PSC analyses BBC Radio 4 ‘Live from Gaza: Business behind the blockade’

BBC News reaches 81% of the UK every week via tv, radio and online articles. That is a huge number of people to be misinforming about the nature of Israel’s occupation.

PSC’s ‘Deconstructing the BBC’ series analyses BBC online articles and broadcasts to reveal in depth just how the UK’s supposedly impartial public broadcaster is hiding the truth of the occupation.

Here we analyse the introduction to a BBC Radio 4 programme – ‘Live from Gaza: Business behind the Blockade’ – which was broadcast on 18th May 2015. The presenter, Roger Hearing, begins by describing the geography of Gaza before, in the section that we analyse, attempting to give an overview of the politics

Date of broadcast: 18th May 2015

BBC Radio 4 Live from Gaza: Business behind the blockade

Transcript (Roger Hearing):

‘The vast majority of these people can never leave. Why is that? The answer lies in the controversial and complicated politics of Gaza[…] Israel finally pulled out of Gaza in 2005, leaving it to the control of the Palestinian Authority.’

Analysis:

Israel did not pull out of Gaza in 2005. This is a factually inaccurate statement. Israel remains theoccupying power in Gaza and is recognised as such by the UN and international governments including the UK government. As the occupying power, it is bound by the laws of occupation – under the Hague Convention and Fourth Geneva Convention – which impose responsibility on the occupying state for the safety and welfare of civilians living in the occupied territory.

Transcript:

‘The Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas – regarded by Israel, the EU and the US as a terrorist organisation – took over in 2007 and they’ve run Gaza ever since.’

Analysis:

Hamas is a political party, not an ‘Islamist movement’. Hamas didn’t take over Gaza, but was elected to govern. In January 2006, it won 58% of the seats in an election which international observers said was free and fair, and which the head of the EU’s observer team described as ‘a model for the wider Arab region’. Hamas then called for, and in March 2007, formed a unity government with Fatah. However, urged on the US and Israel – whose divide and rule politics are threatened by Palestinian unity – Fatah tried to take full control leading to armed struggle on the streets of Gaza in June 2007. The fighting lasted for five days and ended with a Hamas win, and the ousting of Fatah politicians from Gaza to the West Bank.

Transcript:

‘And since Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel, Israel closed down the borders.’

Analysis:

Hamas is not ‘committed to the destruction of Israel’. It has consistently offered to recognise Israel within the 1967 borders if Israel recognises a Palestinian state (which Netanyahu declared in March 2015 would not happen while he was PM). Hamas has previously offered a ten-year truce while borders are negotiated. All offers of a truce have been turned down by Israel. Hearing’s outdated claim is probably based on the 30 year old Hamas Charter, which was watered down in 2006 to say Hamas does not want the destruction of Israel.

Transcript:

‘[…]And now the most controversial part of all this. Hamas fighters fired rockets into Israel and staged raids across the border in what Palestinians say is a response to the terrible conditions they’re in as a result of the blockade.’

Analysis:

In a proper historical context, it can never be said that Hamas fired its rockets first. Palestinian resistance is a response to ongoing land theft which was initiated during the 1948 Nakba, and to decades of occupation, now combined with siege, which deny Palestinians their freedom and right to self-determination. The resistance is not just about ‘the terrible conditions they’re in as a result of the blockade’. And ‘terrible conditions’ is a massive understatement to describe the current situation in Gaza.

Transcript:

‘Israel has launched drone strikes and bombings and conducted full scale military offensives into Gaza, as well as tightening the partial blockade, they say in response to the Hamas rockets[…]’

Analysis:

Israel did not close down the borders with Gaza ‘in response to the Hamas rockets’, but as part of its policy of occupation. In 2012, the Israeli human rights group, Gisha, obtained documents from the Israeli government which show that the siege is intended as collective punishment for the Palestinian people – to ‘put the Palestinians on a diet’ as one government advisor said – and is not about security.

Transcript:

‘In this programme, we’re going to try and park the politics and look at how an economy under these conditions functions at all.’

Analysis:

How can a programme about the economy of a territory under siege for political reasons just ‘park the politics’? It’s not just Gaza that is under occupation. The Palestinian people are under occupation, or in exile, with millions living as refugees. A programme like this cannot make sense unless that basic fact is explained to its audience.