Comparing BBC reporting on strikes on hospitals in Syria and Gaza

On July 31st the Associated Press reported an airstrike (allegedly not the first) on a hospital in the Dara’a province of southern Syria.

“In southern Syria, an airstrike on a hospital in an opposition-controlled town put the facility out of service Sunday.

The hospital in Jasem was targeted in one of several airstrikes to hit the town in Deraa province, located some 35 miles (57 kilometers) south of Damascus, according to the Local Coordination Committees activist network. The group said six people were killed in the strikes, blaming them on the government.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said the hospital strike killed a pharmacist and put the facility out of service.

In a statement later Sunday, the president of the International Rescue Committee, David Miliband, said the group was “dismayed” and “angry” at the attack on the hospital, which it was supporting. It said six people had been killed in the strike, and many more wounded. It said that across Syria “aid workers and civilians are being targeted in a merciless way on a daily basis,” and called for all those involved to be held to account.

Hospitals are regularly targeted in Syria’s war, drawing condemnation from the U.N. and the international community. The New York-based Physicians for Human Rights says over 90 percent of attacks on medical facilities in Syria have been carried out by pro-government forces.”

While the BBC News website has not yet reported that attack, it did publish cautiously worded written and filmed reports on an attack on another hospital in the Idlib province the previous day.

“It’s not yet known who was responsible for the attack…”

“These unverified pictures…”

“Amnesty International say the latest bombing appears to be part of what they describe as a despicable pattern of attacks in Syria deliberately targeting medical facilities.”

The BBC has also covered previous attacks on medical facilities in Syria, including in Aleppo in June and in April. In an article from February 2016 titled “Syria crisis: Air strikes on hospitals ‘war crimes’“, the BBC News website took the trouble to provide audiences with a short guide to the legal background to the topic.

insert bombing hospitals

So as we see, the BBC is aware of the fact that medical facilities can be a legitimate military target in certain situations but notably, it did not go to the trouble of informing its audiences of that fact two years ago during the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Moreover, the corporation went out of its way at the time to conceal Hamas’ use of hospitals in the Gaza Strip for military purposes and to provide amplification for denial of that tactic, thereby implying that Israeli actions were unnecessary, unjustified and even unlawful. For example:Op pe Adams vers 2

Hospital on Gaza conflict’s front line” by Paul Adams, BBC News website, July 18th 2014 – discussed here.

“Israel says rockets have been fired from Basman al-Ashi’s hospital, a charge his staff deny completely.”

“World Update” interview with ISM activist, BBC World Service radio, July 31st 2014 – discussed here.

Damon: “Because you will know that there have been all kinds of rumours on the internet about hospitals being used to hide men and indeed weapons. Any evidence?”

Catron: “Oh yes; I’ve heard all these…all kinds of these rumours. I’ve seen numerous claims that al Wafa hospital where I stayed for a week in Shuja’iya was the centre of a Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant command centre. Now every journalist that came into the hospital from every major news agency had full run of the place. They could go anywhere in it they liked. How none of them ever noticed this command centre….”

Gaza conflict: Contrasting views on targeting” BBC News website, August 4th 2014 – discussed here.

“The Israelis say they have to bomb the hospitals and shelters because there are fighters here, but that is not true. The only people we have are sick people.” 

The BBC also amplified the false notion that Israel indiscriminately and unjustifiable targeted medical facilities – for example:Shifa Sahti tweet 1

Gaza crisis: Israel releases ‘aborted airstrike’ video” by Orla Guerin, BBC News website, July 31st 2014 – discussed here.

“This is a crowded area. People have nowhere to go. In many cases they have no transport, they have no means of escape. And you’re attacking hospitals where the wounded are being treated.”

Gaza ceasefire ends as Israel reports rocket fire” and “Israel air strikes resume in Gaza amid rockets” BBC News website, August 8th 2014 – discussed here.

“On Thursday, the human rights group Amnesty International called for an investigation into what it said was mounting evidence that Israeli forces had deliberately attacked hospitals and health professionals in Gaza. The attacks have left at least six medics dead.”

It has continued to promote that falsehood since the conflict ended – for example here – and also to broadcast additional denial of Hamas’ use of hospitals for military purposes.Knell Beit Lahiya 1

So as we see in Syria, where there is cause to believe that medical facilities really are being attacked indiscriminately, the BBC uses very cautious wording and informs its audiences of the legal background to the issue. In contrast, in its reporting from the Gaza Strip in 2014, the BBC failed to provide any such background information, repeatedly promoted the theme of Israeli wrongdoing and actively misled its audiences with regard to the reason for Israeli actions against institutions such as Wafa hospital: Hamas’ use of that medical facility for military purposes.

Related Articles:

BBC claims that Israel targeted a centre for the disabled in Gaza shown to be inaccurate

Clarifications required for BBC reports on Shati incident

BBC reports on Wafa hospital shown to be inaccurate

Revisiting BBC reporting of civilian deaths in Gaza on July 28th 2014

BBC reports on Wafa hospital shown to be inaccurate

The Wafa hospital in the Shuja’iya neighbourhood of Gaza City was featured in several BBC reports produced during the conflict between Israel and Gaza Strip-based terrorist organisations this last summer. Those reports include the ones below, all of which have the common denominator of denial of Hamas’ use of that institution for military purposes and hence imply that Israeli actions against that hospital were unnecessary, unjustified and even unlawful.editorial guidelines

Hospital on Gaza conflict’s front line” by Paul Adams, BBC News website, July 18th 2014 – discussed here.

“Israel says rockets have been fired from Basman al-Ashi’s hospital, a charge his staff deny completely.”

“World Update” interview with ISM activist, BBC World Service radio, July 31st 2014 – discussed here.

Damon: “Because you will know that there have been all kinds of rumours on the internet about hospitals being used to hide men and indeed weapons. Any evidence?”

Catron: “Oh yes; I’ve heard all these…all kinds of these rumours. I’ve seen numerous claims that al Wafa hospital where I stayed for a week in Shuja’iya was the centre of a Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant command centre. Now every journalist that came into the hospital from every major news agency had full run of the place. They could go anywhere in it they liked. How none of them ever noticed this command centre….”

Gaza conflict: Contrasting views on targeting” BBC News website, August 4th 2014 – discussed here.

“The Israelis say they have to bomb the hospitals and shelters because there are fighters here, but that is not true. The only people we have are sick people.” 

