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October 4, 2015 5:07 pm

Watchdog Blasts BBC Coverage of Jerusalem Stabbing Spree, Forces Corrections

avatar by Ruthie Blum

The tweet promoting the article, whose headline was changed three times. Photo: screenshot.

The tweet promoting the article, whose headline was changed three times. Photo: screenshot.

A media watchdog group slammed the BBC for its reportage of Saturday night’s bloody terror attack in Jerusalem, in which a knife-wielding Palestinian killed two Israelis and left the wife and baby of one of them seriously wounded, and the British outlet was forced to change its headline – three times.

BBC Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), exposed the headline – “Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two” – for failing to reflect what actually happened during the murderous rampage, making it sound as though the perpetrator had been a victim of Israeli security forces.

“[This] is not only a prime example of the ‘last-first reporting’ regularly employed by the BBC, but of course fails to clarify to audiences that the dead Palestinian was the terrorist who killed two people (later named as father of seven Rabbi Nechemia Lavi and father of two Rabbi Aharon Benita) and wounded a mother and her two-year-old son,” wrote BBC Watch in a dispatch on the coverage.

“Predictably, that headline prompted considerable protest on social media,” the dispatch went on. “And shortly after its publication, the title was changed to one displaying yet another regular feature of BBC reporting; the use of superfluous punctuation.”

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The changed headline read as follows: “Jerusalem attack: Israelis killed in Old City ‘by Palestinian.’”

Additional complaints circulated over the implication in the altered title that it was questionable whether a Palestinian had committed the double murder.

The headline was then amended to read: “Jerusalem attack: Israelis killed in Old City by Palestinian.”

Finally, it was altered a third and final time, now appearing as: “Jerusalem: Palestinian kills two Israelis in Old City.”

BBC Watch did not stop there, criticizing the content of the article on the attack, as well its updated incarnations.

In line with standard BBC practice, the word terror does not appear in any of the versions of an article describing a terror attack on Israeli civilians. Readers are told that: ‘It comes two days after an Israeli couple, who were in a car with their four children, were shot dead in the West Bank.’

Of course, BBC audiences had not been informed that was a terror attack either.

Readers of the third version of the report were told that: ‘Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, issued a statement praising the attack which it described as ‘heroic.”

They were not, however, informed that social media accounts belonging to Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party similarly praised the attack and described its perpetrator as a ‘hero.’ The information concerning Hamas was later removed.

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