BBC director-general apologises to MPs over incorrect Gaza hospital broadcast

Tim Davie addressed the influential 1922 committee, where members stepped up pressure on the broadcaster to label Hamas 'terrorists'


LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 28: BBC Director-General Tim Davie looks during a visit by Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at the BBC World Service offices on April 28, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

BBC director-general Tim Davie has apologised to MPs after the broadcaster incorrectly speculated that the IDF attacked a hospital in Gaza, it is understood.

Davie addressed the influential 1922 committee, which consists of backbench Tory MPs, on Wednesday evening, following weeks of criticism over the corporation's coverage of the Israel-Hamas war.

Last Tuesday evening, the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry immediately claimed an explosion at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza had been caused by an Israeli airstrike. Within minutes, that claim was being widely reported globally without verification. Israel subsequently claimed the explosion had likely been caused by a rocket fired from inside Gaza, providing video footage and images to support this claim.

Reporting the incident just after 8pm on BBC News, correspondent Jon Donnison speculated that the IDF was to blame.

“It’s hard to see what else this could be really, given the size of the explosion, other than an Israeli airstrike or several airstrikes," he said.

Conservative Friends of Israel Parliamentary Chair Stephen Crabb is said to have asked the Davie if he "shared a measure of responsibility" for the antisemitism faced by Jews in the UK following the broadcast.

Davie apologised for the mistake but said all news organisations initially ran with the claims, The Sun reported.

The director-general also faced criticism from immigration minister Robert Jenrick, who reportedly told Davie he had “never been so disappointed” in the BBC.

“I worry that the organisation has lost the confidence of many people and in particular the British Jewish community," Jenrick said, according to The Telegraph.

“That loss of confidence began with the BBC’s refusal to call Hamas terrorists. Will you reconsider that and change your editorial policy?”

Davie is said to have defended the BBC's current policy in response, which is to report that Hamas is recognised as a terror group by the UK government.

One MP reportedly received a round of applause as she told Davie the national broadcaster must refer to Hamas fighters as "terrorists".

A BBC spokesman said Davie's grilling by the 1922 had been arranged in July, and was not a response to recent coverage.

The broadcaster has faced widespread condemnation since October 7 over its use of the word "militants" to describe members of the terror group Hamas.

Last week, Davie told the Board of Deputies the corporation would change its policy on the term.

A BBC spokesperson said: "What the BBC does not do is use the word 'terrorist' without attributing it, nor do we ban words.

"We also confirmed that for some days we had not been using ‘militant’ as a default description for Hamas, as we have been finding this a less accurate description for our audiences as the situation evolves.”

On Sunday, former Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett claimed the BBC lacked "moral clarity".

“You only care about one side, that is the BBC way," he told presenter Victoria Derbyshire.

"If you think there is a balance here between two equal sides then you are lacking moral clarity."

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