As has been noted here previously (see related articles below), the Israeli Military Attorney General (MAG) has published the findings of some of the investigations conducted into incidents which occurred in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge. In relation to Wafa hospital the findings are as follows. [all emphasis added]

Allegations Concerning Attacks on Al-Wafa Hospital (11-23 July 2014)

In reports received by the MAG Corps, and in correspondence from various NGOs, it was alleged that the Al-Wafa Hospital was unlawfully attacked by IDF forces on a number of occasions between 11-23 July 2014. As a result, and in accordance with the MAG’s investigation policy, it was decided to refer the incident for examination by the FFAM [Fact Finding Assessment Mission – Ed.].

According to the factual findings and materials collated by the FFAM and presented to the MAG, Palestinian terrorist organizations used the hospital compound for a range of varied and multiple military purposes throughout the period noted above, as well as beforehand. Such, it was found that Hamas used structures in the hospital for positioning surveillance devices so as to track IDF operational activity, that the hospital structures were used on multiple occasions as firing positions towards IDF forces, and that rockets were launched from the immediate vicinity of these structures. Further, according to materials presented to the MAG, reliable information indicated that the sole use that was made of the hospital, from a certain date onwards, was for the military purposes of Hamas, by Hamas’ military operatives. At this point, the hospital had already been evacuated of all civilians – patients and staff.

According to the factual findings, on a number of occasions during this period IDF forces were forced to return immediate fire, in a discerning and precise manner, towards sources of attacking fire that posed a serious and immediate threat to those forces. The MAG is not aware of any civilian harm resulting from these incidents. At the same time, in light of the ongoing and widespread military use made of the hospital by Hamas, a number of warnings were provided by the IDF to official entities in the Gaza Strip and to the Palestinian Authority, as well as to international organizations, requiring that the military use of the hospital be ceased.

On 23 July 2014, after these warnings went unheeded and after fire was again directed at IDF forces from the hospital, it was decided to attack the hospital. The attack was only carried out after the IDF had ensured a number of times, that all civilians had evacuated the hospital and that the hospital was being used at that time solely for military purposes.

After reviewing the factual findings and the material collated by the FFAM with regard to each and every incident of attack, the MAG found that, with exception to one instance which will be discussed below, the attacks were conducted in accordance with Israeli domestic law and international law requirements. The attacks were directed against military objectives, while adhering to the requirements of the principle of proportionality. Likewise, the MAG found that the attack was executed only after various precautions were undertaken, with significant efforts to minimize civilian harm. With regard to the incidents where IDF forces were faced with a serious and immediate threat to their lives, the forces returned fire immediately towards the source of the attacking fire, in a precise and discerning manner, and without harming civilians. The structures in the hospital compound were attacked and destroyed only after advance warning had been provided as required under international law, and no civilians were present at the time. The decision to attack was made in a careful and reasoned manner by the authorized authorities, after Hamas disregarded advance warnings and continued in its military use of the hospital compound, thereby resulting in the loss of the special protection from attack provided to the hospital under international law.

In light of the above, the MAG did not find that the actions of the IDF forces raised grounds for a reasonable suspicion of criminal misconduct. As a result, the MAG ordered the case to be closed, without opening a criminal investigation or ordering further action against those involved in the incident.

At the same time, the MAG found that one of the attacks, occurring on 11 July 2014, and directed against military surveillance equipment placed by Hamas on the roof and uppermost floor of one of the hospital’s buildings, was seemingly carried out without advance warning. It should be noted that this attack was directed at a defined point on one of the buildings in the hospital compound, where it was known that no patients or medical staff were present at the time, and that the attack was planned and carried out in such a manner so as to strike only the surveillance equipment and its immediate vicinity, without causing any collateral damage to civilians or adjacent buildings. Since this incident did not establish a serious violation of the law of armed conflict which requires criminal investigation, and in light of the other circumstances of the incident, the MAG found that there were no grounds for a reasonable suspicion of criminal misconduct in this incident. However, the MAG recommended that the Chief of General Staff examine the reasons why the relevant authorities did not provide the required advance warning and to take measures where deemed appropriate. In addition, the MAG recommended that the Chief of General Staff provide a clarification in the relevant IDF regulations reflecting the requirement to advance warning prior to an attack against a medical facility being used for military purposes.”

Clearly the impressions given to audiences in the above BBC produced reports are inaccurate and misleading. Those still available to the public on the BBC News website therefore need to be signposted accordingly – not least because they are potentially the source of editorial complaints. Additionally, a review of the practice of amplification of unverified claims by often inadequately presented politically motivated interviewees would obviously contribute to the avoidance of the presentation of similar inaccurate information to BBC audiences in the future.

Related Articles:

BBC claims that Israel targeted a centre for the disabled in Gaza shown to be inaccurate

Clarifications required for BBC reports on Shati incident

 

 

 

 

Orla Guerin’s parting shot breaches BBC editorial guidelines

“We apologize for this and would like to assure you that the matter has been raised with the relevant editorial staff at the BBC News Channel, who have been reminded of the need to clearly describe the ideology of such organizations in our coverage.”

According to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Amena Saleem, the above words appeared in an email from the BBC in response to a PSC complaint to the effect that the organization to which an interviewee on BBC News belongs was not adequately described to viewers as stipulated in the BBC’s editorial guidelines and reaffirmed by the BBC ECU in October 2013. However, the BBC’s commitment to the need to “clearly describe the ideology” of organisations to which interviewees are linked obviously lacks consistency – as yet another recent example shows.

On August 13th Orla Guerin filed her parting shot just prior to her departure from the Gaza Strip. That filmed report for BBC television news programmes also appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza conflict: Allegations of war crimes” and was promoted on Twitter by its producer Nicola Careem.

The bulk of Guerin’s report is based on a video put out by the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) last month which has of course not been authenticated by the BBC. Guerin opens with a euphemistic description of the ISM as “international activists” which of course in no way informs viewers of that organisation’s ideology: a particularly relevant topic seeing as Guerin’s claims are based on the ISM’s claims.

“This is one of many cases Palestinians want the UN to investigate. International activists searching for the dead and wounded during a brief ceasefire. In the green T-shirt a 22 year-old local man Salem Shemali – looking for relatives. A shot rings out – apparently from an Israeli sniper. Salem was hit but was still calling out, still alive. After two more shots he was dead.”

Guerin of course has no proof (for example, ballistic evidence) that whoever shot Shemali was “an Israeli sniper”, but she also has no qualms about amplifying the ISM’s allegations. The video was filmed in Shuja’iya on July 20th; a neighbourhood which, as readers no doubt recall, civilians had been advised to evacuate several days previously and which was the location of the entrances to cross-border tunnels and considerable Hamas infrastructure.  After hours of fierce fighting there, Hamas requested a short ceasefire via the Red Cross and medical teams and journalists – including the BBCmoved in.Guerin ISM report

Guerin goes on to interview Rina Andolini with the caption on screen reading “International Solidarity Movement”. Again, no effort is made to inform viewers what that organization is or of its close ties to Hamas.

