BBC News amplifies Hamas propaganda on hospitals

On the afternoon of November 6th the BBC News website published a filmed report by Rushdi Abualouf titled ‘BBC reports from southern Gaza after ‘intense’ air strikes’. The synopsis to that report includes the following:

“Israel has confirmed it targeted an ambulance on Friday, at Gaza City’s Al Shifa Hospital, which it says was being used by Hamas operatives.

The director of the Hamas-run hospital has said this is not true, and it is open to UN inspections.”

In that report Abualouf tells viewers that:

“The strikes were not only in Gaza City where the focus of the Israeli operation [is] but also in Deir al Balah. It’s the safe area where Israel asked 1.2 million people to come in and we have about 67 people who were killed overnight in three airstrikes in Deir al Balah in the middle [of the Gaza Strip].”

Abualouf did not bother to inform BBC audiences that one of the targets of those strikes was Wael Asefa, commander of Hamas’ Deir al Balah battalion and one of those responsible for the October 7th massacre in Israel.

“Another [airstrike] killed Wael Asfeh, the commander of Hamas’s Deir al Balah battalion, along with other commanders of the so-called Central Camps Brigade, who took part in sending terrorists of Hamas’s elite Nukhba forces into Israel during the October 7 onslaught.

Asfeh had been jailed by Israel between 1992 and 1998 for his involvement in a number of attacks against Israeli communities, the IDF said.”

As ever, BBC audiences were not informed that the Hamas-run ministry of health, which provides journalists with casualty numbers, deliberately does not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Abualouf goes on to speak about the difficulties of communications:

“…but still getting information very hard from the Gaza City. Verifying some of the information is very hard. Getting witnesses from the area is very hard so we are struggling as a journalist to get any sort of credible information about the…”

Interestingly, those difficulties do not seem to extend to communications from Hamas and its mouthpieces. Abualouf continues:

“Concerning the Shifa hospital, the director of the hospital this morning he said that we are call the UN to check the hospital because he said Israel is lying about having Hamas infrastructure in the hospitals and they said our hospitals are open for the UN and for any international body who want to investigate, they are ready to open it as he…as he said. This is the Hamas-run director of the hospitals in Gaza who was speaking this morning to journalists here in Khan Younis in Nasser hospital.”

That BBC-amplified messaging from Hamas comes in response to information recently released by the IDF concerning the long-known exploitation of Shifa hospital and other medical facilities in the Gaza Strip by terrorist organisations.

In late October the IDF put information concerning Shifa hospital in the public domain at a briefing for members of the international press. Two days later the IDF released footage of captured Hamas terrorists talking about the terrorist organisation’s use of hospitals.

In early November, the IDF released additional information to members of the international media concerning two other hospitals.

The BBC News website has not published any stand-alone reporting on the topic of the information made public at those press briefings. On the afternoon of November 5th one item did appear on that day’s ‘live page’.

On November 6th Israel’s national broadcaster Kan 11 aired information concerning Shifa hospital given to its Palestinian affairs correspondent Elior Levy by a source in the Gaza Strip.

The source told Levy that the entrance to Hamas’ control room underneath Shifa is not in the hospital itself but via a tunnel, the entrance to which is located in a nearby building. The source also told Levy that Hamas’ propaganda campaign is run from that operations room located underneath the hospital by Hamas spokesman Hazem Kassem and Iyad Bozom, the spokesman for the Hamas Interior Ministry.

The source added that the senior military and political leadership of Hamas are constantly on the move from place to place avoid being targeted and that they direct the fighting while moving underground. The source also stated that the political leadership of Hamas is scattered all over the Gaza Strip, both in the north and the south.

The source told Levy that some of the Israeli hostages are being held in underground tunnels while others are being held above ground by families closely connected to Hamas.

During the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas the BBC’s Yolande Knell produced a report from Shifa hospital in which she told BBC audiences that: [emphasis added]

“We’re here at the main hospital in Gaza City. This is one of the few locations where Hamas officials feel they’re safe enough from a possible Israeli attack to come out and speak to the media.”

Nine years on, the BBC now either apparently believes that it is its job to amplify unquestioned Hamas propaganda concerning Shifa hospital and additional medical facilities or is prepared to do so in order for Hamas to continue to allow it to report from the territory. Either way, the corporation’s reputation as a provider of accurate and impartial news is severely compromised. 

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