BBC wipes Israel off the map

star-BBCA course in map reading V

The BBC has used variations of the following map (left) since the beginning of the war in Gaza: Operation Protective Edge†. Notice something missing?

I’ll give you a clue. ISRAEL!

Gaza is shown as an area with named settlements, roads, built up areas, etc. Israel is out of sight. Compare with MapQuest (right) at the same scale. Real, suffering, innocent civilian people live and die in Gaza. Israel apparently not.

The BBC has achieved what the Israel Haters only dream of. They have wiped Israel off the map.

Sderot bomb shelter

Sderot public bomb shelter

The impression given to BBC readers is that there are no Israelis anywhere near Gaza. Why is Israel so upset? Disproportionate, disproportionate, disproportionate!

Apart from Sderot (population about 24,000) and Netivot (population about 26,700) which conveniently are just at the edges of the map, which could easily be indicated by adjusting the text, every Israeli community is eliminated. Ofakim (population about 24,634) misses the cut by maybe two kilometres (works out as around 0.5 centimetres on the map). Ashkelon, 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) north of the border with the Gaza Strip (population about 112,900) doesn’t even warrant an Ashkelon that-a-way arrow but as the nearest large town (and also supplier of much of Gaza’s electricity) it has attracted dozens of attacks.

 More missing communities

Alumim, Beeri, Ein HaShlosha, Ein HaBsor, Erez, Givolim, Gvulot, Holit, Kfar Azza, Kfar Meymon, Magen, Maslul, Miflasim, Nir Am, Nir Yizhak, Or HaNer, Patish, Raim, Saad, Sdei Avraham, Shokeda, Shuva, Tal Or, Talmei  Eliyahu, Tkuma, Tushiyya, Urim, Yad Mordechai, Yesha, Yevul and Zeelim‡.

Hanlon’s razor Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

It is entirely possible that some gormless BBC graphic artist, with no knowledge of the conflict, simple traced Google Maps without thinking this through. It is less likely that the BBC editor who authorised this map did it without that knowledge. Mistakes happen but given the BBC reporting of this conflict from the beginning I lean towards malice.

This map appears in Gaza: Mapping the human cost. It follows Hamas instructions to the letter. Palestinian deaths do not differentiate fighters from noncombatants. Israel is divided into IDF and Civilians. At no point is it noted that Hamas insists there be no such differentiation when reporting Gazan casualties.

As if to rub the point in the BBC continues More than 1,800 Palestinians* have been killed and an estimated 485,000 have fled their homes since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in Gaza on 8 July. They follow that up with The Palestinian fatalities, most of them civilian, have been spread across the densely-populated Gaza Strip, all parts of which are affected by the conflict.

The BBC cites these claims as fact with no qualification. They don’t (and indeed shouldn’t) have to accept anything that is sourced by Israel but if they had any journalistic integrity they would acknowledge that some analysts strongly dispute both the total figure and the percentage of civilians.

Thanks to Elder of Ziyon for pointing this out. The difference in count of over 270 is fairly significant. There is evidence of double counting; likely reporting all deaths, even from natural causes as resulting from the conflict; adding alleged ‘collaborators’ executed without trial to the count and no attempt to factor out deaths from Hamas rockets falling short, ‘work accidents’ and explosions.

According to UNICEF 90% of casualties in wars since the 1990s have been civilians. If the Meir Amit figures, made by comparing names and ages of casualties with known members of terrorist groups, prove correct some 47% of the known casualties are combatants.

This adds further confirmation to the IDF’s boast that they do more than any army in the world to reduce collateral damage and also shows that Hamas and allies are taking a pasting from the IDF.

Densely populated? Urban with large empty areas. See Population Games. Choose to fight a war in any urban setting and civilian casualties will be high and there will be nowhere to go. Hamas took that into account when they planned this war and hoped that Israel either wouldn’t attack or the world would be so appalled by dead babies they would pull Israel off before they did too much damage. No such luck.

Jon Donnison tweets

He apologised for thsi so it’s all right.

Leaving on a graphical note. The BBC’s Jon Donnison, winner of Honest Reporting’s 2012 Biggest Twit (UK) award, is apparently a photographer as well. A collection of his work appears in Faces from Gaza.

Somehow he managed not to find even one Hamas fighter, dead, injured, at work, owning a bombed home or boasting how he will open up the gates of hell to Israel. How strange?

In the 1930s Berthold Brecht said, What if they gave a war and nobody came? in a poem which actually has the opposite meaning than most take from the first line. The BBC has proved him half right. If you throw a war and one side is never reported as fighting and the other is not reported as suffering has it really been fought at all?

Extra credit

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center


† Israel for reasons that apparently are financial, compensation and insurance based prefers to call this an operation – not a war. I feel that if this is not a war, what is? If someone has a good reason why Five Minutes for Israel should not call this a war, let me know through contact.
‡ Apologies if I have left anyone out. English spelling may vary.
* Map figures add up to exactly 1,800.

“Sderot Shelter” by Jewbask – Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sderot_Shelter.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Sderot_Shelter.JPG

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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