Guerin: “British activist Rina Andolini is the woman in the video – an eye-witness to the killing.”

Andolini: “I mean I’ve never seen anyone pretty much just shot dead in front of me. Erm…and no reason, you know, no reason whatsoever. A young lad, just wanting to look for his family, clearly distressed, as anyone would be in that situation, you know. You go to find your family and you end up dead. Where’s the justice?”

Guerin continues with more amplification of unverified, context-free claims.

“In hospital we found Salem’s uncle Nasser who was injured a week later. He told us Israeli soldiers forced their way into his home and an officer shot him at close range. ‘His face was painted’ he says, ‘but I’d know him anywhere from his eyes’.”

Guerin then goes on to join the ranks of her Middle East Editor in the department of denial of Hamas’ use of human shields.

“While there are growing allegations against Israel, it claims civilians here have been used by militants as human shields but so far there’s been no evidence of that.”

What Guerin’s obviously inadequate understanding of the term human shields does include is not made apparent to viewers, but she then goes on to describe just such a case – although without expanding on the topic of how 20,000 Hamas terrorists firing well over 3,000 missiles managed to “avoid the cameras” for over a month.

“During this conflict Palestinian militants have kept a low profile, avoiding the cameras. But we know that at times they have operated from civilian areas. A rocket was fired from this waste ground about ten days ago. There was no ceasefire at the time. But you can see that just across the road there are people living in these apartments. These images were filmed by Indian TV just up the road. They appear to show militants firing rockets near their hotel.”

The footage which Guerin tells BBC audiences ‘appears’ to show missile fire from a residential area can be seen here. She continues:

“Hamas is accused of breaking international law by firing its rockets indiscriminately into Israel. Hamas says it’s fighting Israel’s occupation.”

Guerin makes no effort to inform viewers that Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip nine years ago or that what Hamas actually says it is fighting is Israel’s existence. She closes:

“Back in the rubble Salem’s mother is calling on Hamas to avenge her son who was about to graduate from college. The Israeli army told us it cannot verify any of the circumstances in the video but is reviewing the case. It says it does not target civilians in any circumstances.”

But by that time of course, Guerin’s amplification of this ISM story has left its impression on BBC viewers who, in contradiction of BBC editorial guidelines, are still none the wiser with regard to the ideologies of the organisation which made, broke and promoted the video. 

They have no idea, for example, that one of the people involved in producing and publicising the video upon which her report is based is Joe Catron of the ISM who was given equally opaque promotion on the BBC World Service on July 31st when he was interviewed about his role as a human shield at Gaza hospitals. They have no idea that one of Catron’s fellow human shields at Wafa hospital was the 32 year-old optical dispenser from the West Midlands Rina Andolini and that both Catron and Andolini have peviously lied to the media about Hamas’ use of that hospital. Viewers are also not told that Ms Andolini’s activities in the Gaza Strip include distributing aid funded by a British charity called Al-Fatiha Global (featured by the BBC in the past in connection to convoys to Syria) which is currently under investigation by the Charity Commission due to “serious concerns about the governance and financial management of the charity”.

And of course most importantly, as a result of all Guerin’s gross omissions viewers are unable to grasp that what she is actually doing in this report is promoting and amplifying the agenda of an organization which since the early days of the second Intifada has been providing financial, logistic and PR support to terrorist organisations which attack Israeli civilians. That information is obviously critical to viewers if they are to be able to put Guerin’s none too veiled accusations of Israeli ‘war crimes’ into objective perspective.

This report’s serious omissions, however, would suggest that neither Guerin nor her producer were keen to allow BBC audiences the privilege of making up their own minds.  

 

 

 

 

 

BBC reports over ten times fewer post-truce missile hits on Israel than actually occurred

On August 9th James Reynolds produced a filmed report for BBC television news which was also promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Violence resumes is [sic] Gaza as truce comes to an end“. Notably, the fact that the truce was broken by Gaza-based terror organisations and that missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilians for several hours before Israel responded is not reflected in that title.Reynolds Shifa 9 8

The synopsis to that report as it appears on the website inaccurately informs BBC audiences that:

“Five rockets have hit in the south of Israel since the ceasefire came to an end.”

In fact, on August 8th – the day before this report was produced – sixty-one missiles were fired by terrorist groups, thirteen of which fell short endangering the local population in the Gaza Strip. Of the dozens of missiles which did explode in Israel, two caused direct hits on houses in Sderot, fortunately causing no injuries. Earlier in the day three people were injured by a mortar in the Sha’ar HaNegev area.

On August 9th – the day Reynolds produced this report – a total of thirty missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip with five of them falling short. By the time this report was posted on the BBC News website (15:32 BST), missile hits in southern Israel had been as follows: [local times]

07:36: four missiles hit Eshkol, one hit Sdot Negev.

10:05: one missile hit Eshkol.

10:59: three missiles hit Eshkol.

12:25: one missile hit Sdot Negev, one missile hit Eshkol.

15:49: one missile hit Ashkelon, one missile hit Eshkol.

16:54: two missiles hit Eshkol.

In other words, the synopsis to this report understates the number of missile hits on southern Israel after the 72-hour ceasefire was broken by terrorist groups at 04:00 and then expired at 08:00 on August 8th by at least a factor of ten.

Reynolds himself says:

“We know from Israel – Israel’s said that it carried out more than thirty airstrikes overnight and it also says that Palestinian militant groups fired at least five rockets from Gaza towards Israel.”

The Israeli sources which Reynolds cites were presumably referring to the five missiles fired early on the morning of August 9th alone, but that is not adequately clarified in this report. Reynolds goes on to show how the BBC relies on Hamas and Hamas controlled sources:

“We’re still trying to find out from Palestinian health officials how many Palestinian casualties there may have been overnight. We have suggestions from the Palestinian media that some people were hurt or even worse in Nuseirat – that’s in the centre of the Gaza Strip – and also in Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip.”

He goes on to further erase from audience view the fact that Israel agreed to an extension of the truce whilst Gaza Strip terrorist organisations breached it four hours before its end and then refused its renewal.

“So I think it’s clear that the 72-hour – that three-day ceasefire that we saw in the week – is over.”

But later on in his report, Reynolds has something very interesting to say.

