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March 25, 2014 12:04 pm

‘Impartial’ BBC Reporting of Hamas Propaganda on Cross-border Tunnel

avatar by Hadar Sela

The surprising length and level of completion of the Hamas terror tunnel, as exposed by the IDF, on March 21, 2014. Photo: IDF / Twitter.

The surprising length and level of completion of the Hamas terror tunnel, as exposed by the IDF, on March 21, 2014. Photo: IDF / Twitter.

A fine example of how the BBC’s  ‘impartial’ presentation of two sides of a story can at times be counter-productive to informing audiences – and simply absurd – was recently seen in an article that appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website under the title “Israel ‘uncovers longest Gaza tunnel’.”

The report relates to the recent discovery of yet another underground cross-border tunnel dug by Hamas from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. Four paragraphs of the article’s total of twelve are devoted to the uncritical amplification of the less bizarre parts of a statement made at a press conference held by Hamas, which, by its own admission, is responsible for the tunnel’s construction.

“The military wing of Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, dismissed the find, saying the tunnel was not new. […]

However Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, disputed Israel’s claim.

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A spokesman noted “there was no military or intelligence achievement by the enemy”, adding that “this tunnel is not new.

“It is an old tunnel that Israel exposed two months ago and jihad fighters worked to rebuild it.” “

There is in fact nothing in the quoted parts of the Hamas statement that enhances BBC audiences’ wider understanding of the story’s background. Nevertheless, the writer of this report opted to construct it entirely in the form of  ‘impartial’ repetition of the latest propaganda from an internationally designated terrorist organization (which has been caught several times violating the integrity of a sovereign state’s border by tunneling underneath it for the purpose of attacks on its citizens) side by side and on a level with the information concerning the tunnel’s discovery provided by the IDF.

What would have helped BBC audiences gain more insight into the significance of this latest discovery?

The subject of restrictions on the entry of specific goods into the Gaza Strip is frequently mentioned in BBC reports but this article makes no attempt to connect the dots by clarifying to audiences that it is precisely this sort of abuse of dual-use construction materials that makes restrictions on their entry necessary.

As was the case at the time of the previous discovery of a similar tunnel last October, the BBC  (similar to the rest of the Western media, it must be said) has made no attempt to further inform audiences of the manner in which building materials intended to benefit the civilian population of the Gaza Strip are expropriated by its ‘governing’ body (as the BBC describes Hamas) for the purpose of terrorism – at the expense of the welfare of its citizens. By avoiding that issue, the BBC denies its audiences vital context.

The BBC, which claims that it “aspires to remain the standard-setter for international journalism” could surely do more to facilitate “a global understanding of international issues” than making do with this ‘impartial’ presentation of meaningless Hamas public relations slogans.

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