After having to put up with article after article on the BBC website referring to the dubious claims that the Iranian President threatened to wipe Israel 'off the map' (1), we now have the case that the Israeli interior minister, Meir Sheetrit, has said that the IDF should "wipe out a neighborhood" of Gaza, in effect committing a war crime for inciting collective punishment.
However, if we were to get our news solely from the BBC we would probably not know anything beyond "The Israeli interior minister, Meir Sheetrit, said the army should choose a neighbourhood of Gaza, give its residents a day to leave, and then destroy it.". (2)
However, the chances are slim as this is literally hidden away in the last paragraph of the article - a favourite ploy used by western news corporations to hide embarrasing news.
Here are his full remarks:
"The heads of Hamas must pay the price. Hamas doesn't understand any other language; the problem is we are talking to them in English instead of in Arabic. They only understand [the language of force]. The situation at present doesn't make sense; every other country faced with rockets on its citizens would go in and destroy the area. We should warn the [Arabs in Gaza] in advance, give them a day's notice, and then wipe out a neighborhood. We should also hit their leaders, regardless of who or what they are."(3)
As you can see, this Israeli politician and Cabinet Minister is calling for whole areas of Gaza to be "wiped out". This fits the definition of terrorism: "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against people or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives. (JCS Pub 1-02)" (4) Indeed, the Terrorism Act 2000 defines terrorism in the first section of the Act, as follows (5):
Section 1. -
(1) In this Act "terrorism" means the use or threat of action where-
(a) the action falls within subsection (2),
(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government [or an international governmental organisation] or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
(c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political,
religious or ideological cause.
(2) Action falls within this subsection if it-
(a) involves serious violence against a person,
(b) involves serious damage to property,
(c) endangers a person's life, other than that of the person committing the action,
(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.
(3) The use or threat of action falling within subsection (2) which involves the use of firearms or explosives is terrorism whether or not subsection (1)(b) is satisfied.
If the Iranian foreign minister had suggested part of Tel Aviv should be "wiped out", it most certainly would not be slipped into the last paragraph of a story titled "Ahmedinejad urges calm". Instead a whole story would be generated around his statement.
Surely, in balanced news reporting, the same weight needs to be given to similar 'threats' from both sides? This case case shows that the same weight is not being provided in BBC coverage. If an official 'enemy' makes an aggressive statement, the hype is there for all to see, but if an official 'friend' makes a similar statement its buried at the bottom of an unrelated article or not reported at all - there is not one word about this in any of the British 'quality' dailies, Guardian, Times, Telegraph or Independent.
(1) BBC search results for Iran "wiped off the map"
(2) Olmert urges calm after strikes BBC Online Last Updated: Sunday, 10 February 2008, 11:49 GMT
(3) Sderot Mayor & Minister Sheetrit: Wipe Out Gaza Neighborhoods Arutz Sheva Israel National News Published: 02/10/08, 11:30 AM
Sheetrit: 'IDF should wipe out parts of Gaza' Jerusalem Post Feb 11, 2008 0:05 Updated Feb 12, 2008 5:07
IDF to step up Gaza assassinations Haaretz Tue., February 12, 2008
Sheetrit: We should level Gaza neighborhoods YnetNews.com Published: 02.10.08, 13:38
(4) Glossary GlobalSecurity.org
(5) Terrorism Act 2000