BBC coverage of Shifa hospital operation again promotes Hamas propaganda

On March 18th the BBC News website published three items relating to a military operation at Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip which had commenced in the early hours of that day.

1) “Israel-Hamas war: Displaced Gazans describe al-Shifa raid” uncredited filmed report.

“The Israeli military says it has taken control of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City in what it called an operation to “thwart terrorist activity”.

It said troops killed 20 “terrorists”, including a senior commander of Hamas’s internal security force, and detained dozens of suspects during the raid.

Witnesses described heavy exchanges of fire around the site, where thousands of displaced people are sheltering.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said Israel was committing a war crime.” [emphasis added]

2) “Israel takes control of Gaza hospital as UN warns of famine” live page, “With Joel Gunter and Lucy Williamson reporting from Jerusalem”.

3) “Israeli forces raid Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital” by Joel Gunter and David Gritten with “Additional reporting by Rushdi Abualouf in Istanbul and Sean Seddon in London”. Originally appeared under the title “Israel launches night raid on Gaza al-Shifa hospital” and credited to Sean Seddon.

As in the two above items, that report also includes the use of superfluous punctuation around the word terrorists while the term ‘war crime’ is presented without inverted commas.

“The Israeli military says it has taken control of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City in what it called an operation to “thwart terrorist activity”.

It said troops killed 20 “terrorists”, including a senior commander of Hamas’s internal security force, and detained dozens of suspects during the raid.

Witnesses described heavy exchanges of fire around the site, where thousands of displaced people are sheltering.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said Israel was committing a war crime.”

Gunter and Gritten’s report later uncritically amplifies additional Hamas propaganda:

“Hamas and health officials have repeatedly denied the accusation that Hamas fighters have operated inside or underneath al-Shifa and other hospitals. […]

The Hamas-run health ministry said in a statement that Israeli forces had “invaded” al-Shifa Hospital for the fourth time since start of the war and was using “fabricated narratives” to justify its actions.

It accused the troops of “directly shooting the specialised surgeries building with bullets and targeting it with missiles”, and said a number of people had been killed and wounded.

“The presence of Israeli vehicles in the courtyards of the complex in a real tragedy and an attack on health institutions against all international laws and norms,” it added.

Hamas also denounced what it called a “new crime” by Israeli forces.”

None of the BBC’s reporting informs audiences that three days before the operation, the head of the Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) for Gaza had spoken with the Director of the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health about the Hamas terrorist organisation’s activities within Shifa hospital.

The BBC’s reports promote unverified accounts from medical staff and “eyewitnesses”. While the main article by Gunter and Gritten makes no mention of the weapons and cash found in a room in the hospital used by terrorists, on the live page, readers saw one unnecessarily qualified account of those finds (which appeared in filmed footage made public on the same day), together with a disclaimer of the kind apparently not necessary even when quoting anonymous “eyewitnesses”.

Both in the written report and on the live page, readers are told of the arrest of an Al Jazeera journalist.

“Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera meanwhile reported that Israeli forces had beaten and arrested its correspondent Ismail al-Ghoul during the raid. There was no immediate comment from the IDF.”

Readers are not informed that before joining Al Jazeera post October 7th, Sinwar fan Ismail al-Ghoul worked for Hamas media outlets.

Readers of the report by Gunter and Gritten find one paragraph which purports to inform them on the topic of the status of hospitals during wartime:

“The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) said he was “terribly worried about the situation” at al-Shifa hospital, which he warned was “endangering health workers, patients and civilians”.

“The hospital has only recently restored minimal health services. Any hostilities or militarization of the facility jeopardize health services, access for ambulances, and delivery of life-saving supplies,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Hospitals must be protected. Ceasefire!”

Hospitals have protected status during times of war under international humanitarian law – but they can lose that protection in limited circumstances if they are being used to commit an “act harmful to the enemy”.”

Gunter and Gritten do not bother to explain what an “act harmful to the enemy” actually means.

As long as the BBC continues to uncritically promote the baseless denials of Hamas and other terrorist organisations concerning their exploitation of medical facilities for military purposes, that information contributes nothing to BBC understanding of the story ostensibly being reported ‘accurately’ and ‘impartially’.

Related Articles:

BBC NEWS WEBSITE COVERAGE OF THE NASSER HOSPITAL OPERATION

AN OVERVIEW OF BBC NEWS’ SECOND NASSER HOSPITAL BINGE

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