“…just to explain where we are; we’re at the Shifa hospital here in the centre of Gaza. When you speak to ordinary people here, they feel that this is about the only safe place that there is in this strip of land – this or the grounds of the other hospitals here – because they believe that Israel will not target hospitals. There are actually some families sleeping outside the hospital – again, they believe that they won’t be hit here….”

In other words, the BBC knows that the ordinary people of Gaza know that Israel will not deliberately target a medical facility (or any other civilian target not used for terrorist purposes) and yet it continues to vigorously promote the myth of the targeting of hospitals in allegations made by its own reporters, in allegations made by selected interviewees and in allegations made by the politically motivated NGO Amnesty International which were amplified in two BBC articles on August 8th.

That certainly demands some explaining.  

 

How did the BBC News website report renewed missile attacks on Israel?

At 08:00 local time on August 8th the 72-hour ceasefire brokered in an attempt to bring an end to the month-long hostilities in Israel and the Gaza Strip expired. Israel had already agreed to its extension but Hamas (contrary to public opinion in the Gaza Strip) officially rejected any continuation of the ceasefire an hour before its end and it had in fact been breached some four hours earlier when terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired two missiles at the Eshkol region at around 04:00. At 08:01 sirens sounded in Ashkelon and the barrage of missile attacks there and elsewhere in Israel resumed. After two and a half hours of intense fire on Israeli villages, towns and cities, Israel announced the resumption of responses to attacks.

So how did the BBC News website cover those events?  The first report to appear on the morning of August 8th was originally titled “Two rockets fired from Gaza despite truce, says Israel” but that headline was subsequently changed to read “Hamas rejects Gaza ceasefire extension” and later still amended to “Gaza ceasefire ends as Israel reports rocket fire“. The report opens:end cf art 1

“Palestinian militant organisation Hamas has rejected any extension of the three-day ceasefire in Gaza, which expired on Friday morning.”

Readers are not told that Israel did agree to extend the truce until the article’s thirteenth paragraph. The fact that missiles had been fired into Israel four hours before the ceasefire officially expired is only briefly mentioned in the report’s tenth paragraph and no effort is made to clarify to readers the very relevant fact that – as the previous 68 hours of quiet showed – Hamas can stop all missile attacks by other factions when it chooses to do so.

“Palestinian militants had already launched two rockets toward Israel three hours before the truce expired, the IDF said. Hamas has denied firing them.”

Part of the report relates to the topic of casualty figures, once again citing “Palestinian officials” without proper clarification of the fact that those officials are actually Hamas functionaries. UN statistics are also presented without transparency regarding their source and the political motivations of the NGOs behind those figures.

“Some 1,940 people have died in four weeks of fighting in Gaza.

Palestinian officials say at least 1,875 people have been killed since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July with the stated aim of halting rocket fire from militants in Gaza and destroying the network of tunnels it said were used by militants to launch attacks inside Israel.

The UN says 1,354 of those who died were civilians, including 415 children and 214 women.”

By the time this report appeared, the BBC had already published its article by Anthony Reuben concerning the need for caution with regard to reported casualty figures from the Gaza Strip. No link to that report or reflection of its content appears alongside the figures presented in this report.

A prominent theme repeated throughout the report is the topic of Hamas demands.

“It [Hamas] said that Israel had failed to meet its demands, including the re-opening of Gaza Harbour to shipping.  […]

A Hamas military wing spokesman earlier called on Palestinian negotiators holding indirect talks with Israeli negotiators in Cairo to refuse any ceasefire extension unless its long-term demands were met. […]

Hamas had been reiterating its calls for the lifting of the blockade of Gaza, the release of prisoners and the end of the Israeli offensive.”

As has been the case in much of the BBC’s recent coverage, audiences are not provided with factual background information regarding the reasons for the implementation of border restrictions by Egypt and Israel and are not told of the implications of any easing of restrictions in terms of the renewed flow of weapons and tunnel-building supplies to the Gaza Strip.

The article closes with amplification of allegations made by Amnesty International.

“On Thursday, the human rights group Amnesty International called for an investigation into what it said was mounting evidence that Israeli forces had deliberately attacked hospitals and health professionals in Gaza. The attacks have left at least six medics dead.”

With the BBC having so far done its utmost to whitewash the topic of Hamas’ use of medical facilities and having failed completely to report on the topic of Hamas’ use of ambulances during the fighting and the role played by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (cited by AI) as both a secondary source for the UN casualty figures cited earlier and an organization engaged in politically motivated delegitimisation of Israel, readers will of course lack the background information necessary in order for them to be able to view Amnesty International’s claims in their correct context.

Those same allegations by Amnesty International were also featured in another BBC News website’s report on August 8th. The fact that (following two and a half hours of incessant missile fire from the Gaza Strip) Israel responded to those attacks, apparently justified a replacement article for the one above with the last-first headline “Israel air strikes resume in Gaza amid rockets“. The opening sentence also puts effect before cause:end cf art 2

“Israel resumed air strikes in Gaza after Palestinian militants fired rockets following the end of a three-day truce on Friday morning.”

Readers have to trudge down to the report’s fourteenth paragraph before they are inaccurately informed that:

“Militants began firing missiles from Gaza shortly before the ceasefire ended at 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT).”

In fact, as noted above, missiles were fired at the Eshkol region at around 04:00 – four hours prior to the ceasefire’s end – not “shortly before” – with the resulting breach of the ceasefire therefore inadequately reported by the BBC.

The crucial information that Israel had agreed to extend the ceasefire is buried in the article’s twenty-second paragraph:

“”Hamas is now continuing to fire towards Israeli civilians, while Israel fully respected the ceasefire and announced it is ready to extend it,” a senior [Israeli] official told the BBC.”

Like its predecessor and many other prior BBC items, this report also presents context-free promotion of Hamas demands.

“The Palestinian militant group Hamas, which dominates Gaza, earlier rejected any extension of the truce, saying Israel had failed to meet its demands.[…]

While Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants live, penned in, barely able to make a living – so the argument goes – why should Israelis just across the fence feel any more secure? [from an insert by Wyre Davies] […]

Hamas said Israel had failed to meet its key demands, including the lifting of the blockade of Gaza and the freeing of about 100 prisoners released in exchange for Gilad Shalit in 2011 who have been re-arrested.”

Likewise, despite the earlier appearance of the BBC’s report by its own statistician on the need to view casualty figures with caution, this article again presents such figures with none of the essential background regarding their sources and no link to that earlier BBC report.

“At least 1,922 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died, according to latest United Nations figures.”

