Moment BBC reporter breaks down in tears inside Gaza hospital

The BBC journalist who wept for Gaza: Producer left grief-stricken at sight of victims in hospital wing says young orphan was the same age as his daughter – as his cameraman finds friend who survived bloodshed which killed his family

  • BBC Arabic’s Adnan El-Bursh cried while reporting from Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza
  • His team discovered their friends, relatives and neighbours were injured or dead

A BBC journalist broke down in tears in a Gaza hospital after meeting a girl whose home was destroyed and family killed, saying she is the same age as his daughter.

BBC Arabic reporter Adnan El-Bursh fell to his knees and removed his glasses before wiping his face as he was overcome by emotion at the Al Shifa Hospital yesterday.

Mr El-Bursh and his team – including cameraman Mahmoud al-Ajrami, who was also left in tears – had discovered that their friends, relatives and neighbours were among those injured or killed in the hospital and he described how ‘bodies lay everywhere’.

In Mr El-Bursh’s report, a young girl with a bloodied face was seen sitting upright in a hospital bed while crying and covered in dust as a doctor tended to her legs.

The journalist and producer, who lives in Gaza and has worked for the BBC since December 2010, revealed the child had lost her home and her relatives were dead.

He said: ‘This young girl’s home was destroyed. Her relatives have been killed and she needs help. My daughter is the same age. I want to give her a hug.’

Mr El-Bursh wrote in an accompanying BBC News report that the girl was ‘brought in screaming from intense pain and shock’ and had been calling out to doctors to ‘treat her and to get rid of her pain’ after her home was ‘shelled by Israeli forces’.

Hundreds of seriously injured people were filling the hallways of Gaza’s largest medical facility amid traumatic scenes, with bodies lying in corridors and outside.

Speaking to the camera, Mr El-Bursh, who is a father, said: ‘This is my local hospital, inside are my friends, my neighbours. This is my community. Today has been one of the most difficult days in my career. I have seen things that I can never unseen.’

Mr El-Bursh also said that amid what he labelled as ‘chaos’, his cameraman Mr al-Ajrami saw his friend Malik in the hospital having survived – but his family were dead.

It comes as the United Nations said today that Israel’s military had told some one million Palestinians living in Gaza to evacuate the north. In other developments:

  • Grant Shapps intensified the row over the BBC not calling Hamas ‘terrorists’;
  • Palestinian backers in London removed posters of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas;
  • Foreign students who praise Hamas could now be deported from Britain;
  • Four Jewish schools in London closed until Monday amid fears for pupils’ safety; 
  • A ‘day of jihad’ saw anti-Israel protests around the world including in Iraq.

BBC Arabic journalist Adnan El-Bursh was overcome with emotion during a report from Gaza

Mr El-Bursh was left in tears after seeing the situation at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza yesterday

Mr El-Bursh wept after seeing the situation in Al-Shifa Hospital, with ‘bodies everywhere’ 

BBC cameraman Mahmoud al-Ajrami also wept after seeing his friend Malik lying wounded

During Mr El-Bursh’s report in Gaza, a young girl with a bloodied face is seen sitting upright in a hospital bed while crying and covered in dust as a doctor tended to her legs

An emergency responder carries a wounded child in hospital today following airstrikes in Gaza

A Palestinian woman comforts her children as they wait at the hospital to be checked 

During his report, Mr El-Burhs also spoke to a mother who was sitting next to the bodies of her dead relatives. 

How Adnan El-Bursh is a father who lives in Gaza and has worked for the BBC for 12 years

Adnan El-Bursh is a reporter and producer for BBC Arabic who has worked for the corporation since December 2010. He has a daughter and lives in Gaza City.

In his time at the BBC, he has covered the repeated outbreaks of violence between Israel and Gaza. 

He previously hit the headlines in May 2021 when a building collapsed in Gaza during his live television report after it was hit by an Israeli strike. He and his team kept broadcasting, unaware of what was about to happen.

Mr El-Bursh previously worked for Egypt-based software design and development firm Ramatan Technology from 2003 until 2010. 

He joined Twitter in 2013 and his account shows how he has reported from the frontline of war, but he has not posted since 2018. He is a member of the Foreign Press Association.

She told him: ‘We were sleeping and they were bombarding the house like everyone else. 

‘We don’t have any resistance fighters in our building. All the building is full of residents. 120 people live there.’

Mr El-Bursh also said: ‘The corridors of Al Shifa Hospital are filled with bodies. The morgue can no longer cope. 

‘The bodies of the dead have to be laid on the floor outside the hospital entrance.

‘You never want to become the story, yet in my city I feel helpless as the dead were given no dignity and the injured all left in pain.’

His report was released hours before the UN revealed that one million Palestinians living in Gaza had been told by Israel to evacuate the north. 

It is an unprecedented order for almost half the population of the sealed-off territory ahead of an expected ground invasion against the ruling Hamas militant group.

The UN has warned that so many people fleeing en masse would be calamitous.

Hamas, which staged a brutal attack on Israel this week, dismissed the order as a ploy and called on people to stay in their homes, adding to the widespread panic.

The evacuation order, which includes Gaza City, home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, sparked confusion among civilians and aid workers already running from Israeli air strikes and contending with a total siege and a territory-wide power blackout.

