New Year Gaza framing from BBC News

On the evening of December 31st the BBC News website published an uncredited filmed report titled ‘Young Gazans hope for peace in new year as war with Israel goes on’.

BBC audiences were not told who set up those uninformative but pathos evoking interviews with two minors and an adult. The same video was embedded into a written report which appeared on the BBC News website early on the morning of January 1st.

Credited to George Wright, that report – headlined ‘Israel says war in Gaza expected to continue throughout 2024’ – presents completely unverified information as fact in the caption to its main illustration:

“More than 21,800 people have been killed in Gaza – mostly children and women”.

In the body of the report readers again find promotion of claims that the BBC has not independently confirmed, while the relevant topic of the number of terrorists killed during the war – along with the fact that Hamas deliberately does not report combatant deaths – is whitewashed from the picture presented to BBC audiences.

In the nineteen hours following its publication, Wright’s report was amended five times. Readers of the earlier versions were told that:

“More than 21,800 people have been killed in Gaza – mostly children and women – during 11 weeks of fighting, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.”

Later versions stated:

“Some 21,978 people – mostly women and children – have been killed in Gaza since 7 October, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Its latest update said 56,697 people in Gaza had been wounded over the same period.

The figures included 156 people killed and 246 injured in the last 24 hours, the ministry added.”

Once again promoting the claims made by the Hamas terrorist organisation, Wright told readers of the earlier versions that:

“Israel continued its bombardment of Gaza up until the end of what has been dark year in the region.

At least 48 Palestinians were killed in overnight bombing in Gaza City on Sunday, the health ministry in Gaza said, with many still buried under the rubble.

Another strike killed 20 people sheltering at Al-Aqsa University in the west of Gaza City, witnesses told the AFP news agency. The BBC has not been able to verify the latest reports.”

On the morning of Sunday, December 31st, the Times of Israel reported overnight airstrikes as follows:

“South of Gaza City, the IDF says troops of the 179th Brigade spotted four Hamas operatives with explosive devices approaching them. An airstrike was carried out against the cell.

Half an hour later, the IDF says troops spotted another four Hamas operatives in the area, who were also struck by the IAF.

At the same time, a vehicle with Hamas operatives inside driving toward the troops was also struck, the IDF says.

An IAF fighter jet also struck a building from which Hamas activated an explosive device against the troops, according to the IDF.

In northern Gaza’s Beit Lahiya, the IDF says troops of the 551st Brigade spotted three Hamas operatives entering a building, and called in an airstrike. […]

…in southern Gaza, troops of the Paratroopers Brigade identified three Hamas operatives in the Khan Younis area and called in an airstrike, killing one. The other two gunmen, wielding RPGs, were later spotted between two buildings and were killed by tank shelling, according to the IDF.

The IDF says the 7th Armored Brigade, also operating in southern Gaza, spotted three Hamas operatives and directed an airstrike to kill them.”

With Wright’s information coming primarily from Hamas, it is hardly surprising that his account made no mention whatsoever of the Hamas operations that were the reason for airstrikes.

Later versions of the report included a brief mention the elimination of one senior terrorist:

“The IDF said it killed a senior Hamas commander involved in the 7 October attack, Adil Mismah, in an overnight strike on the town of Deir al-Balah.

The Gaza health ministry reported at least 48 deaths in overnight bombing in Gaza City. Witnesses told the AFP news agency that another strike killed 20 people sheltering at Al-Aqsa University in the city’s west.

Another strike on Monday morning was said to have killed at least 10 people in the al-Maghazi refugee camp.

The BBC has not been able to verify the latest battlefield reports.”

Wright goes on to amplify partisan framing:

“A resident of northern Gaza displaced to the south of the enclave highlighted the contrast between New Year celebrations around the world and the situation in Gaza.

“Tonight the sky in world countries will be lit by firecrackers, and joyful laughs will fill the air,” Zainab Khalil, 57, told Reuters on Sunday.

“In Gaza our skies are now filled with Israeli missiles and tank shells that land on innocent, homeless civilians.””

Only in the final paragraphs of Wright’s report do readers discover that the sky in Israel was also “filled with” missiles on the night of December 31st when Hamas chose to attack southern and central Israel. Wright’s second-hand account fails to inform BBC audiences how many rockets were launched or that the attacks on central Israel did not only target Tel Aviv:

“Air raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and southern Israel as it saw in the new year, with Israeli missile defence systems intercepting rockets fired from Gaza, AFP reported.

One man who was in Tel Aviv celebrating the new year with friends said: “I was terrified, like it was the first time I saw missiles, it’s terrifying.””

The Times of Israel reported as follows:

“The Hamas terror group fired at least 27 rockets at the south and center of the country in a barrage timed for midnight as Israelis tried to celebrate the start of the new year.

Air defense systems intercepted 18 rockets and nine fell in open areas.

Sirens sounded in various locations in the center of the country including Rehovot, Ness Ziona, Holon, Lod, and Modiin, as well as Ashdod, Sderot, and other southern towns.

Loud explosions from the intercepts boomed through the sky over Tel Aviv.”

Wright chose to end his report with uncritical promotion of more Hamas propaganda:

“Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for both attacks in a video posted on social media.

They said they used M90 rockets in “response to the massacres of civilians” perpetrated by Israel.”

While the BBC promotes deliberately-timed videos of Gazans ‘hoping for peace’ in the new year, it is all too obvious that its continued over-reliance on the very terrorist organisation that started the war as a source of information, together with the now standard practice of uncritical amplification of that organisation’s unverified claims, fails to provide BBC audiences with the type of accurate and impartial information necessary for understanding of the events that are the topic of its reporting.

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1 Comment

  1. says: john in cheshire

    I assume that no one wants to see non-combatants being killed.
    So, why isn’t pressure being put on the muslims to stop operating amongst their non-combatants?

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