A link is, however, provided to the inaccurate BBC article titled “The hundreds who lost their lives” which was published on the same day.

end cf art insert 2

That article by the BBC News statistician concerning the need for caution regarding casualty figures is looking more like a token piece by the day.

The BBC has yet to provide its audiences with the much-needed comprehensive overview of why border restrictions were put in place in the first place and the grave security implications of Hamas’ demand to lift those restrictions, including the potential rearming of terrorist organisations in preparation for yet more hostilities. Whilst it promotes and amplifies Hamas’ demands, the corporation continues to fail to meet it first obligation to BBC audiences to provide information which will enable them to reach informed opinions on this topic.  

 

Yet more ‘Wafa washing’ on the BBC News website

Of all the hundreds of items of coverage of the events of the last month in Israel and the Gaza Strip which have appeared on the BBC News website (and we’ll be doing the maths soon), this one stands out both for its sheer banality and for doing the exact opposite of the task entrusted to the BBC in its public purpose remit: “build a global understanding of international issues”.

Dated August 4th, the article is titled “Gaza conflict: Contrasting views on targeting” and it opens thus:Wafa doc art

“Several UN-run schools sheltering thousands of Palestinians fleeing from the Gaza conflict have been hit by shelling since the conflict began.

Deliberately targeting civilians who are sheltering in buildings that have no military purpose is illegal under international law.

Israel denies targeting the schools, but has said some of them were hit accidentally.”

If readers were by now anticipating some sort of discussion on the laws of warfare between experts with differing legal opinions or perhaps even an article outlining the complexities of carrying out a military campaign against a terrorist organization which deliberately targets civilians whilst itself embedded within a civilian population, they would be sorely disappointed.

What they got instead were monologues from two people, neither of whom has any discernible legal training: a history student from Israel and a pediatrician from Gaza.

Perusal of the article quickly shows that the Israeli contributor is actually only there to tick the BBC’s impartiality box. The real aim of this article is to once more persuade BBC audiences that Hamas and other terrorist organisations do not turn the local population of the Gaza Strip into human shields, inter alia by using public buildings such as mosques, hospitals and schools as sites from which to launch attacks, to store weapons and as command centres.

Specifically, we find that this article yet again engages in ‘Wafa washing’ – attempts to persuade BBC audiences that al Wafa hospital in the Gaza City neighbourhood of Shuja’iya was not used by Hamas and other terrorist organisations and that Israeli actions there were unjustified, if not violations of the laws of war. Previous examples of that can be seen here and here.

The contributor from Gaza is described thus:

“Yousef Switi, 61, is a Palestinian paediatrician. He works at the El Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital in Gaza that was hit by Israeli rockets in July. He says targeting hospitals and UN shelters is “criminal”.”

Dr Switi’s unchallenged contribution includes the following:

“The Israelis say they have to bomb the hospitals and shelters because there are fighters here, but that is not true. The only people we have are sick people. You never see any fighters or soldiers on the streets.

It’s just not true and yet the rockets keep coming.

Firing on hospitals and schools is inhumane and this is the third time this has happened. Palestinians who have been forced out of their homes by Israeli rockets are not safe in the shelters, you are not safe in the streets.

For those of us who still have homes it is now better to stay at home and wait for the rockets to end your life, either on purpose or accidentally because the Israelis don’t know what they want to target.

How can they win when they have no military targets, it is just civilians they are firing on? We are not attacking anyone.

We have no government here. We never see Hamas, they are not in front of the people, we can’t talk to them or go to them to ask them to stop the fighting.”

When this round of hostilities commenced there were roughly 20,000 members of Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades active in the Gaza Strip. Well over 3,300 missiles have been fired from that territory in four weeks. Cross border attack tunnels which took years to build and used hundreds of tons of concrete were constructed: ten of them alone in the neighbourhood of Shuja’iya where al Wafa hospital is situated. And yet Dr Switi is allowed to tell BBC audiences that “you never see any fighters or soldiers on the streets”.

Shuja'iya map sites

As for Switi’s claims that there were no “fighters” in Wafa hospital; well no matter how many times the BBC tries to push that line, the evidence shows the exact opposite. The video below shows Hamas terrorists firing from al Wafa hospital, along with secondary explosions after it was struck – indicating that weapons and/or explosives were stored there – and the entrance to a tunnel located in the hospital grounds.

Moreover, ample opportunity was given to avoid a strike on al Wafa hospital.

“Hamas transformed Wafa Hospital, a civilian building in the Shuja’iya neighborhood of Gaza City, into a command center, rocket-launching site, observation point, sniper’s post, weapons storage facility, cover for tunnel infrastructure, and a general base for attacks against Israel and IDF forces. Hamas repeatedly opened fire from hospital windows and used anti-tank missiles from the premises. Hamas deliberately and cynically turned the hospital into a legitimate military target.

In response to threat that this posed to IDF forces, the IDF repeatedly conveyed warnings to the hospital staff, Palestinian officials, and international aid organizations, including the World Health Organization, requesting that they act in order to stop the hospital from being used for military purposes, and warning that the IDF will be forced to act if these activities continue. When Hamas’ activities did not cease, already in the first week of the operation, the IDF repeatedly spoke with all of the relevant parties and warned all civilians to leave.” [emphasis added]

The BBC’s interviewee Dr Switi, however, miraculously saw and heard nothing.

Instead of accurately and impartially informing its audiences of what really happened in Shuja’iya in general and at al Wafa hospital specifically – including showing them filmed evidence which has been available in the public domain for two weeks already – the BBC continues to facilitate the promotion of Hamas propaganda.

Moreover, the BBC cynically co-opts the language of “international law” as a prelude to an article which is just its latest contribution to the politically motivated lawfare campaign currently underway. The statement in this article’s opening lines – “Deliberately targeting civilians who are sheltering in buildings that have no military purpose is illegal under international law” – has no purpose but to raise in the mind of the reader that such a scenario may have taken place. That statement is followed by “Israel denies targeting the schools, but has said some of them were hit accidentally”, with absolutely no information provided to readers regarding the legal issues associated with the placement of military targets in or near civilian facilities such as schools – as documented below by France 24

Those interested in reading some real legal opinions on the topic of Operation Protective Edge and international law – rather than the BBC’s selective amateur interpretations – will find this article helpful. For example:

“Any target being used for military purposes may be attacked (even if it is used for both military and civilian purposes), subject to the principle of proportionality as set forth below. Accordingly, a mosque being used to store weapons is a legitimate target during combat, provided that there is convincing evidence that the mosque is being used for a clear military purpose that is aiding Hamas.”

