“Power plant destroyed” screamed the sub-heading in a BBC News website report on July 29th 2014.
That article was among numerous items produced by the BBC on the same day which included content relating to what the BBC immediately concluded was an Israeli strike on Gaza’s power station. BBC journalists extensively promoted that version of the story despite the fact that Israeli sources had stated that the power plant was not deliberately targeted.
Viewers of BBC television news programmes (along with visitors to the website) saw reports by Chris Morris, Ian Pannell and Martin Patience and Chris Morris. They heard statements such as the following one from Ian Pannell:
“Israel wants to weaken Hamas any way it can, which includes hitting Gaza’s only power station – adding to the misery of those who live here.”
Listeners to BBC World Service radio’s ‘Newshour‘ on July 29th heard Chris Morris make the following baseless allegation:
“And it is Gaza’s only power plant so there are electricity cuts in Gaza City, there could be problems with water supply because many of the area’s water pumps also rely on that power plant. So if that was a deliberate Israeli attempt to cause economic pain – which is certainly how most Palestinians will see it – then it could be fairly successful.” [emphasis added]
Just over two weeks later, both television viewers and visitors to the BBC News website were again reminded of the story in filmed and written reports by Yolande Knell.
“At the end of last month, there was a huge fire at the only electricity plant after it was hit by Israeli shelling.
Its fire extinguishing systems were struck and then its fuel tanks were set ablaze.
The Israeli army says it is investigating what happened but the effects are clear.
“As you see, it’s total damage. It’s scrap,” says the Gaza power plant general manager, Rafik Maliha, as he points to the huge crumpled metal vats in the fuel storage area.
“It can’t be used and without the fuel, we have no operation.” “
However, Elder of Ziyon now reports that – despite the grim picture painted by foreign media, including the BBC – the power plant is now ready to return to operations.
Remarkably – especially given the amount of coverage the BBC devoted to the topic at the time – that news has yet to be reported by the corporation.