In 12 November 2015, Israeli agents disguised as Arabs escorting a woman in labor, raided a hospital in Hebron, West Bank, seized a Palestinian suspected of stabbing and shot dead his cousin. The dead cousin was apparently unarmed but tried to obstruct the arrest.

This website (presumably pro-Palestinian) claimed that BBC 'softened' the title of the article covering this event, from 'Israelis shoot dead Palestinian in Hebron hospital raid' to 'Israelis in disguise raid Hebron hospital, seizing suspect'. The new title hides the fact that someone was shot dead (the content still mention this fact though).

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I can see that the current article has the headline on the right, but I don't know how to verify that it was initially the headline on the left. Someone could have just photoshopped the screenshot. Is there any way to verify whether this change did take place?

  • 2
    "Soften" implies intent, in particular intent to manipulate the audience. We don't know that this is the case.
    – Sklivvz
    Nov 20, 2015 at 11:30
  • 3
    In the current era of internet and twitter feeds as news sources this is actually quite common. News outlets will push out a story as rapidly as possible and then subsequently flesh it out or correct it as more facts come to light. So yes, the BBC probably did change the story, but no, not to try to white-wash anything, but simply changing it to be correct as more facts came to light.
    – GordonM
    Nov 20, 2015 at 14:43

1 Answer 1


The BBC Middle East Twitter feed has a tweet

Israelis shoot dead man in hospital: Undercover Israeli forces in disguises shoot dead a Palestinian and seize... http://bbc.in/20OZYdB

with links to the article in question.

The Twitter account description says

Disclaimer: This is NOT an official BBC ME account. But it is based on their RSS feed.

The tweet doesn't exactly match the original, but would be consistent with the suspicion of stealth editing - an internet slang term describing a change being made to the article without any record of the change being preserved. (The original blog post notes that it's common for the BBC to change content without recording that a change has been made - it isn't specific to this particular case)

BBC Watch, a pro-Israel group, reports:

An article which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on November 12th had its original title amended from “Israelis in disguise snatch Palestinian in hospital raid” to “Israelis shoot dead Palestinian in Hebron hospital raid” before it was finally headlined “Israelis in disguise raid Hebron hospital, seizing suspect“.

In that paragraph, it cites News Sniffer, an automated website for detecting stealth editing from specific news organisations.

  • 4
    "Stealth" implies intent to hide, we don't know that. Even newssniffer doesn't use that term.
    – Sklivvz
    Nov 20, 2015 at 11:30
  • 2
    @Sklivvz en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stealth_edit
    – Golden Cuy
    Nov 20, 2015 at 11:31
  • 5
    @AndrewGrimm "The term has a negative connotation", etc -- it implies that the BBC did this to cover up what was previously said. They might be simply correcting an article as more information comes in.
    – Sklivvz
    Nov 20, 2015 at 11:35
  • 4
    The term itself is loaded, using it implies a motive that may not exist. Besides, from a pragmatic standpoint we don't know if the BBC's software preserves a record of any changes made to articles published on its site
    – GordonM
    Nov 20, 2015 at 16:00
  • 2
    Clicking "Next version" in your News Sniffer link actually show the exact two titles in the screenshot. Could you incorporate this to your answer? Given this I think it is a definite "yes" to the original question.
    – Fitri
    Nov 22, 2015 at 1:39

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