Wednesday 5 November 2014

The BBC and half the news

Trying to catch up with today's news I read the following on the Times website:

Policeman killed as Palestinian driver rams pedestrians in Jerusalem 
An Israeli police officer was killed and 13 people wounded, two of them critically, when a driver rammed groups of pedestrians in Jerusalem today.
The driver aimed his minivan at a group of police officers, then continued south and hit another group of pedestrians, before getting out of the vehicle and attacking passers-by with an iron bar. Police shot him dead.
Hamas took responsibility for the attack, the second similar assault in a fortnight. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas official, praised the “glorious operation” and called for more such attacks.
On October 23 a Palestinian rammed his car into a group of pedestrians just a few hundred metres north on the same road, killing a young woman and a baby.
The Islamic Jihad website identified today’s driver as Ibrahim Al-Akri, a 38-year-old Palestinian from Shuafat refugee camp in east Jerusalem. Al-Akri’s brother was released from prison and deported to Turkey as part of the 2011 deal to free the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit.
Police said that Al-Akri was a Hamas member who had recently served time for security offences.
Shortly after the attack, clashes broke out in both Shuafat refugee camp and Issawiya, also in east Jerusalem.
Luba Samri, a police spokeswoman, said that Al-Akri had first struck a group of policemen who were crossing the road near border police headquarters, before continuing south and hitting a group of pedestrians waiting at the Shimon HaTsadik light rail station.
After the car came to a halt, the driver, who had sustained injuries during his rampage, “got out of the vehicle and started to hit people with an iron bar”, she said.
Zaki Heller, an emergency services spokesman, said that two of the wounded were in very serious condition.

I then read the BBC's online account:

Jerusalem attack: Netanyahu blames incitement
A Palestinian driver has rammed a car into several pedestrians in Jerusalem, killing one person, hours after clashes erupted at the city's holiest site.
About a dozen people were injured and the driver was shot dead by police.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attack was "a direct result of incitement" by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
A similar car attack by a Palestinian took place in the same area two weeks ago which left a woman and a baby dead.
Meanwhile Jordan has recalled its ambassador to Israel over what it called the "unprecedented Israeli escalation" at holy and sensitive sites in Jerusalem.
Also citing continued settlement activity, Jordan is to lodge a formal complaint to the United Nations Security Council in protest, the Jordanian state news agency Petra reported.
Israeli media reports say the driver - named as Ibrahim al-Akari - was from Shuafat refugee camp in the east of the city.
His Facebook page states that he is a member of Hamas, and the Twitter account for the group's armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, described him as a member and a martyr.
Two weeks ago a Palestinian from the Abu Tor area drove his car into a tram station, killing a three-month-old baby and an Ecuadorean woman.
Analysis: BBC's Yolande Knell in Jerusalem
Security camera footage shows a white van speeding along a stretch of Route One that runs along the so-called Green Line between East and West Jerusalem.
The vehicle hits pedestrians, including Israeli police officers, before mounting the platform of the tram that runs along the same road.
Later grainy pictures appear to show the Palestinian driver running erratically across the street before he is shot and killed.
This attack - the second of its kind in two weeks - has exacerbated tensions in Jerusalem.

The difference between the two accounts is quite striking, isn't it? 

The Times is considerably more informative for starters, giving much more detail about both the attack and the attacker. 

From the Times, therefore, you get a sense of the horror of the attack. The BBC is sketchy in comparison. Its account omits any mention of the driver attacking passers-by with an iron rod, for example. 

The Times also provides a lot of helpful background on the terrorist. The BBC is much less forthcoming about that.

Noticeably, the Times foregrounds Hamas' own claims of responsibility for the attack, quoting the gloating of one of their officials. We know from the Times that this was a terrorist attack by Hamas, and that Hamas is calling for more such attacks. The BBC, in contrast, presents it more as the Israeli Prime Minister pointing the finger of accusation at the Palestinians. 

To my mind the Times article is a much better piece of reporting.

UPDATE 9.20pm: Both Sky News and ITV News have been prominently reporting a second terrorist attack in Jerusalem for quite a few minutes now. (Sky is leading with it). Another car (with Palestinian number plates) has been rammed into Israeli citizens. The BBC website has nothing on this latest development as yet. Its earlier article hasn't been updated with the news either.

The BBC News website, despite being read by colossal numbers of people and the huge resources of the licence fee-funded BBC, remains a surprisingly poor source of up-to-date, informative news articles.

FURTHER UPDATE: Jeremy Bowen's Twitter feed returned to matters Israeli today. His expressions of horror at the attacks on Israelis in Jerusalem today? No, they don't seem to have caught his attention. He tweeted about something quite different instead, something evidently much closer to his own heart:
Now, in fairness, that was early in the day. Did he see fit to tweet anything else today? Oh yes - there's this wistful little thought:
Ah, no, there's more about Israel now, but he's still not interested in Israeli victims of terror. This is what he chose to re-tweet:


  1. The unfortunate police officer was Jidan Assad, a Druse from Beit Jann. The BBC is notorious for naming the person on the favoured side of the BBC agenda, so giving him a human identity, and leaving the unfavoured anonymous.

    His funeral complete with an Israeli flag on the coffin and Druse in traditional costume would have made an excellent colour story if the BBC had been bothered.

    1. He left a pregnant wife called Dareen and a 3-year old son (Amir) too.


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