BBC reporter who incorrectly reported Gaza hospital blast had got facts wrong before

Jon Donnison shared a photo of a child injured in Gaza only to find the snap was taken in Syria


A BBC journalist who wrongly suggested Israel was behind last week’s Gaza hospital blast had previously caused outrage by presenting a picture of an injured Syrian girl as a “heartbreaking” image of a Palestinian child hurt in an Israeli attack.

The BBC is being urged to take further action against Jon Donnison, who has worked for the corporation for 15 years. In November 2012, he shared a picture of a young girl lying on a hospital bed with bloodied clothes, whichhad been taken in Syria.

Posting on X/Twitter, he captioned the image with the words: “Heartbreaking. Pain in #Gaza’.” The original photograph was posted by Palestinian journalist Hazem Balousha.

After realising his mistake, Donnison apologised for the post and said: “A photo I retweeted from another journo showing injured children was not in Gaza as I said but apparently from Syria. Apologies.”

A BBC spokesperson said at the time: “Jon Donnison retweeted the photograph in good faith. He issued a correction and apologised as soon as he learned that the picture was not from Gaza.”

But last week, Donnison wrongly suggested Israeli forces were responsible for a blast on the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza on on October 17.

Reporting the attack on BBC News, he said: “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.”

Lord Carlile, the UK’s former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, told the JC: “We rely on the BBC for accurate reporting. Twice the journalist concerned has produced major stories which were contradicted by the evidence.

“This is plainly a situation requiring clear and transparent action by the BBC.”

Hadar Sela, co-editor of CAMERA UK, questioned why the BBC “was sending Donnison to the region again”, stressing the corporation needed to “urgently examine or review” the move.

Veteran Israeli journalist Gil Hoffman, who heads the pro-Israel media watchdog Honest Reporting, said “the BBC made a terrible mistake” by returning Donnison to the region.

Jonathan Munro, the deputy chief executive of BBC News, later acknowledged that the broadcaster’s “language wasn’t quite right”.

The IDF said the blast was caused by a misfired rocket from Palestinian Islamic Jihad and released imagery and communications intercepts supporting their case.

Donnison, who is currently the BBC’s Sydney Correspondent, was apparently despatched urgently to the Middle East to cover the current conflict.

The BBC declined to comment.

Also this week, ITV News apologised for interviewing a journalist who had described the Hamas attacks as a “homecoming by the Palestinian resistance” in a report for the Iranian regime channel Press TV.

She also posted a clip on the day of the Hamas atrocities in which she said: “Nothing will ever be able to take back this moment. This moment of triumph, this moment of resistance, this moment of surprise, this moment of humiliation on behalf of the Zionist entity. Nothing ever.”

ITV presented Latifa Abouchakra as a London-based Palestinian. In the interview screened on Monday, she claimed she had been a victim of Islamophobia.

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