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Israel slams BBC headline on Gaza flare-up as ‘misrepresentation of reality'

Israel issued a formal complaint over a BBC headline which referenced Gazans killed in an Israeli airstrike but omitted mention of a barrage of rocket fire on Israeli communities
BBC World Twitter (Screenshot)
Offending headline subsequently amended

Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman issued a scathing complaint against BBC news on Thursday over an article headline that referenced the deaths of a pregnant Gazan and her toddler daughter in an Israeli airstrike but which omitted mention the more than 180 rockets fired by Palestinian militants in the enclave preceding the retaliatory airstrikes.

The article posted to BBC World news service Twitter feed was titled “Israeli air strikes ‘kill pregnant woman and baby’”, referencing the deaths of Enas Khammash, 23, and her 18-month-old daughter Bayan in an Israeli airstrike in Jafarawi in central Gaza overnight Thursday.

The headline gave no indication that the airstrike came in response to a barrage of some 180 rockets fired at Israeli communities, which injured at least 11 Israeli civilians including one woman who suffered “grave injuries”.

“@BBCWorld this is a formal complaint by @IsraelMFA. This title is a deliberate misrepresentation of reality ( that’s the polite equivalent of “ this is a LIE” if you don’t get it).” Emmanuel Nahshon wrote on twitter, with a screen capture of the article posted to the BBC World twitter feed.

“Israelis were targeted by Hamas and IDF acts to protect them. Change it IMMEDIATELY!!!”, Nahshon demanded.

Nahshon said he asked Israel’s embassy in London to file a written complaint against the broadcaster in response to the headline.


The original headline remained visible on BBC World’s Twitter feed, but the expanded version of the article posted on the news service’s website was titled “Gaza air strikes ‘kill woman and child’ after rockets hit Israel.”

Responding to an i24NEWS inquiry, the BBC said that "although the original headline was not factually incorrect, we updated it to add more context.”

Following the retitling, spokesperson for the Israeli embassy in the UK delivered further criticism in a letter addressed to "Angus" at the BBC. "I appreciate that BBC News has changed its online headline," Yehuda Aviv wrote, "however the headline is back-to-front."

"Hamas rockets struck Israel before Israel responded with air strikes. Therefore, I would ask for the headline to be corrected according to the order in which the events occurred," he added.

Furthermore, referencing the BBC World's Twitter account @BBCWorld, Avivi continued that the tweet "Israeli air strikes kill pregnant woman and baby" did not include any details about Hamas' terrorism at all.

"Disappointingly, none of these facts are deemed relevant for BBC World on Twitter. I would appreciate if you amend this error," he concluded in his letter.

Rocket attacks aimed at Israeli communities along the Gaza border continued into Thursday morning after a relentless overnight bombardment that carried the threat of a full-scale war erupting.

Residents in the region were instructed by the military to remain within 15-seconds of bomb shelters and to limit the size of public gatherings.

All trains between the border town of Sderot and the coastal city of Ashkelon were cancelled, as were all children's summer camps and educational activities. Farmers were also forbidden from tending to their fields.

A senior Israeli military official said Thursday that the army is “nearing war with Gaza” and would evacuate Israelis living in communities adjacent to the border if necessary.

"We don't see the end of the escalation. We are closing in on operation in Gaza," the senior IDF official told Israeli media outlets.

The IDF said 30 of the approximately 180 rockets fired into Israel were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, which is activated only against those projected to hit populated areas. Several rockets fell in the southern Israeli city of Sderot and border-adjacent Eshkol Regional Council.

Israel responded to the rocket barrage by striking more than 150 Hamas "military sites" overnight Thursday, including military compounds and weapons manufacturing sites for the Islamist movement.

Those killed in the Gaza Strip included Enas Khammash, 23, and her 18-month-old daughter Bayan, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-controlled enclave.

MAHMUD HAMS (AFP)

They were killed in an airstrike in Jafarawi in central Gaza, the ministry said, while her husband was injured. The ministry said Khammash was also pregnant.

A Hamas militant was also killed in the strikes and at least 12 others injured, the health ministry said.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the rocket barrage, saying it came in response to the IDF’s killing of two of its fighters on Tuesday. The two militants were killed after an Israeli tank fired on a Hamas observation post, responding to what it initially identified as gunfire against Israeli troops but was apparently part of a Hamas commando exercise.

“In response to Israel aggression, the Palestinian resistance has launched a large number of rockets in recent hours at the enemy,” a statement by the group said. “There was a promise [to respond] and now it has been fulfilled.”

The IDF said it was "determined to secure the safety of the citizens of Israel and is on high alert and prepared for a wide variety of scenarios."

The conflagration came as Egypt and UN-led efforts had been underway to reach a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas to bring to an end months of violence along the border and ease tensions in the impoverished Palestinian enclave.

Israel and Hamas were brought to the brink of a full-scale war in two separate military flare-ups in July as Israel struck targets in response to a wave of devastating cross-border arson attacks, prompting several barrages of Hamas rocket fire and retaliatory Israeli airstrikes that marked some of the fiercest clashes since 2014.

See also:

LIVE BLOG: Israeli woman seriously injured as over 150 rockets fired from Gaza

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