Guest On Episode Of CBC ‘Front Burner’ Podcast Accuses Israel Of Deliberately Targeting Ambulances, Downplays Hamas Presence In Gaza

More than three months into the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel, much of the narrative in the mainstream news media has been focusing on the human cost of the war, particularly in the Gaza Strip. While such attention is valid and worthwhile, it can easily become a vehicle for groundless anti-Israel disinformation.

That is exactly what took place in a recent edition of Front Burner, a CBC podcast. In a segment which aired January 9, “Life and death at a Gaza hospital,” host Daemon Fairless interviewed Anas Al-Kassem, a Hamilton-based physician who had traveled to Gaza in late 2023 to work in local hospitals.

Listen to the podcast below:

Over the course of the 22-minute interview, the pair discussed Al-Kassem’s work in the coastal enclave, but in multiple instances, the conversation veered into outright falsehoods targeting Israel.

Early in the segment, Fairless told listeners that “The death toll reported by the Gaza Health Ministry has surpassed 23,000. The injured are well over twice that, and the majority of them are women and children.” Fairless failed to explain that the “Gaza Health Ministry” is under the control of Hamas, hardly a reputable organization.

He also opted not to attribute Hamas to the claim that the majority of casualties in Gaza are women and children.

During the conversation, Al-Kassem said that “any ambulance (that) would be moving, it’s a target by the Israeli forces,” in a statement entirely without merit. Not only is there no evidence that Israel targets ambulances, Hamas has used ambulances for the transportation of its terrorists.

Neither Al-Kassem nor Fairless informed listeners of this point.

Later, Fairless reminded listeners about Gaza’s Shefa hospital, saying that “Israel, along with U.S. intelligence, said that the hospital is being used as a Hamas command centre,” but concluded the update by saying that “a detailed analysis by the Washington Post came out determining that there wasn’t really strong evidence of that.”

While a December article in The Washington Post argued that evidence “falls short” of definitely proving Hamas’ use of the hospital as a command centre, subsequent updates from U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed Hamas’ use of Shefa, according to a January 2 report in The New York Times.

When pressed for comment, Al-Kassem cast doubt on the very existence of Hamas terrorists at all, telling Fairless that “I’ve never seen even fighters, to be honest with you. I’ve never seen fighters as injured coming to me. They were all civilians from the nearby area.”

Prior to the current war, Hamas’ total number of active fighters was estimated to be around 40,000, or one in every 57 people, reflecting just the group’s “military wing” alone, and Hamas terrorists dress as civilians so as to blend in with the wider population.

As such, it would be near impossible for Al-Kassem to know who is a “fighter” or who is a civilian based on their dress alone, particularly since the Islamic terrorist group uses children as young as 14 as fighters, and Fairless should have challenged his guest. Regrettably, he did not.

Near the end of the interview, Al-Kassem told Fairless that “There’s a blockade on medical supplies, medical aid, humanitarian aid” in Gaza, a demonstrable falsehood. As many as 200 trucks filled with humanitarian aid enter Gaza every day, though many are actively seized by Hamas terrorists.

However, many of these trucks have been seized by Hamas, an open secret that appears to be widely known throughout Gaza’s population. On December 6, an elderly Palestinian woman in Gaza was interviewed by Al Jazeera where she lambasted Hamas for stealing aid, saying “Hamas takes everything to their homes,” and that “all the aid goes…underground.”

Not once did Fairless challenge his guest or point out the falsehoods being peddled by Al-Kassem. On December 15, Fairless did virtually the same, interviewing a Palestinian staffer of Oxfam based in Ramallah, who portrayed a health catastrophe in Gaza but never once mentioned Hamas’ theft of aid.

As for Al-Kassem, his visit to Gaza received widespread coverage on CBC News, including an online article and an extensive broadcast interview.

HonestReporting Canada has submitted a complaint to CBC News and we encourage you to do the same. Send emails to Brodie Fenlon, CBC Editor-In-Chief Brodie.Fenlon@cbc.ca.

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