Guardian’s David Batty ignores reports that no humanitarian aid was on board Gaza-bound ship

In her latest BBC Watch report, Hadar Sela commented on an Oct. 21 BBC report about the the latest attempt by anti-Israel activists to break Israel’s legal naval blockade of Gaza.

The ship, organized by the Swedish group ‘Ship to Gaza’, called the ‘Estelle‘, which left from Italy on October 7, was boarded near Gaza by the Israeli Navy yesterday, Oct. 20, and led to the port of Ashdod, after passengers refused radio calls by the IDF to change course.

The BBC’s report included the following passage:

“The Estelle, which activists say is carrying cement, basketballs, musical instruments, and 30 doves, is the latest vessel to try and break the Gaza blockade.” [emphasis added]

As Sela pointed out, however, the BBC piece didn’t mention reports that IDF personnel who inspected the Finnish-flagged ship said that there were, in fact, no humanitarian supplies on board.  This information, which contradicted the activists’ claims, was reported in the media on Oct. 20, hours after the ship was boarded.

Sure enough, the Guardian’s report on Israel’s interception of the Estelle similarly misled readers about the supplies on board.

David Batty’s Guardian report, titled Gaza-bound ship Estelle intercepted by Israeli forces, Oct. 21, included following passage:

“The Estelle is carrying 30 activists from Europe, Canada and Israel, humanitarian cargo such as cement, and goodwill items such as children’s books.” [emphasis added]

Interestingly, the Guardian contributor not only included information on the alleged “humanitarian cargo”, but didn’t even qualify the passage so that readers would understand that reports of such aid were merely based on the  claims of activists.  Batty reported the presence of humanitarian aid on the ship as if it was undisputed, despite the fact that, presumably, there was no independent source to verify such claims at the time he filed his report.

While the BBC and the Guardian both failed to provide readers with broader context about the Estelle – such as the fact that there is actually no “humanitarian crisis” in the Hamas-run territory to begin with – basic journalistic standards at least require that information which is reported be balanced, based on evidence, and include the source of their information.

UPDATE: We recently came across the following Tweet by IDF Spokesperson Avital Liebovitch regarding the contents on board the Estelle.

We’ll update this story as more information becomes available.


11 replies »

  1. There is nothing surprising about Batty reporting about the humanitarian aid and not checking other sources to verify the claims made. I’m fairly confident that Guardian reporters routinely discount or completely avoid mention of anything emanating from the IDF or other Israeli governmental sources. There is a mindset that places the Israeli sources completely out of bounds. These “reporters” would just as soon report news sources from Al-Qaeda spokesmen or North Koreans as they would Israelis.

  2. The flotilla people are really pathetic:

    Just read this claim and think about it for a minute – can there be better proof of their obsession than this bizarre collection of junk that they claim is needed in Gaza?:

    ““The Estelle, which activists say is carrying cement, basketballs, musical instruments, and 30 doves, is the latest vessel to try and break the Gaza blockade.””

    Yes, that is what the cruel Israelis are preventing from reaching Gaza, and is now defined as “humanitarian aid” – basket balls, musical instruments, and doves. No doubt they cannot fit through the tunnels which are jammed with Mercedes Benz sedans, washing machines, large screen TVs., and boxes filled with iPhone 5’s.

    The cement, of course, is needed because there is a shortage after building so many malls and hotels.

  3. Meanwhile back in the real world that Al-Guardian clearly doesnt inhabit IE in the arab-islamic world how many people are being killed, injured and in the case of non muslims being forced out or forced to convert to the cult of islam on a daily basis things that for some unknown reason fail to appear on Al-Guardian’s radar ???

  4. Basketballs?

    One really shouldn’t laugh, but these clowns are hilarious. I hear the next ship will be carrying helium balloons and second-hand lava-lamps.