BBC News again ignores editorial guidelines in doctor interview

The BBC News website’s ‘Israel-Gaza War’ page includes a report published on June 27th under the headline “‘Constant gunshots’ – Hull surgeon’s Gaza experience”.

Credited to BBC Yorkshire and Lincolnshire journalist Pritti Mistry, the report consists entirely of accounts provided by a British surgeon who earlier this year spent three weeks volunteering with an American charity at the European Hospital near Khan Yunis (rather than “in Rafah” as claimed) in the Gaza Strip.

“A surgeon who treated patients in Gaza has said he is planning to go back before Christmas after witnessing “unimaginable” suffering there.

Dr Junaid Sultan, a vascular surgeon in Hull, spent just under three weeks volunteering at the European Hospital in Rafah in April.”

Sultan’s accounts (which he has also provided to other media outlets) are presented to BBC audiences with a caution: “Warning: This story contains graphic descriptions which may be distressing”. His decision to travel to the Gaza Strip is explained as follows:

“Dr Sultan said he was compelled to visit Gaza after an emotional appeal by a colleague in Scarborough whose father, a Gazan civilian, was “shot in the head” and was in desperate need of urgent life-saving treatment but died hours later.

Recalling the moment he landed [sic] in Gaza, the medic said: “The realisation that I’m actually in a war zone – it actually hit me when I was there.”

Mistry of course had no way of verifying the stories and descriptions provided by her interviewee, who is presented as an impartial – and professional – observer.

In fact, Sultan promoted partisan narratives of ‘apartheid’, ‘genocide’ and ‘war crimes’ on one social media platform just three weeks after the unprecedented Hamas attacks on Israel last October.

Prior to that, on October 14th 2023 – one week after the Hamas invasion and slaughter of over a thousand Israelis – he had written a post on Facebook which includes the following: [emphasis added]

“I am not much on social media. But I observed when I was on media during the ukarine invasion then the response of world was completely different. The main stream media was highlighting the crimes of oppressor and the fight against oppressor was appreciated and supported. There was no rocket science. This had a domino chain effect and every body was just pitching the same narrative. But on contrary when Israel have been doing the same colonial policy for years, the main stream media is supporting it and do not report the truth and turned complete blind eye towards the suppressed individuals. And in fact portray false accusations to sell the wrong propaganda of government of Israel. Government of Israel have money, resources and aid by deep states of west and use it to corrupt the true narrative. All the influencers and celebrities just follow the same lead. And I don’t see anyone raising the voice against this aggression. Two similar situations but completely different management. And we as tax payers are contributing a part to it as it goes as aid to government of Israel. […]

I would like to give you the background of the Palestinian conflict. It did not start just a week ago when Hamas attacked Israel. Israel killed almost more than 2000 Palestinians alone in the last two years and without any provocation from Hamas. But the problem is deep rooted and conflict started originally around 1948 on the major scale. So please try to understand the root cause of this problem.

In Israel, you are not allowed to mention the Nakba – also known as the Palestinian Catastrophe.

The Nakba was the destruction of Palestinian society and homeland in 1948, and the permanent displacement of a majority of the Palestinians.

The term is used to describe both the events of 1948 and the ongoing occupation of the Palestinians in the Palestinian territories (the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip), as well as their persecution and displacement in the Palestinian territories and in Palestinian refugee camps throughout the region.

UN passed a resolution 181 under pressure to come up with a plan to accept both Palestinian and Israel state. Even though it was wrong and was simple Colonial expansion but it was still a compromise to keep peace between both parties. But Israel did not respect the UN resolution and since 1948 have been killing Palestinians and is expelling them from their home land and getting illegal Israeli settlers in Palestinians homes.

So this is not just a week old problem projected in the media in completely wrong way but is almost 75 years old problem. Palestinians have been facing this criminal offence for years and more than a million been killed over the years. They have been isolated and no one in the world raise voice for them. Media is biased. UN is spineless as always and deep states of west just support government of Israel. Leaders of Islamic countries are puppets and on pay role and won’t do anything as they will loose their dictatorship for raising a voice against government of Israel. All the world stood against Russia and supported ukarine by all possible means. However, in this case world is supporting the oppressor (Israel) and rather provided it with weapons to kill the victims.

But in last week, it has escalated to another level and this has come to the point that this is genocide. It is horrifying that this is happening in 2023 and the whole world is watching and no one is doing anything.”

Sultan’s distortions of history and his obvious disinterest in facts and accuracy are further demonstrated by a series of disinformation graphics and social media posts which he appended to his own post, including the following:

For nearly nine months the BBC has been producing reports which rely on unverified – and unquestioned – claims made by local or foreign medical staff working in the Gaza Strip, including in facilities exploited by terrorists.

BBC REPORTING ON HOSPITALS IN ISRAEL AND THE GAZA STRIP

BBC NEWS CONTINUES TO AVOID THE ISSUE OF HAMAS ASSETS IN CIVILIAN AREAS

BBC NEWS WEBSITE COVERAGE OF THE NASSER HOSPITAL OPERATION

AN OVERVIEW OF BBC NEWS’ SECOND NASSER HOSPITAL BINGE

A TASTE OF THE BBC’S SHIFA-WASHING

BBC LONDON PROMOTES ACTIVIST DOCTOR AND MORE AL AHLI MUDDYING

Particularly given its experience with another British activist doctor’s stories concerning the al Ahli hospital explosion last October, one would have expected the BBC to have understood by now that not all accounts provided by someone in a white coat are automatically credible and to have overcome its obvious unwillingness to check claims made by anyone with some sort of medical training.

Pritti Mistry’s report is yet another example of the BBC’s repeated failure to comply with its own editorial guidelines concerning ‘Contributors’ Affiliations’, which include the requirement to inform audiences about their “particular viewpoints”. After all, readers would obviously have been much better placed to judge Dr Sultan’s accounts for themselves had they been informed that he had been promoting conspiracy theories, ahistorical claptrap and the false notion of ‘genocide’ in the Gaza Strip for months before he gave this interview to the BBC. 

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