BBC international editor Jeremy Bowen tried to explain the network’s coverage of an explosion at a Gaza hospital on October 17th in an interview on his own network. Reports on the incident have varied on who was responsible for the blast.
The explosion at the Al-Ahli hospital has been blamed on both Israel and a misfire by Hamas, and the reports on casualties has been equally murky.
U.S., Israeli, and other countries’ intelligence agencies claim the explosion at the hospital was likely an Islamic Jihad rocket misfire. Others have said the magnitude of the explosion exceeded Hamas capabilities, and point to an Israeli online post in the immediate aftermath that was quickly removed.
Appearing on BBC News channel’s Behind The Stories on Saturday, Bowen admitted to errors in his coverage, but said he “doesn’t regret one thing” about his report.
“The missile hit the hospital not long after dark. You can hear the impact. The explosion destroyed Al-Ahli Hospital. It was already damaged from a smaller attack at the weekend. The building was flattened,” Bowen reported live on air during BBC One’s News at Ten within hours of the initial reports.
After playing sound from the report, a BBC journalist asked Bowen about that report.
“The BBC was criticized heavily for its reporting of that event. Tell us what happened that night. And, you know, bluntly, where were you getting your information? And do you regret anything that you said that night?” Bowen was asked.
“So it broke in, I suppose, mid-evening. And to answer your question, no, I don’t regret one thing in my reporting, because I think I think I was measured throughout. I didn’t race to judgment,” he replied.
“But you said that building had been flattened,” the interviewer countered.
“Oh, yeah. Well, I got that wrong because I was looking at the pictures and what I could see was a square that appeared to be flaming on all sides. And there was a, you know, sort of a void in the middle. And it was I think it was a picture taken from a drone. And so, you know, we have to piece together what we see. And I thought, well, it looks like whole buildings gone. And that was my conclusion from looking at the pictures. And I was wrong on that. But I don’t feel too bad about that,” Bowen replied.
The BBC offered a correction of its reporting on the hospital explosion on October 19th for speculating Israel was behind the blast. The network later added an apology to its correction on the 24th.