BBC waives chance to balance its reporting on medical issues

A story about an Israeli charity treating tens of Palestinian children weekly did not get any BBC coverage.

In January of this year BBC audiences were told by a senior Hamas official from Gaza that Israel’s counter-terrorism measures (which he inaccurately described as a ‘siege’ without any comment from his interviewer) had “destroyed our medical, our social, our economic life”. In July 2017 the BBC’s Yolande Knell told BBC audiences that:

“…it’s becoming more difficult to get Israeli permits to transfer seriously ill patients out of Gaza, partly because the PA is giving fewer guarantees it will cover their medical costs elsewhere. The doctor tells me how, days ago, he broke this news to the parents of a newborn with a congenital heart condition who went on to die.”

In October 2017 BBC audiences were told that:

“Israel and Egypt have maintained a land and sea blockade on Gaza for a decade in an attempt to prevent attacks by militants based there.

The restrictions, repeated cycles of armed conflict, Palestinian political divisions and budget cuts have led to a serious deterioration in the availability and quality of health services in the territory, according to the UN.

Severe power shortages earlier this year forced hospitals to postpone elective surgeries, discharge patients prematurely, and reduce cleaning of medical facilities.”

As was noted here at the time:

“…the restrictions placed on the import of dual-use goods (i.e. items which can be used for terrorist purposes) to the Gaza Strip do not apply to medical supplies. The party responsible for medical services in the Gaza Strip is the Palestinian Authority and it is that body which has in recent months exacerbated the chronic crisis affecting  the healthcare system in Gaza by severely cutting medical aid and referrals for treatment in Israel. Likewise, it is the Palestinian Authority which is solely responsible for those “severe power shortages” in the Gaza Strip that have affected medical services as well as additional fields.”

So when the opportunity arose to introduce some balance into its reporting on the topic of medical issues, one might have thought that the BBC would have taken it up.

Last week media outlets including the Washington Post and the Independent published a story that was widely covered in the Israeli media.

“An Israeli organization that provides life-saving heart treatment to children in developing countries has won a prestigious United Nations award for outstanding contributions to the world’s population. […]

Save a Child’s Heart was selected to receive the 2018 UN Population Award, the medical charity said in a press statement Monday. […]

SACH was founded in 1995 at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel. It has saved the lives of more than 4,700 children in 57 countries.

In addition to its efforts around the world, SACH holds weekly clinics for Palestinian children, bringing some 20-30 children to the Wolfson center each week. Children from the Gaza Strip are accompanied by doctors from the Palestinian enclave, who are given the opportunity to work alongside their Israeli peers, the statement said.”

The award was presented to the charity at the United Nations Population Fund ceremony last week.

Despite the fact that the BBC regularly promotes inaccurate information concerning the background to the condition of medical services in the Gaza Strip, a story about an Israeli charity treating tens of Palestinian children weekly did not get any coverage on either the BBC News website’s ‘United Nations’ page or elsewhere.

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No BBC follow-up on story used to mislead on Gaza medical services




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