Sky Is Failing: British Broadcaster’s Unbalanced Coverage Demonizes Israel

Sky Is Failing: British Broadcaster’s Unbalanced Coverage Demonizes Israel

Rachel O’Donoghue

Rockets are launched by Palestinian militants into Israel, amid Israel-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza, August 7, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

During the escalation between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), which saw the latter fire more than 1,000 rockets at Israeli towns and cities — as Israel attempted to kill senior PIJ commanders who are responsible for masterminding terrorist atrocities — Sky News ran several pieces that attempted to delve deep into the heart of the conflict.

On August 7, the British broadcaster ran a two-minute-long report that detailed how Israel was continuing to strike PIJ targets in the Gaza Strip. According to narrating journalist Alistair Bunkall, the “Israel military says it is targeting watch towers, rocket launch sites and weapons factories. Some Gazans, though, claim that civilian houses have also been hit.”

Yet viewers were provided with no visual cues, such as a clip of the many rockets that rained down on Israel over 72 hours. Rather, the footage shows piles of rubble as civilians pick through the wreckage.

As such, Sky News seemingly chose to perpetuate a certain narrative instead of sticking to the facts.

The piece segues into an interview with an unnamed man who speaks of his surprise when “they” asked us to evacuate houses near the home of a Gaza municipality worker, whom the man describes as “an ordinary employee who provides for young children.”

The suggestion here is that Israel was trying to blow up an honest worker whose only crime was being generous to kids. Sky News does not bother to investigate, much less report on, the actual target of such strikes: terrorist infrastructure embedded into civilian structures in the vicinity.

Furthermore, Sky News did not deem it necessary to elaborate on the identity of the “they” who gave the evacuation order. Had the channel done so, viewers would have been told it was Israel who had warned civilians of impending strikes.

Nor was any explanation offered with regards to why such warnings are necessary — which is PIJ’s well-documented habit of storing its weapons and hiding its launch sites within densely-populated residential areas.

The report later details how Egyptian mediators were due to arrive and attempt to broker a ceasefire, with Sky News observing that “Israel’s military operation does not appear to be over yet.” This commentary runs over footage of injured Gazans being treated in overflowing accident and emergency units. 

This juxtaposition is no accident — such commentary serves to paint Israel as an aggressor that is needlessly maiming and killing innocent civilians.

Why not instead air clips of PIJ fighters arming rockets to be shot at Israel? Or terrorists roaming a subterranean tunnel network whose existence made Operation Breaking Dawn a necessity in the first place?

Less than 24 hours later, Sky News aired another report, on August 8, that referenced the bombing of the Jabaliya camp in Gaza, specifically residents’ claims that “seven children have been killed in one explosion.”

The piece cuts to an emotionally-charged scene of grieving civilians at a medical facility, including an interview with one woman who suggests a “massacre” has been perpetrated. While video evidence that the deaths were actually caused by a malfunctioning PIJ rocket is included, this is presented as a matter of contention; or a “claim” by the IDF.

Of course, Sky News could have done a modicum of journalistic due diligence — like the kind that the Associated Press did — and checked whether there were any Israeli strikes in the vicinity at the time, which would have confirmed that it is not merely an Israeli claim, but the sad truth.

On August 10, Sky ran three pieces about the escalation — a video with a corresponding article, and another written piece that attempts to summarize the events of the previous weekend.

The first two purport to lay bare the “human cost of Gaza airstrikes,” as they focus on the personal injuries suffered and property damage sustained by a family in the Strip during Israel’s operation to kill PIJ commander Tayseer al-Jabri.

The footage is undoubtedly sad, as is any story of civilians getting caught in the crossfire. However, Sky News fails to offer the reader any information about why taking out al-Jabari was so crucial: he was responsible for planning deadly attacks against Israelis.

Moreover, human interest pieces like this one are perfectly valid as long as they are kept within a proper context. Such reports should not be at the expense of the “hard news” of the day, which in this case was the fact that Gaza’s terrorist ruler Hamas had issued an order to crack down on how foreign journalists covered news emanating from the Strip.

The restrictions, which were rescinded days later, warned journalists they must not report on the Gazans who had been killed by misfired rockets. Hamas had also ordered the foreign press to blame Israel for the escalation.

Apparently, Sky News did not deem it newsworthy to inform viewers about this attempt by a totalitarian regime to stifle its free expression with such draconian measures.

Instead, the broadcaster published a piece, Islamic Jihad Movement blames Israel for recent bout violence as Gaza takes first steps back toward normality,” which consists of an interview with the PIJ’s head of “International relations,” Khalid al-Batsh.

The report gives al-Batsh the opportunity to spew a litany of lies in response to Sky’s questions, including his specious assertion that no PIJ rockets malfunctioned but rather that Israel had spilled the “blood of innocents and accuse[d] others.”

Yet, the most troubling element of the piece is al-Batsh’ seemingly unchallenged claim that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who he describes as one who “loves and supports peace,” is being denied the actualization of an independent Palestinian state.

Sky News might have balanced this misstatement with the details of the many rebuffed peace deals that would have seen a two-state solution realized, as well as information that proves Abbas is anything but peace-loving, such as the PA’s “pay-for-slay” policy that incentivizes the slaughter of Israelis by terrorists.

The latest conflict is unlikely to be the last between Gaza’s terrorist factions and the target of their aggression — the very existence of the Jewish state. We can only hope Sky News will improve its output when the next inevitable escalation arises.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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