Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Comparing the BBC’s coverage of two tragic stories from Gaza

Seventeen months ago the BBC gave extensive coverage to the story of a child killed in the Gaza Strip during the conflict between Hamas and Israel in November 2012. The corporation’s journalists rushed to promote an unquestioned and unverified version of the story of the death of Omar Masharawi – the son of a BBC employee – according to which he had been killed in an Israeli airstrike.

Months later, in March 2013, that already shaky story was shown to be even less rooted in accurate and impartial reporting when a UN report stated that the incident was most likely caused by a misfired rocket launched by one of the Palestinian terror organisations operating in the Gaza Strip.

The BBC’s subsequent addition of a footnote to a report which had at the time appeared on its website for four straight months did little to correct the damage caused by the irresponsible and cavalier promotion of an inaccurate story which its journalists had not adequately verified, but which fit in with their own preconceived narrative.

Last week a two year-old child named Mohammed al Hamadin died as a result of injuries he had sustained in an explosion on March 11th at his family home in Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip. Mohammed was among some six people injured and three killed in that explosion. The three dead weredescribed by Palestinian sources as being “affiliated” with Hamas and indeed the al Qassam Brigades published notification of the death of one of the men whilst two of the others appear to have also hadSalafi Jihadi connections.

 According to AP“A security official said the three dead were Hamas militants, and that the blast had been caused while mishandling explosives.”

Palpress reports that:
“According to media reports that the explosion, which occurred last week in the home led to the deaths of three young men who were working on the processing of homemade rockets.”
The fact that no mention of this latest incident of a child being killed in the Gaza Strip because of the actions of Palestinian terror organisations has appeared in any BBC News report will not come as much of a surprise to readers because the BBC habitually turns a blind eye to the many cases of Palestinian casualties caused by short-falling missiles and other terrorist activity of the type which resulted in the death of little Mohammed al Hamadin.

That state of affairs raises uncomfortable questions about which factors in a story relating to Palestinian casualties make it newsworthy – or not – as far as the BBC is concerned and why an incident in which a child was killed that does not further a preconceived political narrative is not told to BBC audiences. 

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