Just after midnight UK time (2 a.m. Israel time) on November 15th the IDF posted a tweet concerning operations at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City:
The BBC News channel reported that development as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]
Presenter: “At this moment we’re hearing from Reuters that it’s reporting that Israel, it says, its forces are carrying out an operation against Hamas in Gaza’s al Shifa hospital and they are targeting people including medical teams as well as Arab speakers. They are also saying that Israel is calling on all Hamas operatives in the hospital to surrender at this point.
Once again, we are hearing from Reuters that Israel has said its forces are carrying out an operation against Hamas in that hospital we had just heard of there, targeting its Arab speakers as well as some of the medical staff there and they are asking all Hamas operatives in that hospital to surrender.”
Reuters reporting on that story had claimed nothing of the sort but had included the following:
“GAZA, Nov 15 (Reuters) – The Israeli military said it was carrying out a raid on Wednesday against Hamas militants in Al Shifa Hospital, having urged them to surrender with thousands of Palestinian civilians still sheltering inside Gaza Strip’s biggest hospital. […]
In a statement, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said: “Based on intelligence information and an operational necessity, IDF forces are carrying out a precise and targeted operation against Hamas in a specified area in the Shifa hospital.”
The military added: “The IDF forces include medical teams and Arabic speakers, who have undergone specified training to prepare for this complex and sensitive environment, with the intent that no harm is caused to the civilians.””
In other words, the BBC’s presenter – apparently Monica Miller – managed not once, but twice in less than a minute, to provide BBC audiences with a completely false and totally misleading account of events at Shifa hospital.
The fact that the presenter and the rest of that programme’s production team did not question the claim that Israel was targeting medical staff and Arabic speakers (which surely covers just about everyone at the hospital) speaks volumes about the ‘received wisdoms’ – and basic comprehension abilities – at play in BBC newsrooms.
The fact that none of the BBC’s staff apparently bothered to fact check that entirely baseless ‘news’ before it was broadcast to millions of viewers is likewise indicative of the corporation’s commitment to adherence to standards of accuracy and impartiality.
Complaints on this issue were swiftly submitted by members of the public and the Board of Deputies of British Jews demanded a public apology.
Update: the BBC has apologised for that “error” which it claims came as a result of having “misquoted a Reuters report” and “fell below our usual editorial standards”.
Update: the BBC has published a statement on its ‘Corrections and Clarifications’ webpage: