDF said troops had been deployed to probe a possible tunnel located under Jabaliya earlier this month, eventually finding and recovering the remains of three soldiers and two civilians.

They were named as Warrant Officer Ziv Dado, 36, Cpl. Nik Beizer, 19, and Sgt. Ron Sherman, 19, as well as civilians Elia Toledano, 28, and Eden Zacharia, 27.

The first two bodies, of Dado and Zacharia, were found on December 13, and three days later, the other three, Beizer, Sherman, and Toledano, were located in a different area of the tunnel network.

The IDF initially located tunnel shafts after deploying troops based on the intelligence that there were two bodies of hostages being held in Jabaliya… […]

The shafts, investigated by troops, including the elite Yahalom combat engineering unit, revealed a massive tunnel network with two levels and an elevator heading down dozens of meters to a large hall and command center, the IDF said.

Branches of the network stretched under a nearby school and hospital, according to the military. One tunnel included a shaft leading directly to the home of the former commander of Hamas’s northern Gaza brigade, Ahmed Ghandour, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike weeks ago.

Weapons and infrastructure used to manufacture weapons were also found in the tunnel, the IDF said.

The entire network was spread over an area about a square kilometer in size, according to military assessments.”

The BBC News website’s periodically updated feature on Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip mentions the names of four of the hostages whose bodies were retrieved from those tunnels in Jabalia under the sub-heading “Hostages who have died”.

“Other hostages recently confirmed to have died include Ron Scherman, Nik Beizer, Tal Chaimi, an Israeli-Romanian citizen aged 41, Joshua Mollel, a 19-year-old Tanzanian student, 27-year-old Eden Zecharya, and 36-year-old Ziv Dado.” [emphasis added]

The fifth hostage was mentioned on December 16th on the BBC News website’s live page:

“The bodies of three more hostages – two Israeli soldiers, Nik Beizer and Ron Scherman, and civilian Elia Toledano – were recovered from Gaza by the IDF earlier”.

To date BBC audiences have seen no reporting on the discovery and destruction of the Hamas underground northern command centre which was intentionally located underneath the Jabaliya neighbourhood (and which included access to the nearby Indonesian hospital) or the retrieval of the bodies of the five hostages from that location.

Hence, what remains online as ‘permanent public record’ concerning recent events in Jabaliya is only the December 18th report by David Gritten – including that obviously redundantly qualified reference to ‘Hamas “terrorist infrastructure”‘. Obviously that does not align with the BBC’s ‘public purposes‘ obligation to “offer a range and depth of analysis and content not widely available from other United Kingdom news providers, […] so that all audiences can engage fully with major […]  global issues and participate in the democratic process, at all levels, as active and informed citizens”.

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