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Broadcaster Faults Israel for Terrorist Rockets Preventing Urgent Cancer Care

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avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue


A Palestinian man checks destroyed houses, which were damaged in an Israeli strike during Israel-Gaza fighting, after a ceasefire was agreed between Palestinian factions and Israel, in Deir Al-Balah, central Gaza Strip May 14, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

As Palestinian Islamic Jihad stepped up its rocket attacks against Israel last week, the BBC was busy cooking up a new angle from which to cover the conflict: how to apportion blame for cancer patients dying in Gaza.

In “Gaza cancer patients face life-threatening treatment delays,” the British broadcaster’s Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell and reporter Rushdi Abualouf reported on the “mounting humanitarian situation” in the Hamas-ruled enclave, specifically that approximately 200 cancer patients who were unable to leave for urgent treatment.

The reason for the delays in providing care to sick Gazans is offered in the third paragraph:

Israel controls two crossings with Gaza — used for people and goods — which have been closed since the start of its military operation on Tuesday.

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With no further context or explanation added, the suggestion is that Israel decided to cut off and further isolate the Gaza Strip for no other reason than sheer malevolence.

Building on this insinuation, the BBC quotes at length a British surgeon and humanitarian worker who warns of potential deaths as a result of delays, and a Palestinian cancer sufferer who explains that he was unable to travel to Ramallah for treatment due to the closure of the Erez crossing into Israel.

However, it is only at the very end of the story — in the final three paragraphs of 31 — that readers are told why Israel was forced to close the crossings: Islamic Jihad terrorists were repeatedly firing rockets at them.

Indeed, the BBC actually references a video clip showing one such mortar attack on the Erez crossing, but even then seeks to cast doubt on the event by describing the footage as merely showing what the Israeli defense ministry “said” is CCTV of the blast.

The outlet’s uneven reportage is further evident when compared to a similar story published one day before by Reuters, “Gaza cancer patients miss treatment as Israel border shut amid fighting.”

Unlike the BBC, Reuters managed not to bury the fact that the “constant threat of Palestinian rocket fire” was the reason behind the crossing closures, in addition to making it crystal clear that both Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on Gaza citing the exact same security concerns.

It should also be noted that in the BBC’s rush to point the finger at Israel over the unfolding medical crisis in the Strip, the outlet fails to mention who is actually responsible for providing treatment to sick Gazans — Hamas.

Unfortunately, the Islamist terror group prefers to spend much of its vast aid budget on rockets rather than investing in critical infrastructure and services for civilians.

Lastly, the entire article gives readers the mistaken impression that the ability to provide critical care in Gaza is severely compromised as a result of Israeli actions.

However, as recently revealed by HonestReporting, allegations of some kind of Palestinian “medical apartheid” are belied by statistics that show that the West Bank and Gaza actually outperform many countries in the region when measured according to United Nations’ health goals.

For example, the Palestinian cancer incidence and mortality rates are comparable or even lower than in some Western nations, including Israel.

But when has the BBC ever let facts get in the way of blaming Israel?

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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