BBC News uses Shifa military operation for more promotion of a narrative

Previously we looked at the BBC News website content published on the first day of the ongoing operation at Shifa hospital which began on March 18th:

BBC COVERAGE OF SHIFA HOSPITAL OPERATION AGAIN PROMOTES HAMAS PROPAGANDA

On March 21st the BBC News website published another report on that topic titled “New Gaza hospital raid shows Hamas is not a spent force”. Credited to Yolande Knell and Rushdi Abualouf – located in Jerusalem and Istanbul respectively – that article provides little new information to BBC audiences.

As readers may recall, when a previous operation took place at Shifa hospital in mid-November, the BBC repeatedly tried to convince its audiences that – in the words of its international editor Jeremy Bowen:

“The evidence Israel has produced, so far, I do not believe to be convincing in terms of the kind of rhetoric Israelis were using about the set-up at the hospital, which suggested this was a nerve centre for the Hamas operation.”

As evidence accumulated, the BBC initially continued to amplify Hamas denials concerning its exploitation of Shifa hospital for terrorist purposes and then went silent.

The opening paragraph of Knell and Abualouf’s report returns to that framing: [emphasis added]

“Four months after Israeli troops first stormed Gaza’s biggest hospital, al-Shifa, claiming it was a cover for a Hamas command and control centre, they have returned.”

Later, Knell and Abualouf promote uncredited – and unevidenced – “accusations”:

“Back in November, there were accusations of possible violations of international law as Israeli tanks closed in on al-Shifa, in the heart of Gaza City. Premature babies were among those who died as conditions deteriorated in the besieged hospital.”

The report’s description of the latest operation states:

“The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) now claim to have killed “over 140 terrorists” in ongoing fighting at al-Shifa and to have made some 600 arrests, including dozens of top Hamas commanders as well as some from Islamic Jihad. Two Israeli soldiers have also been killed.

Israeli reports suggest that in recent weeks the army found that senior Hamas figures had resumed operations at al-Shifa and that some even took their families to the hospital. The IDF says it uncovered arms caches and a large quantity of cash at the site.”

As in the BBC’s earlier reporting on the story, Knell and Abualouf refrain from showing readers the documentation of the weapons and millions of dollars in cash found in rooms at the hospital.

BBC audiences are not informed that among those arrested during the operation is Mohamed Kawasmeh – one of the Hamas terrorists behind the 2014 kidnappings and murders of three Israeli youths.

Despite the evidence showing that hundreds of Hamas and PIJ terrorists were holed up in the hospital, Knell and Abalouf go on to tell readers that:

“Hamas has denied that its fighters were based there and claims that those killed were wounded patients and displaced people.”

Indeed, Ismail al-Thawabta of the Hamas government media office – the same department which provides the casualty figures quoted and promoted by the BBC – did publish such a claim. Hamas’ Al Qassam brigades, however, stated that it had “confronted enemy forces”.

The point of Knell and Abualouf’s report is clearly not to update BBC audiences on events at Shifa hospital during this latest operation. Instead, it promotes equivalence between “claims” from the IDF and a terrorist organisation, alongside unverified accounts from unidentified sources:

Palestinian witnesses have told the BBC that gunfire and Israeli air strikes have been endangering patients, medics and hundreds of people still sheltering in the grounds.

A local journalist has shared footage of smoke billowing from the complex.

In another unverified video, shared on social media, dozens of women can be seen hunkering down in a building with their children. One says: “They took our men to an unknown place and now they’re asking women and children to leave. We don’t know where we’ll go”.”

So what is the narrative that Knell and Abualouf are actually trying to promote with this item? The answer to that question appears in the form of promotion of unsourced claims from unidentified “analysts”:

“While this week’s raid again highlights a desperate humanitarian situation, it is also a strong reminder that Hamas is far from a spent force.

Some analysts suggest it shows the desperate need for a comprehensive strategy to deal with the Islamist armed group and a clear plan on the post-war governance of Gaza.”

Knell and Abualouf promote a simplistic interpretation of IDF statements following the November operation at Shifa hospital and additional fighting:

“The Israeli army went on to suggest that Hamas’s regional brigades and battalions in the north of the Gaza Strip had been disbanded. But soon reports emerged that small cells were regrouping.”

As has been the case in BBC reporting for months, they go on to whitewash the terrorist organisation’s theft of humanitarian aid:

“While Hamas has undoubtedly been severely weakened by the war, there have since been signs that it has been trying to restore its governing capability, including through policing and with some possible involvement in aid distribution.”

The framing continues:

“Washington has indicated that Israel’s renewed military action at al-Shifa Hospital illustrates its worry that its close ally does not have an adequate strategy to dismantle the organisation.

“Israel cleared Shifa once. Hamas came back into Shifa, which raises questions about how to ensure a sustainable campaign against Hamas so that it cannot regenerate, cannot retake territory,” the US National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, said this week.”

In other words, while Knell and Abualouf on the one hand amplify Hamas’ denials regarding the presence of its operatives in Shifa hospital, they concurrently promote the narrative that the return of Hamas to that location shows that it is “far from a spent force” and that plans to conduct a military operation in Rafah in order to take out the four remaining Hamas battalions there are hence unlikely to be effective.

The bottom line of the BBC’s chosen narrative is presented with a link to another report co-written by Rushdi Abualouf:

“The US has been pressing Israel to come up with a feasible alternative for Hamas rule in Gaza. Its plan has been to promote individuals linked to the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority (PA) and to work with Arab states to prevent a power vacuum.”

As noted here last week, the BBC has been promoting that US stance for months. It has not however provided its audiences with any information which would enable them to make their own assessments of its viability.

Related Articles:

NO BBC FOLLOW-UP ON RESPONSES TO APPOINTMENT OF NEW PA PM

BBC NEWS PROMOTES DISINFORMATION ABOUT IDF SHIFA HOSPITAL OP

BBC EXPLAINER ON HOSPITALS WHITEWASHES HAMAS EXPLOITATION

WHERE DID THE BBC’S BOWEN GET HIS ‘SECURITY GUARDS AND KALASHNIKOVS’ CLAIM?

BBC NEWS REPORT ON KIDNAPPING SUSPECTS DOWNPLAYS HAMAS CONNECTIONS

BBC STICKS TO INACCURATE NARRATIVE DESPITE HAMAS CLAIM OF JUNE KIDNAPPINGS

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1 Comment

  1. says: Sid

    BBC lacks credibility – its reports, even as Knell reported on BBC Today 8am News BBC Radio 4, lacks verification and is based on hearsay, since how can she know sitting in Jerusalem, what is going on in Gaza/Rafah. Israel radio does NOT, repeat NOT, give out such information nor does the IDF spokesman!

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