Melanie Phillips

30 October 2011

The BBC airbrushes out Palestinian attacks -- again

Published in: Daily Mail

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During the past 24 hours, Israel has been under sustained rocket attack from Gaza. Some 35 rockets and mortar shells were fired deep into the country, killing one man in Ashkelon and injuring four other people elsewhere.  In Ashdod, vehicles were set on fire and a school --fortunately empty -- was hit. The rocket barrage followed an IDF strike on Gaza which killed five members of Islamic Jihad – and which itself was targeted at the IJ terrorist cell responsible for launching a Grad rocket that exploded in Ashdod last Wednesday.

This, however, is how BBC News has reported the past day’s events on its website:

'Militants killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza

'Five Palestinian militants have been killed in a number of Israeli air strikes on the south of the Gaza Strip. The violence is the most serious since a major prisoner exchange deal earlier this month between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that governs in Gaza.

'The militants were killed at an Islamic Jihad training site in Rafah in the south of the strip. Doctors say at least 10 other people were injured in the strike. The Israeli air force has confirmed it carried out the attack. It said the militants were preparing to launch rockets into Israel.

'An Israeli army spokesman confirmed to the AFP news agency that aircraft had attacked other sites. A statement said the Israeli military had “attacked three terrorist sites in the Gaza Strip as well as an arms factory in the south of the territory”.

'...The violence comes less than two weeks after a major prisoner exchange which saw about 500 Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli jails in a swap for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Some of those released were Islamic Jihad members.

'A further 500 Palestinian prisoners are due to be freed as part of the deal later this year. BBC Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison says an escalation in violence could jeopardise those releases.'

No mention of the Palestinian rocket attack on Ashdod last Wednesday. No mention of the 35 rocket attacks on Israel during the past day, nor the Israeli killed in Ashkelon. Instead, the BBC has given the false impression on its website that the Israelis initiated the attacks -- and the only casualties it reported were Palestinian.

This website report was timed as ‘last updated’ at 1412 on Saturday. But even on the midnight Radio Four news bulletin just now there was still no mention of the rocket attacks on Israel over the past day, nor the murdered Israeli, nor of last Wednesday’s Grad attack – merely a vague and weaselly reference to Israel accusing the Palestinians of ‘carrying out recent rocket attacks’.

This reporting is simply disgraceful and inexcusable. Such selective manipulation of the facts and consequent misrepresentation of cause and effect reverses victim and aggressor in the Middle East, serves the cause of Arab propaganda and foments public hatred of Israel, all with untold consequences around the world.

As has been observed for years, the BBC’s reporting on Israel is out of control. The BBC is clearly incapable of putting its own house in order; its abuse of journalism on this most sensitive of issues is now so egregious that it is surely a matter that should be raised in Parliament.

 Update October 30: Finally, belatedly, the BBC reported the attacks on Israel in a website story here at 0410 this morning.

About Melanie

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.

Read full biography

Books

  • The World Turned Upside Down
  • Londonistan
  • The Ascent of Woman
  • America's Social Revolution

Contact Melanie

Melanie Phillips
Daily Mail
Northcliffe House
2 Derry Street
London W8 5TT

Contact Melanie