BBC reporting on Shavuot rocket attacks on northern Israel

On June 12th the BBC News website published a report by David Gritten under the headline “Hezbollah fires dozens of rockets into Israel after strike kills commander”. In fact, as acknowledged in the body of the report, hundreds rather than “dozens” of rockets were launched into Israeli territory on that day.

The report opens:

“Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement has fired multiple barrages of rockets into northern Israel in retaliation for an Israeli strike which killed one of its senior commanders.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reportedly identified more than 200 projectiles that crossed the border on Wednesday. Some triggered fires, but no casualties were reported.”

At no point in the report are readers informed that Wednesday June 12th was a national holiday in Israel – Shavuot – or that rocket attacks on civilian communities had also taken place before that “Israeli strike”, during the holiday eve celebrations which commenced after sundown on June 11th as well as earlier in the day .

Gritten’s portrayal of the attacks against Israel on June 12th tells readers that:

“Israeli media described Hezbollah’s rocket and missile fire on Wednesday as “unprecedented” since the escalation in the conflict eight months ago.

Sirens sounded across northern Israel throughout the morning, when more than 170 projectiles were identified as crossing from Lebanon, according to the IDF.

Some of the projectiles were intercepted and others fell in several areas of northern Israel, causing fires to break out in some locations, it said. […]

By the late afternoon, the total number of projectiles launched from Lebanon had reached 215, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported.

It also cited Israel’s Fire and Rescue Authority as saying that the fires sparked by the rockets had endangered “strategic sites and facilities”.

Fire-fighters, volunteers, park rangers and soldiers were close to gaining control over blazes in the northern communities of Biriya, Kadita, Ein Zeitim, and Tziv’on, it added.”

Quoting Hizballah, Gritten tells readers that:

“Among the targets were Israeli military headquarters in Ein Zeitim and Ami’ad, a military air surveillance station in Meron, and a “military factory” in Sasa, according to the group.”

That “military factory” in the civilian community of Kibbutz Sasa manufactures products including armour for the protection of military vehicles and body armour.

Gritten does not adequately clarify that civilian communities (including those of ethnic minorities) were also targeted and the report has not been updated to include news of additional attacks which took place after the “late afternoon”.

BBC audiences are told that:

“Hezbollah said it had carried out at least 17 operations against Israel on Wednesday, including eight in response to the “assassination” of Taleb Abdullah and three other fighters.”

Readers are provided with second and third hand descriptions of that terrorist organisation commander:

“The IDF said Abdullah and three other Hezbollah operatives were killed in a strike on a Hezbollah command-and-control centre in the village of Jouaiyya on Tuesday night.

It described Abdullah as “one of Hezbollah’s most senior commanders in southern Lebanon” and accused him of planning and carrying out “a large number of terror attacks against Israeli civilians”.

Security sources in Lebanon told Reuters news agency that Abdullah was Hezbollah’s commander for the central region of the southern border strip and that he was more senior than Wissam Tawil, a commander of the elite Radwan Force who was killed in an Israeli strike in January.”

As reported by the ITIC:

“The IDF spokesperson confirmed that Abdallah, the commander of Hezbollah’s al-Nasr unit, and three other Hezbollah operatives were killed in an Israeli Air Force attack on Hezbollah’s headquarters in Jwayya, from where the organization directed its attacks against Israel from southeast Lebanon. The IDF spokesperson stated that Abdallah had planned, orchestrated and carried out many acts of terrorism against the citizens of Israel (IDF spokesperson website, June 12, 2024). According to reports, Abdallah had commanded the eastern sector of south Lebanon since 2016 and commanded the attacks on Israel in the current conflict. He was also responsible for an attempted abduction of IDF soldiers in Kafr Ghagar in 2005, commanded the Bint Jbeil Brigade in the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and led an anti-tank missile ambush in which two IDF soldiers were killed on Mount Dov in 2015 (Israeli media, June 12, 2024).”

BBC reporting on that 2015 attack at Mount Dov was discussed here:

PATCHY BBC REPORTING ON HIZBALLAH ATTACKS IN NORTHERN ISRAEL

HOW THE BBC FRAMED THE STORY OF HIZBALLAH’S LATEST ATTACK

BBC’S ORLA GUERIN IGNORES THE ELEPHANT IN SOUTHERN LEBANON

Ha’aretz reported that:

“According to the army’s statement, Abdallah served as the commander of the so-called ‘Nasser Unit’ that led rocket launching into Israel’s Galilee region. The unit is also responsible for the fires ignited in northern Israel following the launches last week. […]

The IDF emphasized that Abdullah held significant operational knowledge for Hezbollah, and he was killed while ordering a rocket launch toward the northern Israeli community of Kfar Blum, along with three other Hezbollah members. […]

According to Hezbollah, Abdallah was a close friend of former Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani and former Hezbollah military leader Imad Mughnieyh, who was killed by Israel in Damascus in 2008. In his latest role, he was responsible for the organization’s operations in southern Lebanon, from Bint Jbeil to Mount Dov.”

In other words, Gritten – who obviously read both Ha’aretz reports and IDF statements – could have provided BBC audiences with much more information on the topic of the reasons behind the targeting of that particular Hizballah commander.

Background information provided to readers of this report includes the following:

“There have been exchanges of fire across the Israel-Lebanon border almost every day since the day after the start of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza on 7 October.”

Gritten fails to clarify that it was Hizballah that began those “exchanges of fire” when it attacked Israel on October 8th 2023.

Readers are also told that:

“More than 375 people have been killed in Lebanon, including at least 88 civilians, according to Lebanese authorities and the UN, while the Israeli military says 18 soldiers and 10 civilians have been killed in Israel.”

Interestingly, while he does provide a breakdown of civilian/combatant casualties in Israel, Gritten refrains from informing his audiences that, as reported by the Times of Israel:

“Hezbollah has named 341 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 62 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and dozens of civilians have been killed.”

Since October 8th 2023, the relatively limited BBC reporting on events in northern Israel and southern Lebanon has continually promoted a bland narrative of “exchanges of fire” while providing scant information on the situation in the communities of various ethnicities in northern Israel. That of course means that the ability of those getting their news from the BBC to understand the context of any future developments is already compromised.

Related Articles:

BBC NEWS REPORTS ‘ISRAEL STRIKES’ BUT FAILS TO PROVIDE FULL CONTEXT

A BBC JOURNALIST PROMOTES A LEBANESE TERROR GROUP’S CLAIMS AS ‘NEWS’

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