BBC Radio 5 live broadcasts inaccurate claim on shortage of medicines in Gaza

Readers may recall that the first day of Operation Protective Edge saw the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell promoting the claim that the shortage of medical supplies in the Gaza Strip is caused by “tight border restrictions” imposed by Israel.Knell 8 7 medicine

As we pointed out here at the time, that claim is completely inaccurate.

“Firstly, the claim that medical supplies are affected by restrictions on dual-use goods (which can also be used for purposes of terrorism) into the Gaza Strip is a complete fabrication. There is not – and never has been – any restriction on the entry of medical supplies to the Gaza Strip. The actual causes for the permanent and already existing shortage of medical supplies in the Gaza Strip are explained here. […]

Further, BBC Watch inquired on July 9th regarding the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge and was informed by a Ministry of Defence official that: [emphasis added]

“Border crossings into Gaza are open but for limited use.  Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings are open for emergency medical assistance and the transfer of humanitarian aid (i.e. televisions, appliances etc. are not being let in, but food, medicine etc. is).  Yesterday alone [the day of Knell’s report – Ed.] more than 180 trucks crossed into the Gaza Strip via the border crossings.  Red Cross workers can pass when necessary, but access for reporters is conditional on the security situation and must be coordinated a few hours beforehand.”

In the two weeks since then, nothing has changed. Humanitarian aid continues to enter the Gaza Strip as daily reports show, despite terrorist attacks on the crossings themselves. The video below was filmed this last Saturday – July 19th.

Nevertheless, on July 23rd BBC Radio 5 live promoted that same inaccurate claim yet again in an interview it broadcast with a doctor from Medecins du Monde at the Nasser hospital in the Gaza Strip. The same interview was also promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Gaza doctor claims there’s a ‘lack of basic drug needs’“.R 5 live doctor

In that Radio 5 live Breakfast interview, the doctor named by the BBC as Dr Homam Abu Elwa (but more likely to be Dr Hosam Abu Elwa) says:

“As you know we are under siege for a long time in Gaza and this affects the medical parts in Gaza and there is a lack of disposables and basic drugs needs in emergency. We need really, really action from the world for intervention to help people in Gaza.”

Let’s be quite clear about this: there is a shortage of medicines and disposables in Gaza Strip hospitals and that shortage existed even before Operation Protective Edge began, but it has absolutely nothing to do with any Israeli policies or actions.  

The attempt to create linkage between actions taken by Israel to curb the flow of weapons into the Gaza Strip and the shortage of medicines there is entirely politically motivated. By promoting and amplifying that false claim, the BBC breaches editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality and displays its political campaigning colours very plainly.

Contact details for Radio 5 live: e-mail:, Twitter: @bbc5live 


7 comments on “BBC Radio 5 live broadcasts inaccurate claim on shortage of medicines in Gaza

  1. In previous campaigns Gaza was guilty of depriving civilians of scarce medical supplies and anaesthetics and of using them on the Hamas operatives and leaders instead.

    • I notice the BBC has made no mention at all of the field hospital Israel has set up for treating wounded Gazans just on the Israeli side of the Eretz crossing, OR the fact that the Gazans know it’s there, but Hamas is preventing injured gazansfrom exiting through the crossing to use it. Or the fact that several injured palestinians have been air lifted directly from Gaza to Israeli hospitals for treatment for their injuries.

      And they were also mysteriously quiet about the fact that when the IDF sent foreign journalists in Gaza a warning a few days ago that they could not guarantee the journalists’ asfety if they remained in teh areas to be targeted for tunnels, and advised them to leave Gaza for their own safety, Hamas also stopped THEM leaving throught the Erez crossing! I can’t believe they weren’t aware of any of this, but especially this last one, since it directly affects them.

      • Or the fact that Hamas now bomb this hospital. The hospital which his people are treated in. Scuh love an care for their own

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