BBC News sidelines Hamas attacks on humanitarian aid crossing

As previously discussed here, on May 5th the BBC News website published a report about a fatal Hamas rocket attack on the Kerem Shalom crossing which had taken place in the early afternoon of the same day:


On the morning of Tuesday May 7th, another rocket attack targeted the Kerem Shalom crossing – which had been closed as a result of the previous incident – and a nearby community.

A BBC News website report published that day – “Gaza war: Where has Israel told Rafah displaced to go?” by David Gritten – makes no mention of those attacks but does include the following:

“Kerem Shalom was shut on Sunday after four Israeli soldiers there were killed by 10 rockets launched by Hamas fighters from an area near the Rafah crossing, according to the IDF. But Israel’s prime minister told the US president on Monday that he would ensure Kerem Shalom reopened for humanitarian assistance.

Kerem Shalom was still closed on Tuesday morning, when the IDF announced that its troops had “obtained operational control” of the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing.”

On the morning of Wednesday May 8th COGAT announced that the Kerem Shalom crossing had been reopened.

That same morning, a report appeared on the BBC News website under the headline “Israel reopens key Kerem Shalom border crossing for Gaza aid”. Several hours later the title was changed and the report – by David Gritten – currently goes under the title “Battles in east Rafah amid dispute over reopening of Kerem Shalom crossing”.

That report briefly mentions the rocket attack on the previous day:

“Kerem Shalom is the key entry point for aid into Gaza, but Israel closed it on Sunday after four Israeli soldiers were killed by rockets launched by Hamas from the area of the Rafah crossing, according to the Israeli military.

Another six projectiles were fired at Kerem Shalom from the Rafah area on Tuesday, but no casualties were reported.”

Readers are also told that:

“On Wednesday morning, the IDF announced the reopening of Kerem Shalom for humanitarian aid. […]

However, the UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa – which is the largest humanitarian organisation in Gaza – reported that it had not received any Gaza aid via Kerem Shalom or Rafah, which remains closed.

“We’re not receiving any aid into the Gaza Strip, the Rafah crossing area has ongoing military operations – there have been continued bombardments in this area throughout the day,” said Scott Anderson, senior deputy director of Unrwa affairs in Gaza.

“No fuel or aid has entered into Gaza Strip and this is disastrous for the humanitarian response.”

An Israeli government spokesman disputed Unrwa’s assertion and insisted aid was going through Kerem Shalom.

“It is open and I would ask the UN why, day in and day out, there is so much surplus on the Gaza side of Kerem Shalom that is not being distributed,” Avi Hyman told a briefing.”

Despite having been updated twice on May 8th, three times on May 9th and again on May 13th, that report does not inform BBC audiences that late on the afternoon of the very day it had been reopened, the Kerem Shalom crossing once again came under attack.

“An Israeli soldier was lightly wounded in a rocket barrage fired from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip at the Kerem Shalom area earlier today, the military says.

Hamas fired eight rockets in the attack, which set off sirens in the community of Shlomit. […]

Earlier, Hamas launched several more rockets at the Kerem Shalom Crossing from Rafah, although the IDF says those projectiles failed to cross the border.”

An additional report published on May 8th – “US reveals it paused shipment of bombs for Israel over Rafah concerns” by Jaroslav Lukiv, Chris Partridge and Tom Bateman – likewise fails to mention the rocket attacks on that day, despite having been updated numerous times.

“The [Rafah] crossing remained closed on Wednesday morning, but the Israeli military said it was reopening the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing, which had been closed for four [sic] days because of Hamas rocket fire.”

The Kerem Shalom crossing was actually closed on the afternoon of May 5th and reopened on the Morning of May 8th – i.e. less that three days.

Another report by David Gritten – published on May 9th under the headline “Rafah: UN says 80,000 have fled Gaza city as Israeli strikes intensify” – likewise fails to make any mention of the attacks on Kerem Shalom the previous day. It does however tell readers that:

“Israeli troops took control and closed the Rafah crossing with Egypt at the start of their operation, while the UN said it was too dangerous for its staff and lorries to reach the reopened Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel. […]

“Perhaps most worrying, because [the] Rafah and Kerem Shalom entry points are closed, we are beginning to run out of fuel that enables us to provide the response to the people who are being displaced, as well as the other people in Gaza,” he [UNRWA representative] added. […]

On Wednesday, the Israeli military announced it had reopened the Kerem Shalom crossing, a key aid entry point that had been closed for four [sic] days because of a Hamas rocket fire.

It released a video showing aid lorries entering the crossing on Thursday, but the UN said the fighting made it impossible for it to pick up the supplies.

“The challenge is one of security. The combat operations are very focused in the south-east part of Rafah. There is a very large IDF presence. There seems to be a very large militant presence as well,” Mr Anderson said.”

Clearly BBC audiences could not be expected to fully understand the significance of that “very large militant presence” without having been told of the extent of repeated rocket attacks on the crossing.

On Friday May 10th, terrorists again attacked the Kerem Shalom crossing.

