In addition to the three reports produced by Lyse Doucet last month on the topic of reconstruction in the Gaza Strip which have already been discussed here (see related articles below), she also took part in the February 26th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme “World Have Your Say”, half of which was devoted to the same subject matter.
The item – available here from 26:30 – was introduced by presenter Chloe Tilley who, like so many of her colleagues before her, inaccurately described last summer’s conflict between Hamas and Israel as having taken place in one location alone.
“Well it’s six months since the war in Gaza between Hamas and Israel ended….”
Towards the end of her introduction Tilley referred to Doucet’s filmed reports already discussed on these pages.
CT: “As I say, Lyse Doucet – our chief international correspondent – has just returned from Gaza and she’s made some incredibly moving films – we’ll Tweet links out to them in the next few minutes – and speaking to the people of Gaza about the realities of life there right now. Lyse; for people who haven’t seen these films, just give us an idea of people you met and what you saw.”
The BBC’s chief international correspondent gave the following account, making no effort whatsoever to introduce context into her emotional – and blatantly political –monologue and frequently straying from BBC standards of accuracy and impartiality.
LD: “Imagine if you live on a densely populated sliver of land along the sparkling Mediterranean but your piece of land is about 30 miles long. The borders to it are largely shut: you can’t control your sea limits, you don’t have a way of getting out by air. And you just went through the worst war in six years: you’ve had three wars in six years. The world promised you $5.4 billion but you find yourself six months after that ceasefire was reached living in most parts of Gaza on mounds of rubble. I’ve been going to Gaza almost every month since the war ended in August and I was there for large parts of the war. It just keeps getting worse. It’s like a pressure cooker and even for resilient people…people are angry, people are frustrated and people fear there will be another war.”
CT: “And you met a family who’d lost their baby. It was just heart-breaking.”
LD: “People have lost everything. More than two thousand people died – most of them Gazans. Five hundred of them were children. 18 thousand homes were completely destroyed. Others were partially destroyed. People have lost so much. They’ve lost children and as you say we met a family which lost a six month-old baby. Ironically, Wadie was as old as the ceasefire: six months old. He died in the new battle which is just a battle to survive. He’s living in a house – well, call it a house but it has no roof, no walls, the place is freezing. His two sisters are walking around barefoot. And nobody has come to say we’re really sorry. Even when they took Wadie to the hospital, the mother crying and saying ‘he wasn’t sick, he wasn’t sick, what happened to my son?’, the doctors say ‘he’s dead’ and she says ‘look at my baby’. He goes ‘it’s…your baby is dead – go bury him’. And she sobbed into her hands and said ‘nobody is helping us’. Not – as she put it – the men who sit on the chairs; the people who run Gaza. Not the international community, not the Arab states, not Israel – who destroyed the nearby hospital which might have given Wadie an ability to survive.”
So let’s take a closer look at what Doucet did – and did not – do in this programme broadcast to millions of people worldwide.
1) She failed to provide the background information essential for audiences to be able to put her description of the Gaza Strip’s borders and access into its correct context and completely erased the crucially relevant issue of Hamas terrorism from the grim picture she painted.
2) She failed to provide listeners with any understanding of why a war took place last summer or why there have been three wars in six years – again erasing terrorism (and thousands of missile attacks on Israeli civilians) from the picture and thereby painting a false picture of the residents of the Gaza Strip as passive victims.
3) She falsely claimed that people in “most parts of Gaza” live “on mounds of rubble”. In fact, the vast majority of the damaged structures in the Gaza Strip lie within three kilometres of the border with Israel – mainly in proximity to the entrances to Hamas’ cross-border attack tunnels which Doucet also refrained from mentioning.
4) She once again regurgitated Hamas-supplied casualty figures (which the BBC has made no effort to verify independently since the end of hostilities) and she failed to make any distinction between combatants and civilians or even to note that the former existed.
5) She gave a highly emotional account of the experiences of a mother whose infant son died on January 15th 2015 without clarifying to audiences that the information she repeats is second-hand and that she was not present to verify it at the time.
6) She linked Israel to the child’s death by means of the claim that it “destroyed” an unnamed “nearby hospital” which she presumes might have saved him. Seeing as the family lives in Shuja’iya, it is likely that Doucet was referring to Wafa hospital (actually not a general hospital but a rehabilitation facility) which was commandeered by terrorist organisations for military purposes but of course Doucet made no mention of Hamas’ use of that medical facility and others and so as far as listeners were concerned, Israel just “destroyed” hospitals for no reason and because of that, babies die.
This is not the accurate and impartial journalism to which the BBC professes to adhere. It is blatant political activism using the selective presentation of information in the style usually seen coming from anti-Israel campaigning groups and the Hamas PR department.
But there was even more to come in this programme, as we will see in part two of this post.