BBC gets in a muddle on Gaza reporting

Ah, the BBC. If it's not one thing, it's another...

by Media Hawk on 15 November 2012 12:36

Yesterday’s news that Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari, a leading Hamas terrorist, had been killed by an Israeli airstrike was met with the usual ham-fisted BBC coverage.

To most commonsensical, free-thinking people, Hamas's rocket attacks - which have recently killed three Israeli civilians - were asking for trouble. You might say al-Jabari had it coming.

But, lo and behold, the BBC’s report this morning reduced the significance of the recent Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, prefering to lead back-to-front.

The publicly-funded broadcaster reported (09:52am):

“Eleven Palestinians – mainly militants but also children - have been killed in the ensuing Israeli operation. Since then, more than 130 rockets have been fired into Israel, police say”.

I suppose if we weren't such enlightened individuals, we may fall into the trap of believing that rocket attacks only came after Israel's strike. Not that the BBC would hope us to make such a faux pas, I'm sure...

That said, if there is anyone reading this who isn't appalled at the sight of civilian casualties, let alone children, may I suggest you re-assess your outlook on life. Each and every civilian death is a genuine tragedy of war, including the 11-month-old son of BBC cameraman Jihad Masharawi, killed yesterday.

My heartfelt condolences are with Mr. Masharawi and his family; but a difficult question needs to be asked. Can we expect impartiality -- which, let us not forget is a crucial aspect of news reporting -- when personal relationships are involved?

Just spent heart braking few hours with my BBC colleague Jihad whose 11 month old son Omar was killed by an Israel shell in #Gaza

Nobody would seek to deny Middle East Bureau Chief Paul Danahar his time to grieve in a personal capacity -- after all, he used his personal Twitter account -- but we must also ensure the BBC's impartiality, and so the question is valid. In a court of law, a judge would have stepped aside for the duration of the case to make way for someone whose personal feelings could not interfere with an objective appraisal of events.

No-one would describe this sort of practice as inappropriate. On the contrary, we would see it as a reflection of human nature.

Meanwhile, a host of usual suspects were all too quick to jump onboard the anti-Israel bandwagon, Wyre Davies (BBC Middle East correspondent) being a case in point. Probably chomping at the bit, and employing vigorous amounts of self-restraint, Davies just about managed to keep his opinion as to where the blame lies hidden (albeit thinly veiled):

In this "limited operation" at least 13 #Palestinians and 3 #Israelishave been killed - nearly all civilians. #Gaza

BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen joined in by donning his cynic cap: "Israel says it killed the Hamas military leader because he had a lot of blood on his hands - and as an answer to Palestinian rocket fire. But there will be questions about the timing of Israel's action. The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called an election in January. In the past, military strikes have been used to send messages about the toughness of Israeli leaders" -- a view that Gaza correspondant Jon Donnison echoed.

So, in sum, according to the BBC, we have a power-thirsty Israeli PM at large, presiding over a random attack on Hamas "militants" which then provoked rocket fire in response.

Only we know better.

It is obvious from the scarce number of BBC correspondents on the ground that any news coming out of the region will be unbalanced, and potentially unverified. The fact that the BBC coverage is coming from Gaza alone and not Israel is further evidence that the BBC is sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. 

But let's at least try, eh Auntie?

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