BBC’s Davies and Adams promote Sinai speculations

On the evening of Friday February 16th the BBC News website published a report headlined “Israel Gaza war: Satellite images show construction on Egypt’s border” on its Middle East page.

Written by Alys Davies and Paul Adams, that report was also translated into Arabic and it begins by telling BBC audiences that:

“Satellite images appear to show extensive construction work in progress along Egypt’s border with Gaza, which reports claim is being carried out in preparation for housing Palestinian refugees.

Unnamed Egyptian sources reportedly said the work is being done in order to set up an isolated buffer zone containing a walled enclosure in Egypt’s North Sinai province in case Israel goes ahead with its planned ground offensive in Gaza’s southernmost city, Rafah.

According to a report published by a human rights group, seven-metre-high walls are being constructed in the zone.

Egypt has publicly denied making any such preparations.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant also said Israel “has no intention of evacuating Palestinian civilians to Egypt”.” [emphasis added]

The article continues:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears set on a major offensive in Rafah – where some 1.4 million people are sheltering – despite a chorus of international warnings.

Israel claims Hamas forces are in the city and must be “eliminated”. It also believes Israeli hostages – of which 130 are still unaccounted for – are being held there. […]

The latest satellite imagery, released by Maxar Technologies, may suggest that Egypt has decided to take precautionary measures as a result of the impending offensive.”

Later, readers find the following:

“In addition to the satellite images, photos and videos of the area captured and published by members of the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights also appear to show construction work taking place.

The group said in a report earlier this week that the footage – which has not been verified by the BBC – shows an enclosure featuring seven-metre-high walls being constructed in the area.

The report also quoted a source with knowledge of the matter saying that construction is being carried out with the aim of “receiving refugees from Gaza in the event of a mass exodus of residents of the Strip”.”

Readers are not told that the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights – aka Sinai for Human Rights – is a private limited company registered in the UK, that none of its declared six members of staff currently reside in Egypt or that they include US-based long time anti-Israel activist Sarah Leah Whitsonformerly of Human Rights Watch – who currently works for DAWN and sits on the advisory board of an organisation called the ICJP which engages in lawfare against Israel.

Another member of that PLC’s staff is US-based Mohamed Soltan whose father – as the BBC knows – is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Soltan took part in a 2009 convoy to the Gaza Strip (during which he was interviewed by Press TV: from 10:37 here) organised by George Galloway’s ‘Viva Palestina’.

Soltan: “The Egyptian government, not the Egyptian people, because the Egyptian government is not allowing us because they are a puppet for the American and the Israeli regime. We need to be there. We should have been on the border of Rafah and entering Gaza today to be with the people of Gaza to tell them that we came from halfway across the world to be with you on the anniversary of a holocaust, the second holocaust [Operation Cast Lead – Ed.]. And that’s what we try to do, but instead we’re here standing in Aqaba in front of the consulate asking God that he open the borders for us and help us get through Gaza so we can be there with our brothers in solidarity with our brothers in Gaza.” [emphasis added]

Davies and Adams however proceed to promote unverified speculations – and framing – based on claims made by that ‘human rights’ organisation:

“UN officials are deeply apprehensive, fearing that a mass evacuation may be looming. “It looks like it’s heading that way,” one official told the BBC on condition of anonymity.

Speaking to Reuters news agency at the Munich Security Conference, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi warned that a spill-over of refugees from Rafah into Egypt would be “a disaster for the Palestinians… a disaster for Egypt and a disaster for the future of peace”.

Expulsion into Egypt – which is how any evacuation across the border will feel – touches on the deepest Palestinian fears.

Around 80% of the Gaza Strip’s population are descended from refugees who fled or were driven from their villages during Israel’s War of Independence.

To leave Gaza, the last fragment of their ancestral home, would feel to many like a repeat of what Palestinians call the “Naqba”, or catastrophe of 1948.

Even if a refugee camp just across the border is described as a temporary shelter, the sense of shock that would accompany their departure from Gaza is likely to be profound.

And while Israel might want to portray this as a voluntary move – a response to an Egyptian invitation – Palestinians would struggle to see it as anything other than another forced expulsion, after more than four months of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip.”

The day after the appearance of this BBC item, the Egyptian authorities explained the aim of that construction work. The banner in the upper-right photograph reads “waiting compound for the Gaza Strip aid trucks”.

However, Davies and Adams have to date refrained from making any amendments to their report in order to inform BBC audiences of those statements from Egyptian officials and so their unverified speculations, based on claims from a partisan organisation, remain on two BBC websites as ‘news’. 

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4 Comments

  1. says: Grimey

    The move on Rafah is another golden opportunity for the IPC (aka BBC) to use their Muslim-inspired “journalists” to slag off Israel to their wide audiences. Never does the IPC publish one word now about the Oct 7 massacre and the 100+ hostages held – it’s all about pushing its antisemitic tropes.

  2. says: Neil C

    Only fools (and horses) believe a word the BBC print, produce or broadcast when reporting about Israel. It takes a special type of antisemite to produce daily negative reports about Israel. I do not remember one positive report about Israel in the last fifty years, shame on you, shame on you, shame on you, shame on you, shame on you, shame on you, shame on you, shame on you, shame on you, #defundthebbc

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