BBC’s Bowen claims he ‘cannot check’ Hamas theft of humanitarian aid

Previously we discussed the problematic presentation of the topic of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip as it appeared in the initial versions of an article by the BBC’s international editor Jeremy Bowen published on the morning of February 11th:

WHAT WERE BBC AUDIENCES TOLD ABOUT THE HAMAS FACILITY UNDER UNRWA’S HQ?

Bowen initially told readers that:

“Under pressure from US President Joe Biden, Israel now allows limited supplies of food, water and medicine into Gaza. But it continues to restrict the entry of relief supplies into Gaza and the movement of relief convoys inside the Strip.

Israel claims what goes in is adequate. International aid groups say on top of the fact that innocent civilians in Gaza are being killed and wounded, they are also being starved and deprived of medical treatment. The Geneva Convention says that punishing civilians for crimes they did not commit amounts to collective punishment, which is a war crime.”

As noted above, some fifteen hours after its initial publication, that article was amended to include a response from the Israeli embassy in London but it is worth taking a closer look at the entire addition – and in particular, Bowen’s portrayal of a topic that the BBC has been avoiding for some time.

The addition begins with more amplification of false claims: [emphasis added]

“Under pressure from US President Joe Biden, Israel now allows limited supplies of food, water and medicine into Gaza. Aid agencies and the UN cite considerable evidence that Israeli security checks slow the supply of relief into Gaza, and that Israel restricts the movement of relief convoys inside the Strip. Very little medical and food aid has reached northern Gaza this year.”

Unsurprisingly, Bowen does not provide readers with that “considerable evidence”. As we have previously noted here, that claim from the UN is completely unsupported and the delays in fact occur on the Gaza side of the crossings.

On the day of the publication of Bowen’s article, the situation was as follows:

What Bowen portrays as “limited supplies” are thousands of trucks of aid which – in contrast to his employment of the misleading phrase “now allows” – have been entering the Gaza Strip since October.

Bowen goes on:

“In response to this article, the Israeli embassy in London said claims by UN agencies about the food situation in Gaza were inaccurate and “constitute support of Hamas propaganda”. Israel says that if aid is not getting through, it’s because of the UN and aid agencies on the ground. The statement added that “Hamas steals aid from the residents of Gaza”.

After four months of war, law and order in Gaza is in fragments. Aid convoys are looted every day. Sunday 11 February was the worse day of looting so far in the south, according to the UN. It said what’s left of the local police force stopped protecting convoys after eight of their men were killed in Israeli raids.”

Notably, Bowen does not clarify to readers that “the local police force” is in fact Hamas or that at least some of those policemen “killed in Israeli raids” held positions other than “protecting convoys”.

“The main target of the strike was Ahmed Al-Yaaqoubi, who the IDF and Shin Bet say was responsible for the security arrangements of senior Hamas officials and served as a senior officer in the Rafah district’s secret police department.

Iman Rantisi, a Hamas military operative and senior official in the terror group’s general security investigations department, and another officer in the Rafah district’s secret police department, were also killed in the strike, the IDF says.”

Bowen, who earlier in his article noted the BBC’s reliance on Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip whom he admires “for their courage and dedication to truthful reporting”, goes on to claim that because there are no foreign journalists on the ground, his media organisation cannot say whether or not Hamas is stealing humanitarian aid.

“Because we are not permitted to enter Gaza, we cannot check Israel’s claims that Hamas is stealing the food.

The UN’s prime suspects are criminal gangs who sell it on. Judging by the few videos of looting that have emerged, desperate individuals are doing it too.”

He goes on to promote the notion that the looters cannot be Hamas operatives because they are “not in uniforms”:

“”I don’t know who they are,” Jamie McGoldrick, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator told me. “They’re young guys, not in uniforms. They just come here and they stop us and take stuff off the back. And it turns up in the market sometimes. I wouldn’t mind if desperate people got to use it but you see some stuff in the market which has been taken off our trucks.” Mr McGoldrick said it was getting impossible to operate in such a lawless environment.”

Bowen refrains from telling his readers about the filmed footage of Hamas operatives stealing aid and the testimonies of civilians in the Gaza Strip on that issue. Already in mid-January COGAT reported that:

Bowen continues, once again touting the false notion of “a war crime”:

“Israel is increasingly sensitive about accusations that it is responsible for the suffering of civilians in Gaza, because of pressure from its allies, especially the US, and the genocide case it is facing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Later this month, it has to show the court that it has improved conditions for non-combatants in Gaza.

International aid groups say on top of the fact that innocent civilians in Gaza are being killed and wounded, they are also being starved and deprived of medical treatment. The Geneva Convention says that punishing civilians for crimes they did not commit amounts to collective punishment, which is a war crime.”

On the same day that Bowen’s article appeared, Ynet’s military correspondent Yoav Zeitoun published a report which includes the following:

“Every day Israel allows the entry of 250 aid trucks from its southern crossings of food, water, medicine and fuel into the Gaza Strip […]

About half of the trucks are unloaded into warehouses near the Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings, and half of them go to Palestinian trucks traveling north towards Gaza City. At the coastal checkpoint that the IDF established as part of the Netzerim Corridor, the soldiers are amazed by the reactions of the Gazan drivers. “If they are not looted by Hamas operatives on their way from Khan Yunis here, we check them and release them north to Gaza City,” describes a senior field commander in the area, “and then the trucks return after a short time, completely emptied because Hamas operatives took over all the food, water and fuel. The truck drivers told me that they begged to at least leave them the truck.” […]

But the IDF recognized very well how the aid trucks were looted by Hamas operatives along the abandoned coastal route, minutes after they crossed the IDF checkpoint. Division 162 deployed special ambushes against the looting of the trucks and thus eliminated dozens of terrorists in the last few weeks. Hamas learned, and proceeded to loot the food and water for the benefit of its operatives at the entrance to UNRWA shelters, where the trigger finger is more sensitive due to the large civilian presence.”

The BBC’s international editor, however, has passed up on anything approaching investigative journalism on that issue and instead would have the corporation’s funding public believe that the reason he and his colleagues cannot “check Israel’s claims that Hamas is stealing the food” is because of Israel and Egypt. How convenient.

Related Articles:

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BBC AVOIDS THE ISSUE OF HAMAS THEFT OF HUMANITARIAN AID

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1 Comment

  1. says: Neil C

    Bowen is incapable of checking his tyre pressures let alone facts. I fail to see why this anti Israel reporter gets air time or journalistic space when facts go out of the window and he relies on his contacts in Iran, Hamas and Hezbolla for information. #defundthebbc #binbowen

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