BBC News continues to promote Hamas denials of abuse of hospitals

When the IDF launched an operation at Shifa hospital on March 18th, the BBC News website published three items relating to that story which were previously discussed here:


Three days later on March 21st, the BBC News website published another article about that story which remained on its ‘Middle East’ page until March 31st and was discussed here:


Between March 21st and the end of the IDF’s operation on April 1st, BBC audiences saw no further reporting on that topic, meaning that they had not been kept up to date as events unfolded.

Early on the morning of April 1st the BBC News website published a report originally credited to Sean Seddon which was headlined “Israeli troops pull out of Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital – witnesses”. Over the next 17 hours or so, that report was updated fourteen times and the version currently appearing online is titled “Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital in ruins after two-week Israeli raid” and is credited to Yolande Knell and Sean Seddon.

Also on April 1st, the BBC News website published an uncredited filmed report titled “Gaza: Scene of destruction at al-Shifa hospital”, the synopsis to which reads: [emphasis added]

“Footage shows burned buildings at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, two weeks after it came under siege by Israeli troops.

The Hamas-run health ministry and witnesses who spoke to the BBC said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have pulled out of the territory’s biggest hospital.

The raid happened after Israel said it had intelligence indicating Hamas was using the hospital as a base to launch attacks.

Hamas has denied using medical sites to carry out military operations.”

That highlighted Hamas claim also appeared in most versions of the written report:

“Hamas denies using medical sites to carry out military operations.”

“Israel has long accused Hamas of using civilian health infrastructure as a cover to launch its operations, which the Palestinian group refutes.”

The version currently available online states:

“Gaza’s hospitals have been a main focus of the current war, with thousands of Palestinians seeking shelter from Israeli bombardment in their grounds and Israeli forces storming the facilities because they say Hamas fighters are present there.

Israel has long accused Hamas of using civilian health infrastructure as a cover to launch its operations, which the group denies.”

With BBC audiences not having seen any coverage of the fighting at Shifa hospital for the majority of its duration, they would be unaware of the videos put out by Hamas showing its own operatives engaging in “military operations” which of course contributed to the “ruins” and “destruction” described in both these reports.

In addition, that absence of coverage means that BBC audiences would also be unaware of statements put out by other terrorist organisations concerning their involvement in the fighting at Shifa hospital, admissions by detained terrorists that Hamas operated from that hospital, the filmed evidence of large quantities of weapons discovered (including in the maternity department) during the operation or the filmed gun battles between the IDF forces and terrorists hiding in the hospital’s wards.

Particularly noteworthy is the fact that one of the BBC journalists to whom this report is credited is the same Yolande Knell who almost a decade ago interviewed a Hamas spokesman hiding in Shifa hospital (where Amnesty International documented Hamas torture in 2014) because – as she put it at the time – “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”. Hamas’ exploitation of Shifa hospital had in fact been on record long before that.

Knell and Seddon’s uncritical amplification of what is obviously Hamas propaganda does not however end there.

“The Hamas government media office said Israeli forces had killed 400 Palestinians in al-Shifa and the surrounding area, including a female doctor and her son, who was also a doctor.”

Despite their decision to quote those claims, Knell and Seddon do not clarify whether or not they have been independently verified or whether they have any evidence to show that those two doctors were in fact killed by IDF fire rather than that of Palestinian terrorist organisations.

Although they go on to quote the IDF spokesman, Knell and Seddon then promote additional claims which clearly they have not verified themselves.

“In an update, IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm Daniel Hagari said the IDF had taken “special efforts not to harm any patients, any medical staff, or any civilians in the area. […]

He added that 200 people he described as “terrorists” had been killed. Over 900 people were detained, of whom more than 500 were, he said, subsequently found to be affiliated with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad – which Israel, the UK and other countries proscribe as terrorist organisations. Interrogation of the suspects had yielded “significant intelligence”, he added.

Earlier, the IDF said “forces found large quantities of weapons, intelligence documents throughout the hospital, encountered terrorists in close-quarters battles and engaged in combat while avoiding harm to the medical staff and patients”. […]

Dr Amira al-Safady at al-Shifa told the BBC’s Gaza Lifeline radio that about 16 people who were in the intensive care unit died after being moved, because she and other doctors no longer had the equipment to treat them. […]

Patient Barra al-Shawish told Reuters news agency that the Israeli troops had allowed in a “very small amount of food”. “No treatment, no medicine, nothing, and bombing for 24 hours that didn’t stop and immense destruction in the hospital,” he said.”

In the previous report on the operation co-written by Yolande Knell on March 21st, readers were told that:

“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.”

This article also cites unidentified sources in order to promote the same narrative:

“However, some commentators suggest the second al-Shifa raid highlights flaws in Israel’s military strategy for the war. They argue that it shows the ease with which Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters were able to regroup after Israel pulled its forces out of northern Gaza and the urgent need to come up with a convincing post-war plan to govern the territory.”

In other words, eleven days after its previous report on this story, all the BBC had to offer its audiences is a ‘he said-she said’ account of events, the amplification of obviously redundant Hamas claims concerning its abuse of medical facilities and the repromotion of a pre-selected narrative.  

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1 Comment

  1. says: Grimey

    It is shambolic that the Government does not step in to stem the tide of pro-Iran propaganda being spouted by the IPC (aka BBC). Nobody in my large circle ever turns on “BBC News” – as it is simply a continual load of rubbish dreamed up by Hamas and this infiltrated disgrace of a biased medium.

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