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Sunday, January 23, 2011

BBC's "whitewash"

Here is the entire BBC report on the results of the Turkel Commission:


An Israeli inquiry has found the country's army acted legally in a deadly raid on a flotilla of aid ships trying to reach Gaza last May.
The raid, in which nine Turkish activists were killed, attracted widespread international condemnation.
A separate UN inquiry last year said the navy had shown an "unacceptable level of brutality".
But Israel's inquiry found the actions of its navy "to be legal pursuant to the rules of international law".
There was widespread international criticism of Israel's actions, which severely strained relations with its long-time Muslim ally, Turkey.
The inquiry also found that Israel's naval blockade of Gaza was legal.
Whitewash
The Free Gaza Flotilla, which had over 600 pro-Palestinian activists on board, was trying to break Israel's blockade of the territory when it was intercepted by Israeli navy commandos on 31 May.
Israel says its commandos used live fire only after being attacked with clubs, knives and gunfire by activists.
But activists on board the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara, where all the killings took place, say the commandos started shooting as soon as they boarded the vessel.
In June, Israel set up a panel of inquiry headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Yaakov Turkel, with five Israeli members and two international observers.
It had a mandate to look into the legality of the raid, but critics attacked this remit as too narrow.
One of the inquiry's members died aged 93 during its hearings.
Correspondents say that for Israel's critics, the internal investigation had little credibility and has been written off as a whitewash.
'Four shots in head'
The inquiry heard testimony from high-ranking Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and army chief General Gabi Ashkenazi.
None of the soldiers involved in the raid was authorised to provide testimony.
In August, Mr Netanyahu told the inquiry that Israel "acted under international law" when it intercepted the flotilla.
He said the Gaza blockade was legal and that Israeli troops only used force when their lives were in danger.
Turkey has described the attack - which took place in international waters, about 80 miles from the Israeli coast - as a violation of international law, "tantamount to banditry and piracy" and described the killings as "state-sponsored terrorism".
Results of Turkish post-mortem examinations have suggested that a total of 30 bullets were found in the bodies of the nine dead activists, including one who had been shot four times in the head.
After criticism from its allies over the flotilla incident, Israel considerably eased its blockade of Gaza - allowing in more food and humanitarian goods.
Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade on the coastal territory when the Islamist militant group, Hamas, seized control of it in 2007.
Israel says it is intended to stop militants in Gaza from obtaining rockets to fire at Israel.
The restrictions have been widely described as collective punishment of the population of Gaza, resulting in a humanitarian crisis.
I italicized the biased part of the report. But that's not the worst part, by far.

Part One of the Turkel Commission report is online, and it is 295 pages long. One only needs to read it for a couple of minutes to see that it is far from a whitewash and it takes its mandate seriously. It goes into great detail on the events of May 31, 2010 as well as background information on the history and legality of the blockade, whether Israel is legally occupying Gaza, what happened on the Mavi Marmara as well as the other ships, and much more. It specifically addresses the critics of the naval action in great detail.

But the BBC dismisses the entire report with one word :"Whitewash." And the only other subhead it uses in this report is the (unconfirmed) charge of "four shots in the head."

Astonishingly, the BBC does not mention the name "IHH" once in its report. It also does not mention that there is a second UN inquiry underway, only referring to the hopelessly biased and ridiculously fast UNHRC inquiry.

Nothing is quoted from the Turkel report.

Even worse, although the BBC itself documented that Israel's claims were essentially all true and the activists were caught lying, this report ignores the facts uncovered by this same news organization to give credence to unnamed "critics" of Israel and giving them more space and attention than the actual subject of the report.

To BBC readers, this is par for the course. But it is unconscionable for an organization as supposedly prestigious as the BBC to write such a tilted, uninformed report that summarily dismisses the serious work of many people over many months. The BBC in this article gives more space to the the unnamed Israel-bashing "critics"  than to the supposed subject of the article!

(h/t T34)

UPDATE: The BBC has changed the story a bit, and changed the subheads as well. However, they added a new, very similar article on the Turkish reaction. (h/t Biased BBC)