An overview of BBC News’ second Nasser hospital binge

As readers may recall, between February 14th and February 20th, the BBC News website published no fewer than eight items relating to an IDF operation at the Nasser hospital in Khan Younis:


Almost a month later, the BBC News website returned to that topic in six more reports.

March 12th 2024: “Gaza medics tell BBC that Israeli troops beat and humiliated them after hospital raid” Credited to Alice Cuddy, with:

“Additional reporting by Muath Al Khatib and by BBC Arabic’s Marie-Jose Al Azzi and Soha Ibrahim

Verification by Richard Irvine-Brown, Benedict Garman and Emma Pengelly, BBC Verify

The BBC also translated that report into other languages including Hausa, Portuguese and Indonesian.

On the same day, the BBC News website published two filmed reports – with no mention of who did the filming in the second one – which also appear in the above report by Cuddy:

March 12th 2024: “Verified footage shows people detained after raid on Nasser Hospital”. Uncredited.

“The BBC has verified secretly filmed footage which shows people being detained after an IDF (Israel Defense Forces) raid on Nasser Hospital in Gaza.

The IDF says it “operated within the Nassar Hospital in a precise and focused manner, creating minimal damage to the hospital’s ongoing activity, and without harming the patients or the medical staff”.”

March 12th 2024: “Nasser Hospital doctor says he was detained and beaten by IDF”. Uncredited.

“Dr Ahmed Abu Sabha has told the BBC he was detained and beaten by Israeli forces after their raid on Nasser Hospital.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said “during the activity, about 200 terrorists and suspects of terrorist activity were detained, including some who posed as medical teams, many weapons were found, as well as closed medicines intended for Israeli hostages”.”

Cuddy’s report is based on claims made by Dr Ahmed Abu Sabha, Dr Hatim Rabaa, two anonymous sources and the hospital’s manager Atef Al Hout. As documented by David Collier, all three of those named sources have records of supporting terrorism on their social media accounts.

Nevertheless, the BBC brought in an expert to provide comment relating to their claims:

“An expert in humanitarian law said the footage and the testimony from the medical staff interviewed by the BBC was “extremely concerning”. He said some of the accounts provided to the BBC “very clearly cross over into the category of cruel and inhumane treatment”.

Dr Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne, co-director of the Centre for International Law at the University of Bristol, said: “It goes against what has for a long time been a very fundamental idea in the law that applies in armed conflict, which is that hospitals and medical staff are protected.”

“The fact that they treat nationals of the enemy side should not in any way undermine their protection,” he said.”

The identity of the patients at Nasser hospital is of course a strawman that has nothing whatsoever to do with this story about an IDF operation at a hospital being used by terrorists for military purposes. As in the BBC’s previous round of reporting on Nasser hospital, neither Cuddy nor her expert bothered to inform BBC audiences of the circumstances in which hospitals lose their protected status or that, in line with the requirements, advance warnings were given to the hospital’s manager to cease all Hamas military activity within the hospital’s compound.

Despite ample evidence of the abuse of hospitals by Hamas and other terrorist organisations, Cuddy chose to amplify Hamas denials: [emphasis added]

“The IDF raided the hospital in the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis – which was one of the few in the Strip still functioning – on 15 February, saying intelligence indicated that the hospital housed Hamas operatives.

They also said Israeli hostages taken by Hamas on 7 October had been held there – and some of the hostages themselves have publicly said they were kept at Nasser. Hamas has denied that its fighters operate inside medical facilities.”

The fact that rocket fire from within the grounds of the Nasser hospital had been documented a month prior to the IDF operation is not mentioned.

Cuddy’s report also relies in part on information supplied by the terrorist organisation Hamas itself:

“We were given the names of 49 Nasser medical personnel said to have been detained. Of those, 26 were named by multiple sources, including medics on the ground, the Hamas-run health ministry, international groups, and the families of those missing.”

While quoting the Red Cross, Cuddy fails to inform readers that that organisation has not visited any of the Israeli or foreign hostages held by Hamas and others.

“The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says that since 7 October, Israel has suspended its detention visits, meaning it has not been able to visit any detainees.

It told the BBC it was “deeply concerned” by the reports of arrests and ongoing detention of medics.

“Wherever and whoever they may be, detainees need to be treated humanely and with dignity at all times, in accordance of international humanitarian law,” it said.

“The ICRC has continuously called for, and is ready to immediately resume, detention visits in order to monitor the treatment of detainees and the conditions of detention.””

Cuddy promotes “an internal UN report” claiming abuse of detainees but fails to clarify that it was compiled by the same UN organisation – UNRWA – which employed people who took part in the October 7th massacre and which had Hamas assets underneath its main headquarters in the Gaza Strip.

As reported by the Daily Mail, the three journalists credited with having provided “additional reporting” for Cuddy’s report – one of whom is not a BBC employee – themselves have problematic social media records.

“Now The Mail on Sunday can reveal concerns about the views of two BBC Arabic reporters, Soha Ibrahim and Marie-Jose Al Azzi, who were credited with working on the story.

Earlier this month Ms Ibrahim liked a video on X of Palestine Action activists slashing an oil painting of former British prime minister Arthur Balfour, who helped pave the way for the creation of Israel. On the day of the Hamas attacks on October 7, she ‘liked’ videos of people in Lebanon and Tunisia chanting, dancing and waving Palestinian flags in the street in apparent celebration.