And:

“Even when there is a chance that citizens will be injured as a result of military action, there is no absolute prohibition against taking such action, as long as the target being attacked is a legitimate military target. The prohibition against such an attack applies only when the collateral damage to civilians is likely to be excessive in relation to the anticipated direct military advantage of destroying the military objective.”

This article is but one example of many to have appeared in the last few weeks illustrating the way in which the BBC’s self-conscription to a political campaign has been allowed to trump its obligations to its funders.  

BBC WS presenter: filmed evidence of Hamas’ misuse of hospitals is ‘rumours on the internet’

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is – as readers are most likely aware – an organisation which since the early days of the second Intifada has been providing financial, logistic and PR support to terrorist organisations which attack Israeli civilians.

One of the ISM’s activists currently located in the Gaza Strip is American Joe Catron who has been very busy in the past three weeks giving interviews to the Iranian regime-run Press TV, putting out propaganda material and acting as a voluntary human shield. Catron’s “standpoint” can be discerned very easily from his use of social media.

Tweet Catron

 

As readers also know, the BBC’s editorial guidelines oblige it to inform audiences of an interviewee’s “standpoint” so that his or her contribution can be understood in its correct context. However, when the BBC World Service’s Dam Damon interviewed Joe Catron for the July 31st edition of ‘World Update’ (available here for a limited period of time from around 43:21, or here as a separately promoted podcast), he failed to inform listeners that Catron is a member of the Hamas-supporting ISM and made no attempt whatsoever to “summarise” his “standpoint” with the result being that listeners were subjected to over three and a half minutes of undiluted Hamas propaganda, supposedly from a ‘neutral’ source.World Update Catron

Catron was introduced by Damon thus:

“Nine foreigners are in Gaza’s main hospital al Shifa. They are volunteering as human shields. They take turns sitting in the wards on 12 hour shifts. They think that their presence will help deter military attacks by Israeli forces. Other hospitals have human shields – so called human shields – as well. I’ve been speaking to one of these at al Shifa. He’s Joe Catron – 33 years old. The line wasn’t great. I think you’ll be able to hear though everything that is in Joe’s mind. Here’s what he told me.”

Catron: “In terms of aerial assaults they’ve gotten very close. Ahm…the other night I was here for the overnight shift from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and there were repeated airstrikes all around the building. I stepped outside. I could see flares as well as smoke coming from a short distance away. In terms of the ground invasion they haven’t pushed that close.”

Damon: “And has the hospital been hit at all?”

Catron: “The hospital has been hit peripherally. Ah…one wall was damaged by a shell the other day. I think there were a couple of injuries from that but it has not been targeted per se.”

Damon: “Because you will know that there have been all kinds of rumours on the internet about hospitals being used to hide men and indeed weapons. Any evidence?”

Catron: “Oh yes; I’ve heard all these…all kinds of these rumours. I’ve seen numerous claims that al Wafa hospital where I stayed for a week in Shuja’iya was the centre of a Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant command centre. Now every journalist that came into the hospital from every major news agency had full run of the place. They could go anywhere in it they liked. How none of them ever noticed this command centre…. Shifa as well is thick with reporters at the moment and I’ve seen no reports of anything like that from any of them.”

Damon: “Are you making a difference being there as a human shield?”

Catron: “You know, that’s difficult to say. Obviously the operational logic is that Israel is much more reluctant to target foreigners than it is Palestinians. Now it’s difficult to say. Ahm… I had a number of expectations at the beginning of this escalation about how far the Israelis were willing to go and what they were willing to do. They’ve already proven a number of those expectations wrong. So how safe we are here and how much of a deterrent we offer, I can’t offer a firm answer to that. All we can do is sit and hope.”

Damon: “Do you have any understanding of Israel’s position that the rockets are flying from Gaza, err…those rockets are intended to kill civilians, they’re entitled to respond?”

Catron: “Well I think it’s very clear looking at the outcomes who intends to kill civilians. Israel has now killed over a thousand of them while Hamas has targeted its attacks on Israeli soldiers and it’s been doing fairly well on that front considering the circumstances.”

Damon: “I guess you don’t mean to deny that the rockets fired by Hamas are targeting civilian areas inside Israel?”

Catron: “Well, Israel places many of its military assets in civilian neighbourhoods. The headquarters of the Israeli military is located in a large civilian block of buildings in Tel Aviv. Ahm…but Hamas has always made it clear that its rockets are aimed at these military assets. [unintelligible] also knowledge is that they’re unfortunately imprecise.”

Damon: “What about the people back home, Joe? Don’t they think that you’re being foolhardy?”

Catron: “I’m sure some of them do and they may have a point. [Damon laughs] Ahm…they’re a mix of course. America has a broad range of opinions.”

Damon: “What about your family?”

Catron: “Ahm…they’re a political mix when it comes to the situation. You would hear various perspectives from them.”

Damon closes the item by saying:

“That’s Joe Catron; described as a human shield at the al Shifa hospital in Gaza.”

So what did World Service radio audiences learn here and did anything in this interview contribute to fulfilling the BBC’s obligation according to its constitutional document to “build a global understanding of international issues”?

Well, they discovered that the BBC considers filmed and photographed evidence of the discovery of weapons, missiles, explosives and tunnel entrances in at least one hospital in the Gaza Strip to be “rumours on the internet”.

They got to hear the BBC provide a platform for Joe Catron’s obviously dishonest claim that Wafa hospital was not used by Hamas for military purposes and his promotion of the notion that the hospital in which he is currently located – Shifa – is not used by Hamas either. That of course is especially ridiculous in light of the fact that the BBC has interviewed at least one member of Hamas at that location.

Audiences also discovered – for the second time in two days – that not only has the BBC no intention of informing them about what really went on at Wafa hospital in Shuja’iya, but that it will actively hinder that information from coming to light, along with any other documentation of the use of civilians in Gaza as human shields.

They were also misled by Catron’s assertion that the foreign media in Gaza is able to report freely and that there cannot be any Hamas abuses of hospitals because the foreign media has not reported them. Increasingly, evidence coming out of the Gaza Strip shows that claim to be patently untrue. 

Listeners were exposed to Catron’s unchallenged and inaccurate assertion that over one thousand civilians have been killed in the Gaza Strip.

They were misled with regard to the civilian targets of Hamas missiles as Catron spouted propaganda straight from the Hamas handbook claiming that it targets military installations.

Clearly, the broadcasting of this interview with a Hamas supporter fails to contribute anything to the fulfilment of the BBC’s public purposes and the fact that his “standpoint” and affiliations were not declared to listeners breaches editorial guidelines.