On the same day Hamas launched attacks on communities near the border with the Gaza Strip and the city of Be’er Sheva.

“Also Friday, five rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip at the southern city of Beersheba, according to the IDF. One was intercepted by the Iron Dome while the other four hit open areas, it said.

A 37-year-old woman was lightly wounded by shrapnel, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said, adding that the woman was taken to Soroka Hospital for treatment.

The shrapnel also caused some damage to a city park. It was not immediately clear if it was caused by a direct impact or a large fragment that fell and caused the damage.

Hours later, a second barrage nine rockets were launched from Rafah [at] Beersheba. The IDF said all nine rockets struck open area.

Hamas claimed the second barrage too.”

A BBC News website report by David Gritten – “Israeli operation leaves Rafah’s hospitals overwhelmed” – which was published on May 10th and updated three days later, makes no mention of that fourth attack on Kerem Shalom or the attacks on Be’er Sheva but does tell BBC audiences that:

“The Israeli advance has also cut off access to the nearby European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis, where critical patients were being referred for surgery, as well as the nearby Rafah and Kerem Shalom border crossings.”

Readers also find the following:

“The Israeli military also said it had reopened the nearby Kerem Shalom goods crossing for humanitarian aid on Wednesday, but the UN has said the fighting has made it impossible for it to pick up supplies there.

And unless they receive deliveries of fuel in the next few days, the World Health Organization has said all hospitals in Rafah and elsewhere in southern Gaza may soon have to halt services.”

On the day that report was published, fuel did enter the Gaza Strip via Kerem Shalom but the BBC did not update the article to reflect that fact.

On the afternoon of Saturday May 11th, the Kerem Shalom crossing was attacked once again.

An entry on a BBC News website live page (which did not appear on the ‘Middle East’ page) mentioned that attack but did not clarify that it was the fifth attack on that crossing in a week.

In fact, the Israeli army did not need to ‘blame’ Hamas for the rockets because that terrorist organisation claimed responsibility for the attack in which four soldiers were killed.

On Sunday May 12th terrorists again fired rockets at the Kerem Shalom crossing as well as at Sderot and Ashkelon.

“Sunday also saw rocket fire from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel. At around 1 a.m., a rocket fired at the southern city of Ashkelon directly struck a home, lightly wounding three people, authorities said.

Sirens again sounded in Ashkelon on Sunday afternoon, with no reports of damage or injuries.

Several rockets were also launched at the border city of Sderot, with some of the projectiles being intercepted and others hitting open areas, the IDF said.

The military said another two rockets fired from Rafah in southern Gaza at the Kerem Shalom area on the border were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system.”

A BBC News website report published on that day – “Israel orders more evacuations as Rafah fighting intensifies” by Rob Corp – includes a brief second-hand mention of the first attack on Ashkelon but was not updated to include the attack on Kerem Shalom or the fact that despite the incident, twelve fuel tankers entered the Gaza Strip.

“Israeli media report that several Hamas rockets were fired at Ashkelon overnight, a port city about 10km (six miles) north of the Gaza border. The Times of Israel says three people were lightly injured when one rocket hit their home.”

On May 13th the BBC News website published a report by Jacqueline Howard titled “Gaza war: UN hopes for new Western Erez aid crossing” which likewise fails to mention the previous day’s attack on Kerem Shalom. Readers are told that:

“The other point of entry in the south, Kerem Shalom, was closed prior to that after four Israeli soldiers were killed by rockets launched from Rafah by Hamas, according to the Israeli military.

Israel says the crossing has since reopened, but it now requires aid convoys to navigate an “active combat zone”, Mr Anderson said.

He said the UN needed a “fixed corridor” of access to Kerem Shalom to be established, which would need the agreement of both Hamas and Israel.

“We need all the parties to the conflict to agree to make sure the truck drivers and the UN staff undertaking this operation are safe,” he said.”

Clearly BBC audiences would be better placed to understand those statements from an UNRWA representative – as well as Howard’s own claim that “[t]he flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza has been hampered by the war, with Israel and aid groups trading blame” – had they been informed of the near daily attacks on the Kerem Shalom crossing and why Hamas repeatedly conducts such attacks on a facility crucial to the supply of aid to civilians.

As we see, only three of the six rocket attacks on the Kerem Shalom crossing in eight days were reported to some extent or another by the BBC. In addition, as has been the case for some time now, the BBC’s coverage of the war largely ignores Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli towns and cities both in the south and the north.

While BBC audiences have seen plenty of coverage of the topic of humanitarian aid and the border crossings through which it enters the Gaza Strip – including frequent quotes from UNRWA and other UN bodies – the obviously relevant issue of repeated Hamas attacks on the Kerem Shalom crossing has been sidelined, meaning that visitors to the BBC News website are not being told the full story either on the topic of humanitarian aid or in relation to military operations in the location from where those attacks were launched – Rafah.

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  1. says: Malone Cooper

    What can one expect from the BBC when they still have failed to release the 2004 Balen Report which was commissioned to study the persistent complaints of the BBC’s anti Israel bias ? There can only be one reason that the report has still not been released to the public.

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