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July 8, 2014 12:44 am

BBC’s Gaza Correspondent Tells Listeners Civilian Kibbutz is ‘Military Outpost’

avatar by Hadar Sela

BBC logo. Photo: BBC.

Last week, listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Outside Source’ heard presenter Ros Atkins speaking to the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly and the BBC Gaza office’s Rushdi Abualouf about the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir from Shuafat. That segment of the programme is available here.

Listeners will gain some insight into the interesting way in which Connolly – and presumably his colleagues – have interpreted the Israeli prime minister’s condemnation of the murder of Mhuammed Abu Khdeir.

Connolly: “We know very little [unintelligible] person about Muhammed Abu Khdeir yet and that’s one of the tragedies of this kind of sectarian murder of course – if that’s what it turns out to be – that he wasn’t killed because of who he was; merely as a matter of his ethnic identity. As I say, the real fear here is that this is a sectarian tit-for-tat killing. This is all still evolving – the Israeli police aren’t saying that clearly yet – but when you look at the statement from Benjamin Netanyahu, which I would think we would translate that as being a despicable murder, it’s very, very strong language from Benjamin Netanyahu. He was challenged by the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to come out and condemn it and has done so in the strongest possible terms, so I think the fact that Netanyahu was talking in those terms shows you that Israelis as well as Palestinians assume this to be a sectarian killing and Benjamin Netanyahu, who has already made it known that he’s calling on the country’s security minister Yitzhak Aharonovich to catch the killers of this Palestinian teenager, that is all to do with what you quoted Netanyahu saying there; that the view of the Israeli government of course is that this is a law-based state and that means everybody has to observe the law. So Muhammed Abu Khdeir; as I say we will know about the young man – his personality, his life – perhaps after his funeral. But for the moment the tragedy – his death – is surrounded in this kind of fog of sectarian hatred.”

Connolly then goes on to provide listeners with an interesting view of his understanding of why the residents of a neighbourhood of Jerusalem were rioting against the very security forces investigating the youth’s murder and trying to uncover the facts about the case.

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“Well it’s inevitable when you have a large-scale police operation like this – as you’re going to have after an abduction or a murder; a big police inquiry – that is going to raise tensions in an Arab area of East Jerusalem like Shuafat or Beit Hanina. They’re right beside each other, I should say. So, the police operations will be resented by the Palestinians because of course in East Jerusalem – an Arab area annexed by Israel as Yolande said after it was captured in the war of 1967 – Israeli operations there will always be resented by Palestinians. The potential is always there for those kind of clashes between the Israeli police on the other as the investigation gets underway. But behind those  public order disturbances, which naturally attract our attention, a murder inquiry is underway and I would say there’ll be huge political pressure on the Israeli police to catch quickly the killers of Muhammed Abu Khdeir to demonstrate to the Palestinian people, to demonstrate to the wider world, that Israel takes his killing as seriously as it took the killing of those three teenagers whose abduction dominated the headlines here for three weeks.”

Atkins then moves on to speak with Rushdi Abualouf, who promotes a number of inaccurate points to listeners.

“Let’s bring in the BBC’s Rushdi Abualouf live with us from Gaza City. Well Rushdi, we spoke yesterday on ‘Outside Source’. You described air strikes. What’s happened in the 24 jours since?

Abualouf: “There was only one more airstrike on Gaza, targeting a place where militants did launch…eh…three more rockets toward the south of Israel. It’s been more, like, relatively quiet since the big…eh…wave of airstrikes – like 34 airstrikes is been targeting Hamas institutions in the Gaza Strip got hit shortly after the discovering of the three bodies – the three Israeli teenager bodies in the West Bank.”

Abualouf is clearly trying to promote the notion of linkage between the discovery of the bodies of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frankel, and Gilad Sha’ar on June 30th and the airstrikes carried out in the early hours of July 1st. However, that is not the case: those airstrikes came in response to the firing of more than eighteen missiles at Israeli civilian communities in southern Israel by terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Abualouf then goes on to promote another falsehood.

This morning the militants fired a couple of mortars towards one of the Israeli military outpost close to the border between Gaza and Israel and people are expecting Israel might, like, do more strikes tonight if the rockets from Gaza continue to fall in the south of Israel.”

In the incident Abualouf describes, nine mortars – not “a couple” – were fired at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom – a civilian agricultural community in the Eshkol region: not a “military outpost” as Abualouf inaccurately informs BBC audiences.

No effort was made by Atkins to correct that inaccurate statement by Rushdi Abualouf or any of the other misleading and inaccurate information he provided to BBC audiences.

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