No less worrying for the BBC should be the fact that it has rendered itself utterly indistinguishable from the Iranian regime’s media mouthpiece which Joe Catron usually frequents.

 

 

The curious case of a dual-identity BBC interviewee in Gaza

On July 29th a filmed report by Chris Morris which appeared on BBC television news was also posted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Middle East crisis: BBC at Gaza mosque ruins“.Morris mosque report 29 7

Morris opens his report:

“This is a mosque in Gaza City which people who live in this area say it was hit at least twice during the night. A lot of mosques have been targeted in Gaza since this Israeli aerial campaign began. The Israelis say there were 60 airstrikes overnight and there’s certainly been more this morning. We’ve seen mosques targeted. We’ve seen security buildings. Earlier on we were just down by the Gaza port where fishermen’s huts had been hit as well.”

Morris does not provide us with the name or precise location of the mosque from which he reports and so it is impossible to check the circumstances of his story. He does, however, take care to stress no fewer than three times that mosques are being “targeted” in Gaza – but makes no attempt to explain to audiences why that might be the case.

The film below – showing the entrances to Hamas tunnels located inside a mosque – provides the type of context which Morris conceals from BBC viewers.  Mosques have also been found to be storing weapons, missiles and explosives.

Morris continues:

“And the overwhelming mood in Gaza is becoming one of defiance, even among people who don’t support Hamas, and Hamas’ political popularity was probably falling before this Israeli bombardment began. But faced with this kind of thing, people tend to come together.”

Interestingly, this theme of a supposed rise in the popularity of Hamas is being found more and more in BBC reporting from the Gaza Strip in recent days.  What BBC audiences have not seen, however, is any BBC investigation into reports of summary executions carried out by Hamas of people deemed ‘collaborators’ or any attempt to interview people who do not support Hamas.

The rest of Morris’ report is devoted to an interview with a man described in the synopsis on the website version as follows:

“Following the overnight strikes, Chris Morris met defiant citizen Nasman Al-Ashi, who said that the world was failing Gaza.”

Morris mosque report al ashi

Mr al Ashi says:

“It’s just unbelievable what they’re doing. They lost their mind. They don’t have any targets to target but worship place. And whatever claim they have is baseless. They just losing the war. Anybody who’s acting by targeting worshipping places, that mean he lost the war. And we who live in dignity and free or we all die. I mean the children. They see the children; they’re coming. They’re not accepting what’s happening. The Israelis are mad and they’re doing it with impunity. In front of the whole free world and the free world is watching and they’re approving their action by not reacting to what they’re doing; they’re approving it.”

Morris: “So the world is failing Gaza?”

Al Ashi: “It’s failing us. The world is failing and the leader of the world – even the US, England, France, Russia, all the Arab worlds – they’re just puppets. They’re following their pocket and the money. But here in Gaza as small as it is, we’re defying the world and we tell the world that we either live free or we die here.”

Morris: “But however disproportionate this is, what do you think of the argument that if Hamas stopped firing rockets into Israel…”

Al Ashi [interrupts]: “No! No! This is not an argument. We…we’ve been blockade for the last seven years. Don’t talk to me about rockets that is so tiny small. Look at this. Look at this. This is not sense argument. It’s not sense. We didn’t start it. They started it and they’ve been…In the 2008 agreement they have fulfilled nothing. 2012 they have fulfilled nothing. So why should we believe that this time ceasefire… they say – hey, let’s negotiate. Negotiation with the Israeli is waste of time.”

Viewers are not informed how Chris Morris came across the “defiant citizen Nasman Al-Ashi”, but one part of his context-free rant piqued this writer’s curiosity:

“…even the US, England, France, Russia, all the Arab worlds – they’re just puppets. They’re following their pocket and the money.”

The obvious antisemitic undertones of that comment echo another interview done by the BBC’s Paul Adams earlier on in the month in which the interviewee used a Nazi analogy. The name of that interviewee was Basman Al Ashi and he was presented as the director of Wafa hospital.

Michigan-trained Dr Basman Al Ashi has been appearing quite a lot in the Western ‘progressive’ media and blogs lately, not infrequently in efforts to try to spin the fact that after Paul Adams’ interview with him (during which Adams stressed that “Israel says rockets have been fired from Basman al-Ashi’s hospital, a charge his staff deny completely”), the hospital under his directorship was found to house the entrance to a Hamas attack tunnel leading into Israeli territory and was also used as a Hamas command and control centre, a weapons storage site, a missile launching site and a sniper post.

Here is a picture of Dr Basman Al Ashi in his hospital.

Morris mosque al ashi 2

Unless, several decades ago, Mrs Al Ashi gave birth to identical twin boys and named them Nasman and Basman, it would appear that Chris Morris’ “defiant citizen” – whom he implies in his introduction is one of the people in Gaza who “don’t support Hamas” – is actually none other than the man who allowed Hamas to spend years digging a tunnel from the hospital under his authority and to turn it into a military facility – and who is now busy giving interviews in an effort to cover up that blatant use of helpless patients as human shields.

If that is the case, then obviously the BBC has some serious questions to answer regarding the misrepresentation of Dr Al Ashi as an ordinary man in the street. It would also be interesting to know how Morris met Mr Al Ashi in the first place. Were his interview services provided to the BBC by a local stringer or by Hamas itself? Why did the BBC not notice that it had interviewed the same man under a different name and description only eleven days earlier? Or – if the BBC was aware of Al Ashi’s identity – why did Morris not take the opportunity to tell BBC audiences what really happened at Wafa hospital and to correct at long last the obviously inaccurate and misleading report put out by Paul Adams? And why did Morris not question Al Ashi about his distinctly unprofessional collaboration with Hamas in turning his severely disabled patients into human shields?  

Finally, of course, there is the not insignificant matter of the now repeated failure to edit out antisemitic remarks in BBC interviews; an issue which also clearly requires some very urgent answers. 

The reality behind the BBC’s promotion of information from medics in Gaza

As was noted here a few days ago, on July 15th the BBC’s Yolande Knell (perhaps inadvertently) documented the use of the Shifa hospital in Gaza City as a hideout for the Hamas top brass. Other journalists have reported on that topic too and of course the bottom line is that staff and patients of a civilian medical facility (as well as visiting journalists) are being exploited by a terrorist organisation as human shields, with or without the consent of that hospital’s management.Shifa hospital

In addition to the fact that the BBC has failed to adequately clarify the issue of human shields in Shifa hospital (or anywhere else) to audiences – numerous items of BBC content have been produced in that hospital over the past two weeks – obviously with the approval of its management – and various doctors have been interviewed, quoted and presented to BBC audiences as credible witnesses of the situation in Gaza. Examples include:

A BBC television news filmed report by Yolande Knell from July 8th.