London-based Ms Ibrahim, who has worked for the BBC for 12 years, also liked another post on X on October 7 which celebrated ‘the first of the martyrs of the operation’. The tweet featured a picture of an Egyptian man who was killed after shooting dead three Israeli soldiers last June.

Ms Ibrahim also liked a video of Egyptian football fans chanting ‘we sacrifice our souls, our blood for Palestine’ following the attacks.

Meanwhile Ms Al Azzi, who has worked at the BBC since 2019 and is based in Lebanon, described Israel as a ‘terrorist apartheid state’ in a post from 2018 that has since been deleted, according to anti-Semitism researchers.

Last week’s BBC report also credited a freelance photo journalist Muath Al Khatib, based in Jerusalem, who works part-time for WAFA, the Palestinian state news agency.

He previously made an anti-Jewish post on Facebook while on holiday in Thailand in 2016. ‘I’m fleeing from the city to the Far East, and I find more Jews than locals on the island on Ko Pha Ngan,’ he wrote.”

Nevertheless, those three journalists (who presumably, given the language barrier, were involved in the process of authentication of the claims made by the quoted Nasser hospital staff members) also contributed to another report by Cuddy which appeared two days later.

March 14th 2024: “How gunfire and fear engulfed Gaza hospital before Israeli raid”. Credited to Alice Cuddy, Sean Seddon, Marie-Jose Al Azzi & Richard Irvine-Brown, with:

“Additional reporting by Muath Al Khatib and by BBC Arabic’s Soha Ibrahim

Verification by Richard Irvine-Brown, BBC Verify”

That report purports to tell BBC audiences what happened in the days prior to the IDF operation at Nasser hospital and relies on the accounts of several members of staff, including some quoted in the previous report. [emphasis added]

“Those we spoke to in the hospital, including international medics who have stayed and worked there since the war began, say there was no overt presence of Hamas fighters they were aware of.”

Once again readers are not told of the rocket fire from the grounds of the hospital and no mention is made of the fact that already on January 26th the IDF had advised civilians taking shelter at the Nasser hospital of the appropriate evacuation route.

That report is made up primarily of accounts of various incidents.

“The BBC has verified footage of 21 incidents of gunfire or its impact filmed from within the hospital grounds and has confirmed the shooting of three people there. […]

In the days before the raid, the fear in Nasser was building, and almost everyone we spoke to who was in the hospital at this time believed IDF snipers and drones were targeting people moving between buildings on the hospital site or standing by windows. […]

Footage shared online by a Nasser doctor shows the injured nurse being rushed into an operating theatre on foot and appear to start to lose consciousness as colleagues struggle to cut away his blood-soaked clothing.

It is not possible to determine who fired the shot, and the IDF did not respond to requests for comment on this. […]

“[He] was executed before our eyes. In front of the displaced and in front of his mother,” one displaced person staying on the hospital grounds told the BBC.

Nobody the BBC spoke to saw where the bullet came from. […]

Photos of each of the boys Dr Serr said were shot while playing match a video posted on the same day by a journalist who was in the complex at the time and verified by the BBC. We cannot independently confirm the circumstances of the shootings.”

On the same day, a related report by BBC Verify appeared on the BBC News website.

March 14th 2024: “Piecing together the story of Nasser hospital using footage”. BBC Verify.

“BBC Verify authenticates video from key moments in the story of Nasser Medical Complex in Gaza.”

BBC Verify’s report includes footage filmed by Al Jazeera cameraman Hamdan El Dahdouh – the cousin of another Al Jazeera journalist who was also a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative.

Presenter Richard Irvine-Brown tells BBC audiences that: [emphasis added]

“…by February we were seeing videos of people being shot in the hospital grounds, although we can’t verify who was responsible.”

The following day, another video report included in Cuddy’s second report was published separately on the BBC News website, with BBC audiences once again not informed who did the filming:

March 15th 2024: “Gaza doctor recalls rescue during hospital raid”. Uncredited.

“Dr Amira al-Assouli was volunteering at Nasser Hospital when it was raided by Israeli military in February.”

In addition to those six reports published on the ‘Middle East’ page, on March 12th the BBC News website published a report by Alex Binley on its ‘UK’ page headlined “Israel-Gaza war: David Cameron says BBC report into Nasser hospital raid ‘very disturbing’”.

“David Cameron has said the BBC report about Palestinian medical staff in Gaza being beaten and humiliated by Israeli troops is “very disturbing”.

The foreign secretary called for “answers from the Israelis”. […]

Lord Cameron told the House of Lords: “These are very disturbing pictures and reports that have come out from this hospital and we need to get to the bottom of what exactly happened and we need answers from the Israelis about that.””

Rather, Lord Cameron would do well to “get to the bottom” of why BBC Arabic staff who have displayed a clear lack of impartiality on social media are nevertheless producing reporting about the conflict in the Gaza Strip on behalf of his national broadcaster (together with an employee of the media arm of the terror-funding Palestinian Authority) so that in future, he and others can avoid jumping to hasty conclusions based on unconfirmed speculations promoted by partisan sources.

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  1. says: Neil C

    Lord Cameron needs to start using his brain instead of his grapevine. BBC Verify, hahaha, the joke organisation of the decade. #defundthebbc

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