BBC’s Yolande Knell downplays Ramadan incitement

On March 4th the BBC News website published a report by Yolande Knell under the headline “Gaza war: Hopes for ceasefire falter ahead of Ramadan”.

That report opens with quotes from a ‘Newshour’ interview with Hamas’ Basem Naim:

“Hopes had been high over the past week following talks in Paris that there could be a new Gaza ceasefire deal in place for the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan next week.

However, while Hamas has now sent a delegation to Cairo for further negotiations with Egyptian and Qatari mediators, Israel has not. This looks like a serious new block.

Israeli officials – quoted in local media – demand clear answers from Hamas on key issues as well as a list of the surviving Israeli hostages who could be released with an agreement.

Meanwhile, a senior Hamas official, Dr Basem Naim, told the BBC on Sunday that “practically, it is impossible to know who is still alive” because of continuing Israeli bombing.

“They are in different areas with different groups. We have asked for a ceasefire to collect that data,” he added.

Dr Naim went on to say that such “valuable information” about the hostages could not be given “for free”. He, and other senior Hamas figures, have also been continuing to demand a full ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, rather than a temporary truce.”

Knell has nothing to tell her readers in her own words about the improbability of the professed inability of Hamas (which of course has no problem producing Palestinian casualty figures that are regularly and unquestioningly quoted and promoted by the BBC) to provide a list of living hostages.

Readers are later informed that:

“Without a deal, there is a higher threat of a further spread of tensions during Ramadan, which this year is due to begin on 10 or 11 March, depending on the lunar calendar.”

Knell continues:

“Israel is expected to impose restrictions on access for Palestinians to the holiest Muslim site in occupied East Jerusalem, the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, citing its security concerns.

The site – which is also the holiest place in Judaism, known as Temple Mount – has often been a flashpoint for violence in the decades-old Israel-Palestinian conflict.”

The day after Knell’s article was published it was announced that access to Temple Mount during Ramadan would follow the same format as in previous years but her report was not updated to reflect that development.

As we see, Knell uses the PLO recommended term “al-Aqsa Mosque compound” despite the instructions in the BBC’s style guide:

In an interview with Al Jazeera, the same Basem Naim – a member of Hamas’ political bureau –  stated that:

“…we as Muslims well know that the month of Ramadan is a month of jihad, a month of victories, a month of the deaths of martyrs. I think that the month of Ramadan will be an opportunity for additional actions on additional fronts, especially in the West Bank and Jerusalem.”

Knell, however, tells her readers that: [emphasis added]

“Hamas is well aware of international fears about a new conflagration and has previously used al-Aqsa to raise the stakes.

Last week, in a televised address, the leader of the Islamist group, Ismail Haniyeh, claimed Hamas was showing flexibility in negotiations, but also called on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem to march to the mosque to pray on the first day of Ramadan.”

Knell makes no mention of Ramadan related incitement from Iran and its proxies, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas itself:

“Hamas has called on Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank to rise up against Israel during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan, speaking to reporters in Beirut on Monday, said Palestinians should “make every moment of Ramadan a confrontation.””

In other words, while Yolande Knell was happy to provide uncritical amplification for Basem Naim’s excuses for stalling ceasefire talks, she failed to adequately inform readers of the decidedly predictable incitement aimed at escalating and expanding violence against Israelis (including overseas) which is intentionally being promoted by Hamas and its fellow travellers.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Sid

    Yolande Knell is not impartial – she is married to an Arab and lives in Beit Suffafa in Jerusalem.
    What can you expect from the BBC, either Arabs or UK based anti Israel journalists – never Jews!

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