Two filmed reports by Jeremy Bowen for BBC television news on July 11th.

A BBC World Service radio report by Lyse Doucet on July 20th in which a doctor promoted the unchallenged notion of a “massacre” in Shuja’iya.

A BBC World Service ‘Newshour’ interview with Dr Belal Dabour on July 21st which also allows unhindered promotion of the notion of a “massacre” in Shuja’iya.

Perhaps rather surprisingly in the current circumstances, Dr Dabour seems to have quite a bit of spare time in which to talk to the BBC – see for example here and here.

Now of course BBC audiences hearing, reading or watching an interview with a doctor will naturally presume that they are being given an accurate, impartial, apolitical and professionally neutral view of the situation. In the Gaza Strip, however, that is not necessarily the case – as has been documented by the ‘Warped Mirror’ blog here and here. And it is particularly not the case in Shifa hospital where, on July 20th, a journalist with ABC witnessed the following reaction from ‘humanitarian’ staff to the false claim by Hamas that it had kidnapped an Israeli soldier.

Tweet Doctors Shifa

But it is not only local doctors in the Gaza Strip whose presentation of supposedly professional observations – in fact underpinned by political motives – are facilitated by the BBC. On July 20th the BBC reached what is unfortunately not a new low by promoting and quoting none other than the infamous Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert in inserts by Yolande Knell featured in two separate written articles – see here and here.

Knell Mads Gilbert

Readers may recall Gilbert’s propaganda efforts during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/9. Now the doctor who thinks the 9/11 terror attacks were justified is back in Shifa hospital, promoting the same political messaging to the media under the guise of a ‘medical opinion’ – remarkably and controversially, with recommendation from another source of ‘impartial’ information frequently promoted by the BBC – UNWRA.

BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality clearly state:

“We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”

So far, in nearly two weeks of reporting, we have not seen even one attempt by the BBC’s journalists in Gaza to adhere to those guidelines by alerting audiences to the Hamas connections and/or sympathy for terrorism of medical personnel they present to audiences as ‘credible’ sources.  

BBC’s Paul Adams amplifies Nazi analogy in coverage of Gaza ground op

One of several BBC journalists ‘parachuted in’ to the region recently in order to cover Operation Protective Shield is Paul Adams – usually based in London as a World Affairs correspondent.OP PE Adams vers 1

On July 18th the BBC News website published an article by Adams initially titled “Gaza casualties mount amid Israeli ground campaign” but later renamed “Hospital on Gaza conflict’s front line”. In his fourth paragraph Adams adheres to what has been standard BBC practice since the beginning of its reporting on this operation: the quotation and promotion of figures supplied by the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza without any qualifying statement regarding the fact that they have not been independently verified by the BBC and with no attempt made to distinguish between civilian and combatant casualty figures.

“But a new phase of operations inevitably brought a new wave of casualties – more than 20 dead, according to Gaza’s ministry of health. Among them at least three more children.”

Depending on the time at which Adams wrote those words, he should of course have pointed out to BBC audiences that at least fourteen terrorists were among the casualties on the first day of Israel’s ground operation.

A considerable proportion of Adams’ report relates to the Wafa rehabilitation hospital in the Shuja’iyeh neighbourhood of Gaza City which, incidentally, also accommodated members of the International Solidarity Movement with the staff’s knowledge and consent, although Adams refrains from mentioning that fact. 

“I found the patients and staff from the Wafa rehabilitation hospital sheltering in a Gaza City clinic.

The Wafa has been hit repeatedly in the past week. It’s close to the border and very close to some of the latest Israeli military activity.

Basman al-Ashi, the hospital’s executive director, said everything seemed quiet on Thursday night, until shelling intensified in the hours before troops entered the Gaza Strip.

With artillery rounds hitting the hospital once more, Basman decided to evacuate everyone.”

Leaflet distributed in Gaza Strip 16/7/14

Leaflet distributed in Gaza Strip 16/7/14

In fact, the hospital’s staff were directly alerted to the need to evacuate the premises by the IDF on the evening of July 15th –47 hours before the ground operation commenced – even according to B’Tselem.  General warnings were also issued to residents of that neighbourhood and others on the morning of July 16th. Contrary to the impression which readers receive from Adams’ report, the actual reason for the evacuation warning was the presence of terrorist infrastructure located near to the hospital.

Perhaps unwittingly, Adams provides evidence of the practice of locating weapons stores and missile launchers in the vicinity of medical facilities and other civilian structures when he goes on to write:

“As he recalled the scene, surrounded by his evacuated patients, two deafening salvoes of rockets took off from somewhere very close by – rockets fired by fighters from Hamas or one of the other armed factions.” [emphasis added]

No attempt is of course made by Adams to clarify to BBC audiences the legal significance of the practice he witnessed and he later goes on to deliberately mislead audiences by writing:

“Israel says rockets have been fired from Basman al-Ashi’s hospital, a charge his staff deny completely.”

Significantly, he does not ask the hospital’s director about the actual situation – i.e. that areas near the hospital have been used for the purposes of terrorism.

Adams does, however, take the opportunity to promote and amplify the hospital director’s use of a Nazi analogy.Op pe Adams vers 2

“Basman’s eyes closed for a moment in weary resignation, but opened wide in defiance when I suggested the actions of Hamas might simply make matters worse.

“It’s a very natural response for the Palestinians to respond, to defend themselves,” he insisted.

Israel, he said, had made “a concentration camp of 1.8 million people”.

“No air. No land. No sea. You’re trying to tell the people what? I’m putting you in prison and I want you to obey, eat, sleep and that’s it. We’re human.” ” [emphasis added]

One of the definitions of antisemitism according to the EUMC working definition is:

“Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

Even if that is what an executive director of a Gaza hospital with close links to the ISM actually said, there is no justification and no excuse for the BBC’s amplification and propagation of Nazi analogies.

It would have been helpful to BBC audiences’ understanding of the reality of the situation had Adams bothered to explain to readers that – contrary to al Ashi’s inaccurate claim – Israeli policy concerning the Gaza Strip is the result of the terrorism perpetrated by Hamas and other groups rather than the other way round. However, it is perfectly clear that Paul Adams did not set out in this article to provide BBC audiences with accurate and impartial information which really would enhance their “understanding of international issues“.