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February 27, 2023 11:27 am

BBC Provides Cover for Terrorists in Coverage of Nablus Raid

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avatar by Hadar Sela


Illustrative: People gather at the scene where two Palestinian militants were killed during clashes with Israeli forces in a raid, in Nablus in the West Bank, July 24, 2022. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta

On the afternoon of February 22, a report appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Nablus clashes: Nine Palestinians killed during Israeli raid.” Over the next nine hours, that article was amended five times. The version that will remain on the website as “permanent public record” appears under the title “Eleven Palestinians killed during Israeli raid in Nablus” and is credited to Tom Bateman and David Gritten.

The BBC’s report relates to a counter-terrorism operation conducted earlier the same day in Nablus (Schem), with the aim of arresting three wanted terrorists who had previously been involved in carrying out shooting attacks against Israelis, and who were planning to carry out additional attacks in the near future. According to the The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC), the Israeli forces surrounded the building in which the three wanted terrorists had barricaded themselves, and called on them to turn themselves in, but they refused. One of the terrorists was shot dead while trying to escape the building and two were killed while still inside. The ITIC goes on to note that: [translation CAMERA UK, emphasis added]

At the same time as the surrounding of the house, clashes began between the forces and armed Palestinians who gathered at the site and in other locations in the city. They shot at the troops, threw stones and threw explosive devices and Molotov cocktails. The forces responded with massive fire. In those incidents another eight Palestinians were killed and many were injured. Of the dead, six were members of the Lions’ Den organisation, of which two were operatives of the military arm of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, one was an operative of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Battalions and three were Lions’ Den operatives.

However the caption to the main photograph illustrating the BBC’s report describes the events portrayed in the sentence highlighted above as follows: “Palestinian youths threw stones and other objects at Israeli armoured troop carriers.”

The report by Bateman and Gritten opens:

Israeli troops have killed at least 11 Palestinians and wounded dozens more during a raid in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian health officials say.

Explosions and gunfire sounded as troops entered the old city of Nablus on Wednesday morning, sparking armed clashes with Palestinian gunmen.

The Israeli military said it killed three wanted militants holed up inside a house who refused to surrender.

Several of those killed outside were civilians, including two elderly men.

The BBC’s report makes no attempt to determine whether or not any of those killed were in fact shot by Palestinian terrorists.

Readers then find a list of names provided by the Palestinian Authority (PA) health ministry:

The Palestinian health ministry said 72-year-old Adnan Saabe Baara was one of them. Video footage purportedly showed his body in a street next to bags of bread, in what is usually a busy market area.

A 61-year-old man, Abdul Hadi Ashqar, and a 16-year-old boy, Mohammad Shaaban, were also shot dead, the ministry said.

Another elderly man, Anan Shawkat Annab, 66, who suffered from tear-gas inhalation, died in hospital on Wednesday evening.

Only then are readers informed that over half of those killed were terrorists:

Six members of the Lions’ Den and other militant groups were killed during the raid, the Lions’ Den said in a Telegram post.

Twelve paragraphs later, the three wanted men are identified, predictably without the use of the words terrorists or terrorism.

Interestingly, the BBC’s report uses the term “suspected” even though one of the terrorists had spoken on camera about the shooting attack last October.

Two of the militants in the encircled building were Muhammad Junaidi, a commander in Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and another senior militant figure, Hussam Isleem.

The IDF said they and the third militant, Walid Dkhail, were suspected of carrying out previous shooting attacks, including one in the West Bank last October that killed an Israeli soldier, and of planning more attacks in the near future. Two other suspects were arrested in Nablus last week.

As we see, the BBC amended this report several times to include the names and in some cases ages and additional information of seven of the eleven people killed on February 22 in Nablus, as information became available.

That fact is particularly interesting given that just eight days earlier, in response to a complaint from CAMERA UK concerning the failure to name the victims of the February 10 terror attack in Ramot, the BBC had stated:

Unsurprisingly, the BBC’s report includes uncritical promotion of Palestinian Authority and Hamas talking points relating to a counter-terrorism operation:

Senior Palestinian official Hussein al-Sheikh condemned what he described as a “massacre”, while a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he held Israel’s government responsible for “this dangerous escalation, which is pushing the region toward tension and an explosion”.

The militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, warned that it was “monitoring the escalating crimes conducted by the enemy against our people in the occupied West Bank and is running out of patience”.

Equally predictable is the report’s promotion of false equivalence between Palestinian terror attacks and Israeli counter-terrorism operations:

So far this year, more than 60 Palestinians – including militants and civilians – have been killed, while 11 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis.

As has become standard practice in its coverage of terrorism and counter-terrorism in recent months, the BBC fails to inform audiences that while 10 of  the 11 Israelis and foreign nationals murdered in January and February 2023 were civilians, the majority of the Palestinians killed were terrorists or males engaged in violence at the time.

Hadar Sela is the co-editor of CAMERA UK – an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), where a version of this article first appeared.

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