Times reporter Shayma Bakht published a fawning profile of a pro-Palestinian British surgeon, while omitting his record of spouting pro-terrorism propaganda.
The piece (“Gaza horrors must be a turning point says British surgeon”, Jan. 2) focuses on Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta, an East London-based doctor who’s been used as pundit by BBC, Sky and CNN. While volunteering in hospitals in Gaza, Times readers are told, he “survived an explosion at al-Ahli hospital and spent 48 consecutive nights ‘drowning in a sea’ of wounded patients across the Gaza Strip”.
Later, we’re told the following:
On October 17 Abu-Sittah moved from the al-Shifa complex, the largest hospital in the south of Gaza City, to al-Ahli in the north to help overwhelmed staff. That evening an explosion in the hospital’s courtyard killed 471 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health ministry, although other sources put the figure at perhaps half that. Abu-Sittah became a face of the medical community when he gave an international news conference surrounded by dozens of bloodied bodies.
What the Times doesn’t say is that, during that press conference, Abu-Sitta blamed Israel for the explosion, an assertion he never recanted, despite the fact that only a few days later facts would emerge making it clear that it was an errant Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) rocket that caused the explosion, and that the Hamas claim that it was an IDF bomb was baseless.
“What happened today is a war crime and if the Israeli’s get away with it again, then more war crimes will be committed.”
— Khadija (@khadljasays) October 18, 2023
So clear was the evidence that it was PIJ who was responsible for the blast, that even the notoriously anti-Israel group Human Rights Watch agreed that the evidence pointed to the errant terrorist rocket launched from Gaza.
Propaganda spread by Hamas and those, like Abu-Sitta, who serve as the terror group’s amen corner in the West, blaming Israel for the blast, inspired riots throughout the Middle East, and resulted in a mob burning down a historic synagogue in the Tunisian city of Al Hammah.
Later in the paragraph, the journalist frames the explosion as a ‘he-said, she said‘, writing that “The [IDF] deny the explosion was the result of one of its airstrikes, saying it has proof it was caused by a misfired missile from Hamas, one of many aimed at Israeli civilians that have instead landed in Gaza”, without even mentioning PIJ. However, an Oct. 24 article in her own outlet effectively endorses the conclusion that it was PIJ.
Later, the Times adds the following:
Since his return [to London] he says he has faced “venomous” attacks on his career and his family but “in comparison to what my colleagues in Gaza are facing it is embarrassing to complain. It’s comical: people accuse me of being a member of an Islamic fundamentalist religious organisation and also an atheist, Marxist-Leninist organisation simultaneously.”
Omitted by Bakht is revelations by the Jewish Chronicle last month that, three years earlier, Abu-Sittah spoke at a ceremony in Beirut commemorating the first anniversary of the death of Maher Al-Yamani, who co-founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group. Though PFLP has a Marxist-Leninist ideological background, contrary to Al-Sittah’s claim, nobody accused him of being a member of the group. He’s only been accused, per his commemoration of PFLP’s founder, of supporting the group’s antisemitic violence, which has included suicide bombings, plane hijackings and other attacks targeting Israeli civilians.
Similarly, though not accused of being a Hamas member, it’s been revealed by Jewish News, as well as Nicole Lampert at Unheard, that Abu-Sitta has promoted posts sympathetic to the proscribed terror group, including one, on Oct. 8, the day after the terror group’s mass murder, rape, torture and mutilation of 1,200 Israelis, urging Palestinian civilians to “fight back” and martyr themselves with “dignity”.
Though it seems that he recently deleted the above tweet, it’s edifying that Abu-Sitta’s first X post after Oct. 7 was the following re-post, which he hasn’t removed:
Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth is the go-to text for radical leftist intellectuals to justify “anti-colonial” terrorism targeting civilians. “Violence,” argued Fanon, “is a cleansing force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his despair and inaction; it makes him fearless and restores his self-respect.” More germane to the Fanon quote cited in the post, he also wrote in the same book that “truth is that which hurries on the breakup of the colonial regime” and “the good is quite simply that which is evil for them.” His repost of Fanon’s epistemological relativism isn’t very hard to dissect. Hamas barbarism is justified by Palestinians’ anti-colonial ‘truth’.
Elsewhere in the article, the Times reporter also quotes Abu-Sitta repeating his charge that the IDF used white phosphorous against civilians in Gaza, while failing to note Israel’s emphatic denial.
Note that this isn’t a one-off for Bakht. On Dec. 18th, we flagged a piece she wrote which similarly framed a mere Palestinian allegation as an irrefutable fact.
.@ShaymaBakht @thetimes This article reports a mere allegation, that Israeli snipers killed two civilians at the Holy Family Parish in Gaza, as if it were a fact, and omits the fact that the IDF flatly denied the claim.
We hope it can be amended. pic.twitter.com/9gYm0wSl60
— CAMERA UK (@CAMERAorgUK) December 18, 2023
We’ve complained to Times editors about the omissions and distortions in the Abu-Sitta profile.