Did RTBF ‘misinform’ Gaza hospital explosion as Israel’s doing?

This Tuesday, October 17, at 7:12 p.m., thirteen minutes after the explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza, the AFP alert came from journalists in the editor’s office that evening. An AFP alert is the most urgent piece of news that can come in and needs to “alert” the editorial staff as soon as possible that something important is happening.

For such important information, AFP journalists cannot cross-reference all the elements to write dozens of lines in a few minutes. Warnings, by definition, are just one line without a header. International web editorial offices and AFP are used to these types of events (Monday’s attack in Brussels is another example), adding to the minutes, hours and days when information is generated and available. .

So at 7:12pm, the AFP alert to RTBF:

Gaza: At least 200 killed in Israeli attack on hospital compound (Hamas).

AFP Alert, Tuesday 17 October 2023, 7:12 pm

In parentheses means the source of this information is Hamas. Elements of information (death toll, author of the strike or even the explosion) cannot be confirmed by the AFP. So the AFP indicates the source: Hamas so the editorial staff knows that this is not information cross-checked by the AFP on three different sources as a rule of thumb.

As for international editorial teams, it is difficult for AFP to verify these elements with the few journalists on site. Nevertheless, the information is considered reliable to a certain extent: Israel has actually been carrying out attacks in the Gaza Strip for several days, so the strike may have emanated from Israel.

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Eleven minutes later, at 7:23 p.m., AFP added this warning with some additional elements, indicating in the headline: “Gaza: At least 200 killed in Israeli attack on hospital compound (Hamas).“. Hamas is always cited as the sole source of this information. The text accompanying this headline follows.

At least 200 people were killed in an Israeli attack on a hospital complex in Gaza City. The Palestinian Authority’s ruling Hamas health ministry said on Tuesday.

In a press release, he announced that “200 to 300 martyrs” had been killed in the blast that hit the Ahli Arab Hospital complex in the city center, not mentioning that “hundreds of victims were in the rubble.” dead or injured.

In the title, as in the text, AFP indicates the source. This speech, verbatim, will be broadcast live on RTBF at 7:29 pm. Why exactly? First, no other additional information is available at this time. Then, the agreement between the editorial offices and the AFP indicates that the client editorial offices can publish their submissions as is, and therefore must be ethically inviolable. This means that all information is cross-referenced or sourced through three different sources.

However, to the extent that this information comes from Hamas, it may be added that it should be read with caution.

Over the next two hours, several news reports continued to fall on the subject. That averages out to one every four minutes, as shown in the screenshot of our dispatch feed (although for this article, it’s already sorted with the keyword “hospital”). An unordered stream is sent multiple times per minute.

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