Palestinians would only be able to flee south within Gaza as Israel has completely sealed off the territory, a narrow strip of land about 25 miles long.

Mr El-Bursh tweeted this picture in April 2018 while reporting on the situation in Gaza

Adnan El-Bursh is pictured (far left) in an image on X, formerly known as Twitter, in 2017

The BBC’s Adnan El-Bursh is pictured in 2012 while reporting on violence in the Gaza Strip

Mr El-Bursh (right), who has worked for the BBC since 2010, with friends in an undated photo

Hamas said Israel’s heavy bombardment of the Gaza Strip killed 13 hostages, including foreigners, held by the group.

READ MORE Get out NOW: Israel drops flyers telling 1.1 million in Northern Gaza to flee ‘immediately’ after giving 24-hour deadline

The group’s military wing said the 13 were killed in various locations over the past 24 hours.

It did not give the nationality of the foreigners, and there has been no confirmation over the claims from Israel.

The Israeli military had said it would operate with ‘significant force’ in Gaza in the coming days and is calling on civilians to evacuate.

Spokesman Jonathan Conricus said Israeli forces ‘will make extensive efforts to avoid harming civilians’.

He added: ‘Out of an understanding that there are civilians here who are not our enemy and we do not want to target them, we are asking them to evacuate.’

The directive came on the heels of what the United Nations said was a warning they received from Israel to evacuate 1.1 million people living in northern Gaza within 24 hours.

Suffering in Gaza has risen dramatically with Palestinians desperate for food, fuel and medicine, while the territory’s only power plant shut down for lack of fuel. 

The mortuary at Gaza’s biggest hospital Al Shifa overflowed as bodies came in faster than relatives could claim them.

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin is set to visit today, a day after American secretary of state Antony Blinken was in Israel for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A man carries a wounded child into Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City

An Israeli army M109 155mm self-propelled howitzer fires rounds near the border with Gaza

People stand by the bodies of victims outside Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City 

Palestinians stretcher an injured man following an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza Strip 


The war has claimed at least 2,800 lives on both sides since Hamas launched an incursion on October 7.

READ MORE Grant Shapps in extraordinary spat with BBC’s Mishal Husain over corporation’s refusal to call Hamas ‘terrorists’

Inas Hamdan, an officer at the UN Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza City, said: ‘This is chaos, no-one understands what to do.’

She said all the UN staff in Gaza City and northern Gaza had been told to evacuate south to Rafah.

Nebal Farsakh, a spokeswoman for the Palestinian Red Crescent in Gaza City, claimed there was no way more than one million people could be safely moved within the timeframe specified, saying: ‘Forget about food, forget about electricity, forget about fuel. The only concern now is just if … you’re going to live.’

She added: ‘What will happen to our patients? We have wounded, we have elderly, we have children who are in hospitals.’

The flurry of directives was taken as signalling an expected Israeli ground offensive, though the Israeli military has not yet confirmed such a decision. 

Yesterday it said that while it was preparing, no decision has been made. 

The UN said the broad evacuation warning it received for all of Gaza’s north also applies to all UN staff and to the hundreds of thousands who have taken shelter in UN schools and other facilities since Israel launched round-the-clock air strikes on Saturday.

A man carries a wounded child into Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City

Emergeny personnel help an injured Palestinian man into Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City

Israeli occupation aircraft launch white phosphorus bombs west of Gaza City

A man carries an injured Palestinian baby into Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City 

‘The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences,’ UN spokeswoman Stephane Dujarric said.

READ MORE Palestinian supporters tear down more posters of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas as one man confronted over the Oxford Street vandalism says: ‘I don’t feel bad – I feel so good’

‘The United Nations strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation.’

Another UN official said that the UN is seeking clarity from Israeli officials at the most senior political level.

A ground offensive in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas, would likely bring even higher casualties on both sides in brutal house-to-house fighting.

Hamas’ unprecedented assault last Saturday and smaller attacks since have killed more than 1,300 people in Israel, including 247 soldiers – a toll unseen in Israel for decades – and the ensuing Israeli bombardment has killed more than 1,530 people in Gaza, according to authorities on both sides.

Israel says roughly 1,500 Hamas militants were killed inside Israel, and that hundreds of the dead in Gaza are Hamas members. Thousands have been wounded on both sides.

As Israel pounds Gaza from the air, Hamas militants have fired thousands of rockets into Israel. 

Amid concerns that the fighting could spread in the region, Syrian state media reported that Israeli air strikes yesterday put two Syrian international airports out of service.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to ‘crush’ Hamas after the militants stormed into the country’s south last Saturday and massacred hundreds of people, including children in their own homes and young people at a music festival.

A fireball erupts from an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City 

Israeli tanks move near the Gaza border as the Israeli army deploys military vehicles 

Israeli artillery fire rounds into the Gaza Strip from the border 

Amid grief and demands for vengeance among the Israeli public, the government is under intense pressure to topple Hamas rather than continuing to try to bottle it up in Gaza.

The number of people forced from their homes by Israel’s air strikes soared by 25 per cent in a day, reaching 423,000 out of a population of 2.3 million, the UN said yesterday.

Also yesterday, the Israeli military pulverised the Gaza Strip with air strikes, prepared for a possible ground invasion and said its complete siege of the territory would remain in place until Hamas militants free some 150 hostages taken during their weekend incursion.

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