BBC reporting on Jabalia shows images from one side of the story

On May 31st the BBC News website published a report by Raffi Berg which now goes under the title “Israel ends three-week offensive in north Gaza town”.

That report relates to a 20-day operation in Jabalia [also Jabaliya] which commenced on May 12th – the day after civilians had been instructed to evacuate the area as reported by local media at the time:

“The military on Saturday said it was also preparing to launch a new operation in northern Gaza’s Jabaliya, after identifying attempts by Hamas to regroup there.

A separate evacuation order was given for the Jabaliya area, where the IDF estimated between 100,000 and 150,000 Palestinians were.

Civilians were being told to move to shelters west of Gaza City.”

The BBC’s report tells readers that:

“The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had gone back into the city months after pulling out, saying that Hamas was regrouping there. […]

The IDF’s second ground operation in Jabalia came four months after it had declared it had dismantled Hamas’s military capabilities in northern Gaza.”

BBC audiences are not told that: [emphasis added]

“IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Tuesday that troops are now operating in areas of Jabaliya that the IDF previously did not reach in the initial ground offensive in northern Gaza. More than 80 gunmen have been killed in the operation that started on Sunday.”

The IDF’s recent operations in Jabalia are summed up by Berg as follows:

“The military said “hundreds of terrorists [had been] eliminated” and 10km (6 miles) of tunnels destroyed during the operation.”

The Times of Israel reported that:

“The IDF estimated that it killed around 500-600 terror operatives during the operation in Jabaliya. Only 350 have been verified so far, following battles and airstrikes. […]

Underground, some 12 kilometers (7 miles) worth of Hamas tunnels were demolished by combat engineers, after troops raided the underground networks, the military said.”

Notably, Berg does not mention that among the terrorists killed was the commander of Hamas’s Beit Hanoun Battalion.

Berg goes on:

“Pictures from Jabalia show widespread destruction, with multi-storey buildings reduced to rubble or bombed out shells.”

BBC audiences are not told that many of the residential and commercial buildings were booby trapped or that one of the buildings destroyed during the operation was a Hamas headquarters.

Berg’s report continues:

“During the operation, the bodies of seven Israelis killed during the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October and taken to Gaza were discovered and repatriated.”

BBC audiences are not informed that the bodies of the seven Israelis murdered on October 7th were discovered in a booby trapped tunnel, the entrance to which was inside a house.

Berg goes on:

“The Times of Israel said IDF officers had described the fighting in Jabalia as some of the most intense of the war. The IDF said Hamas had “turned the civilian area into a fortified combat compound, fired towards the troops from sheltered areas and schools, and built an underground terrorist network from within civilian buildings”.

It said it had destroyed rocket launchers “ready for use” and several weapons production sites.”

Readers of this report are not told that while the operation in Jabalia was in progress, terrorists fired rockets at civilian communities in Israel from that location.

Berg’s quoted reference to “sheltered areas” is explained in a Times of Israel report from May 17th:

“Hamas operatives have also been launching attacks from within or near humanitarian shelters in Jabaliya, according to the army. The shelters have since been evacuated of civilians.

The IDF said troops of the 101st Paratroopers Battalion, operating alongside the tank forces, located a rocket depot adjacent to one of the shelters. Dozens of long-range rockets and rocket parts were found at the site, it says.

At the adjacent shelter, some 20 suspected terror operatives were detained by troops, the IDF added. Some 40 suspects total were captured in Jabaliya in recent days.”

BBC audiences are not shown any of the photographic evidence of weapons production sites, weapons caches and rocket launching sites that were discovered during the operation. Neither are they shown the photographs and footage of weapons and tunnels discovered inside schools or the explosives used to booby trap buildings

Berg’s report is illustrated with a main photograph showing damaged and destroyed buildings and a graphic titled “Satellite data maps damage in northern Gaza”. Clearly the question that must be asked is why the BBC is prepared to show its audiences images relating to damage in Jabalia but not those showing the terrorist infrastructure and assets which are the root cause of that damage to a residential area.

That question becomes all the more pertinent in light of another BBC News website report published days later on June 3rd.

Written by David Gritten, that report is headlined “Gazans returning to Jabalia describe ‘horrifying’ destruction” and it too exclusively promotes images of damaged or destroyed buildings, along with the same graphic used in Berg’s article.

“Palestinians who have returned to Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza in recent days have expressed shock at the level of destruction following a three-week Israeli military operation there against Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups.

One displaced man who was among the more than 60,000 people who fled the intense battles and bombardment in the camp and its surrounding area last month said he had witnessed “horrifying scenes”.

“Even the sand beneath our feet is scorched; it’s unbearable to walk on,” he told BBC Arabic. “The streets are strewn with rubble and demolished buildings. Words fail to describe the devastation.””

Having apparently learned nothing about the reliability of claims made by the Hamas-run Gaza Civil Defence team, Gritten uncritically promotes unverified claims from one of its spokesmen and a Hamas minister. His report also includes claims from UNRWA, along with vox pop statements given to BBC Arabic.

““East Jabalia has been subjected to an unprecedented devastation,” Diab Abu Salama said. “All the stores in Jabalia have been destroyed, as well as the homes surrounding them.”

“There is no doubt that the goal of the occupation [Israel] in displacing people and destroying their homes and shops is to force them to leave this country,” he claimed, before adding: “But we will remain steadfast.””

Like his colleague, Gritten makes no effort whatsoever to inform his readers of the booby-trapped buildings and military assets found in Jabalia. Neither does he clarify that the location and destruction of “more than 10km (six miles) of an underground tunnel network” that he describes earlier in his report provides the answer to a question raised by one of his vox pop interviewees:

“A woman, who asked not to be named, said the level of devastation was such that “we walk in the streets as if we are seeing them for the first time”.

She also urged the international community to take action to help Palestinians in Jabalia and elsewhere in Gaza.

“What is the reason for all this mass destruction?” she asked. “Please, hurry and come to us to see how much we are tormented.””

The reason for the mass destruction in Jabalia is that terrorist organisations including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad turned that town into a military asset.

With its repeatedly highly selective and one-sided reporting, the BBC prevents readers of its reports from understanding that central point of the story. 

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1 Comment

  1. says: Sid

    BBC have persistently reported mis facts to suit their anti Israel agenda.
    Not since 7 October 2023 but going back 50 years.

    What they fail to advise readers .listeners is that all journalists/presenters/reporters in Gaza have to be confirmed by Hamas. Little wonder that the BBC staff in London/Salford produce such material.

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