USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

BBC Refuses to Air Palestine Fund-Raising Ad; BBC Editor Reporting from Gaza

Posted by uscsjp on January 23, 2009

Palestinians have begun rebuilding tunnels destroyed by Israel (BBC)

Palestinians have begun rebuilding tunnels destroyed by Israel (BBC)

Bowen diary: Rafah rebuilds

“BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen is writing a diary of the conflict between Hamas and Israel.


No diary yesterday because I was finally getting into Gaza.

The word came from Cairo that the border was open, and amid the usual scenes of journalists trampling over their colleagues to get through the last few bureaucratic hoops – sometimes this trade is not very collegiate – we were in Gaza.

I am writing this on a rooftop in Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, looking down on the strip of land that runs along the frontier with Egypt.

This is the place where the tunnels into Egypt start, and it is full of activity.

Israel says that Hamas uses the tunnels to smuggle in arms.

One of its main war aims was to close them, to stop Hamas re-equipping its fighters.

The Israelis bombed the border land I can see from this roof very heavily.


The man who owns this roof – he has just brought up a tray of Turkish coffees, already sweetened with a taste of cardamom – says he moved his family out, but then came back, because he decided that nowhere was safe and that if he was going to die then it would be in his own home.

He showed me the stairwell he lay in during the worst of it, when the house was shaking and he thought the next bomb might come in through the ceiling.

The Hamas interior ministry in Gaza says 30% of the tunnels were destroyed.

I have no way of telling if that is true or false, but I can see from here with my own eyes that the dozens of tunnels are either operating or being refurbished.

Men are hurrying around purposefully with spades and shovels.

I can see a heavy bulldozer, horses and carts, and compressors that are roaring, pumping air down deep underground where Rafah’s tunnellers are working.

I have spent the last couple of hours with one group of tunnellers.

They were led by a man called Abdullah. Like all the other diggers in his group, he was young and wiry.

Their plot was covered, as all the tunnels are in Rafah, by a big plastic tent.

It was new. Bombs shredded the old one.

Abdullah picked up a long piece of shrapnel. He held it like a gun, and then like a guitar.

The edges of the shrapnel were jagged, each ridge sharp as the blade of a knife. Abdullah laughed, slightly hysterically.

He was lowered down into the shaft of the tunnel on a winch.

Down below teenage boys were filling plastic buckets with sand.

Before he disappeared into the ground Abdullah said the tunnel was damaged, but it could be fixed.

Back in Gaza City

A reason why the Israelis resisted calls for a ceasefire – and why the US abstained on the ceasefire vote at the UN – was that they were waiting for a reliable mechanism to stop the tunnel trade.

How exactly it would be done is still being discussed.

I have seen a clip of Israeli spokesman Mark Regev saying they were not surprised that Hamas would, as he put it, undermine the ceasefire.

The difference now, for Israel, was that there was international agreement to stop Iran shipping weapons to Hamas.

The exact relationship between Iran and Hamas is debated by experts on Tehran’s foreign relations.

I have seen no definitive Israeli proof that an arms pipeline runs from Iran to Gaza.

That does not mean there is not one. Hamas denies it exists…”

–BBC News, 22 January, 2009

BBC defends Gaza appeal decision

The BBC has defended a decision not to air a TV fund-raising appeal for Gaza, saying it wanted to avoid compromising public confidence in its impartiality.

“It said a decision was taken with other broadcasters not to show the Disasters Emergency Committee crisis appeal on any network in the UK.

A corporation statement added there were also doubts about ‘the delivery of aid in a volatile situation’.

DEC said there was ‘clear evidence’ the British public wanted to help.

In a statement, the BBC said: ‘The BBC decision was made because of question marks about the delivery of aid in a volatile situation and also to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in the context of an ongoing news story.

‘However, the BBC will, of course, continue to report the humanitarian story in Gaza.’

A spokesman for ITV told the Times website: ‘The DEC did ask broadcasters if they could support the appeal.

‘We assessed the DEC’s request carefully against agreed criteria and were unable to reach the consensus which is necessary for an appeal.’

DEC is an umbrella organisation representing a number of aid agencies.

Spokeswoman Shaista Aziz said it was confident in the abilities of DEC members and other parts of the organisation to respond and there was an ‘overwhelming humanitarian need’.

She added: ‘We regret the fact that the message we wanted to get across will not reach as many people as hoped.’

Action Aid, the British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International UK, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Save the Children and Tearfund are among the agencies affiliated to DEC.

Launching the appeal, DEC chief executive Brendan Gormley said: ‘DEC agencies have a humanitarian mandate. We are not proposing to attempt to rebuild Gaza… with the public’s support we can help relieve short-term needs.’

The British government has pledged to give £30m in humanitarian aid to crisis-torn Gaza.

At least 1,300 Palestinians were killed, nearly a third of them children, and 5,500 injured in the Israeli operation, which began on 27 December, Palestinian medical sources in Gaza say.

Israel says that it acted to stop Hamas militants targeting Israeli towns with rocket fire.

Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, have been killed, the Israeli army says.”

–BBC News, 22 January, 2009


One Response to “BBC Refuses to Air Palestine Fund-Raising Ad; BBC Editor Reporting from Gaza”

  1. Stela Yordanova said

    Find out more about British Red Cross work in Gaza at or to donate to our appeal go to

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