PBS is peddling Hamas propaganda via representatives from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known by its English translation, “Doctors Without Borders.” MSF bills itself as an “international, independent medical humanitarian organisation” and claims it “observes neutrality and impartiality in the name of universal medical ethics.” But, in fact, it is a pro-Hamas propaganda group that justifies Hamas’ Oct. 7th massacre and hostage-taking as a “large-scale attack” on Israel that resulted from “decades of repression and conflict, and an Israel-imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip.” Representatives from the group are making the rounds at MSM outlets to accuse Israel of war crimes and demand a ceasefire.
Even while evidence of Hamas’ cynical use of Palestinian hospitals continues to mount– the director of the Kamal Adwan Hospital in the Jabaliya neighborhood of northern Gaza described to Israeli interrogators how Hamas has turned hospitals into terror bases—PBS has featured two segments with MSF representatives within a week to deny Hamas’ war crimes and place an international medical stamp on Hamas propaganda.
Oct. 14, 2023: Avril Benoit
On Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, the PBS News Hour featured a segment with MSF’s U.S. Executive Director, Avril Benoit, calling for a ceasefire and repeating Hamas propaganda lines about Israeli war crimes and indiscriminate violence. Benoit was introduced by interviewer William Brangham as the executive director of an “international humanitarian organization” that “has been operating in Gaza since the start of the war,” to lend authority to Hamas propaganda.
The MSF director implicitly placed the blame for Gazan suffering on Israel, without any mention of a Hamas role in the fighting despite the fact that she and her colleagues did not witness the battles. She said:
“The conditions have been harrowing almost since the beginning, with the shortage of fuel, the shortage of medicines, of medical equipment, the constant orders to evacuate hospitals that are fully functioning and overcrowded with patients in need of care… There was sniper fire, and this hospital has been surrounded by Israeli forces for many, many days now and (an MSF doctor) was shot and injured inside the hospital while treating a patient… it’s impossible with the few resources, with the siege, with the constant pressures of the violence.”
She did not blame Hamas for seizing fuel and humanitarian aid from civilians, made no mention of Hamas operating from behind civilians and made no acknowledgement that warnings by Israel to evacuate hospitals, in fact, demonstrates that the IDF did not target civilians.
In order not to seem entirely one-sided, Brangham followed up with a question about the Israel’s perspective:
“I mean, the IDF argues that the only reason they are approaching hospitals or fighting around hospitals is because they argue Hamas is operating inside those hospitals themselves. Have your staff seen any evidence of that?”
Turning truth on its head, Benoit dismissed Israel’s evidence of Hamas’ embedding its terrorist operations in, under and near hospitals as a bogus Israeli excuse for its own alleged war crimes:
“These are very unconvincing arguments. Our staff have not seen evidence that hospitals are being used in the way that the Israeli government continues to allege to provide political cover for what can also be considered war crimes.”
Never mind that Israel showed the AK-47s, rifles body army, ammunition that were stashed in a hospital.
Pay no attention to the captured film footage released by Israel of hostages being dragged into a hospital by armed Hamas operatives.
Forget the embedded journalists who filmed a Hamas tunnel beneath al-Shifa hospital and later, the largest tunnel that is part of the vast network of tunnels from which Hamas operates.
And forget that Israel recovered the bodies of murdered hostages near al Shifa Hospital.
According to Benoit, who is apparently unwilling to see Israel as anything but a villain, “these are very unconvincing arguments.”
Dec. 18, 2023: Ghassan Abu Sittah
On Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, PBS followed up with another segment featuring an MSF physician , Ghassan Abu Sittah, to amplify the anti-Israel propaganda. Abu Sittah is a Palestinian doctor/activist who practices plastic surgery in London but was on the ground in Gaza agitating against Israel internationally, under the guise of being an authoritative first-hand witness to Israel’s alleged war crimes.
Far from being an objective witness, Abu Sittah was among the first to spread lies on his social media account and in impromptu press conferences about a misfired Palestinian Islamic Jihad missile that struck the parking lot in the al Ahli Hospital on October 17, 2023, declaring it a massacre and war crime by Israel . Despite the massive independent intelligence analysis by the international community (including even the anti-Israel Human Rights Watch) indicating that the missile was not launched by Israel but by a Palestinian terrorist group, neither Abu Sittah (see here and here) nor MSF ever withdrew their claims that Israel was to blame.. In fact, Abu Sittah continues to play the circuit condemning Israel for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad missile at the al Ahli Hospital.
The MSF doctor is currently continuing his Hamas propaganda tour with interviews and webinars (see, for example, here, here, here, and here), and has testified before a British war crimes investigations unit where he falsely claimed Israel is using phosphorus bombs against Palestinian children and deliberately destroying healthcare facilities as part of a genocidal war against Palestinian civilians.
His appearance on PBS was apparently part of this campaign. With no mention of his role as an MSF representative, PBS host Geoff Bennett introduced him as “a British-Palestinian surgeon who spent a month-and-a-half in Gaza tending to people at the peak of the Israeli bombing campaign,” implying his role was of an objective, first-hand witness.
In the PBS interview, Abu Sittah compares the war in Gaza to those in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, with the absurd suggestion that what is happening in Gaza is far worse. He declares:
“Everything that I had seen, not just in Gaza before, but even in Yemen and Iraq and Syria, it was nothing compared to what we witnessed and what is still going on in Gaza. The size, the magnitude of the killing, the ferocity of the violence is astounding. It’s beyond what I have seen in 30 years of warfare.”
Anyone familiar with the afore-mentioned wars, each of which had casualty counts in the hundreds of thousands, must realize that Abu Sittah’s depiction of the current Gaza war as even worse is nothing but Hamas propaganda.
And when asked about Israel’s evidence regarding Hamas’ use of al-Shifa Hospital as a base, Abu Sittah responds like a true propagandist – deny, deflect and return to the same false accusations against Israel:
“Anybody who’s had an MRI can testify to the stupidity of what we saw – the presence of a machine gun magazine next to an MRI machine.Anybody who’s had an MRI who’s repeatedly told to take even small rings and earrings and necklaces, had there been what the Israelis were saying [Hamas use of hospital], you would still be having teams of embedded journalists being taken on tour in these great command-and-control centers.
This narrative of Shifa aimed to actually distract from the fact that, while they were talking about Shifa, they destroyed four pediatric hospitals. While they were talking about Shifa, they bombed the cancer hospital. While they were talking about Shifa, they dismantled the whole of the health system in Northern Gaza, with the aim of making Gaza an uninhabitable place to dismantle all of the components of life, water and sewage, bakeries, schools, universities. And you turn it into a death world, where life cannot exist, and those who are left behind have to eventually leave for the sake of their children.”
Abu Sittah’ attempts to ridicule Israel’s discovery of weapons at al-Shifa as a “stupid” fabrication reveals only his own incoherent foolishness. If it was safe enough for the IDF to plant the evidence in the vicinity of an MRI machine, as he suggests they did, why is it so far-fetched for Hamas to have left it there in the first place? The mid-sentence switch in his refutation to: if Israel was right in its claims about Hamas, then soldiers would still be taking teams of journalists on tours of the hospital is even more disjointed and ludicrous.
As for his claim that Israel “destroyed four pediatric hospitals” and “bombed the cancer hospital,” it is patently false, with no evidence whatsoever to support it. In fact, Israel called for the evacuation of hospitals where Hamas is embedded, opened up corridors and routes for evacuations and facilitated the evacuation of premature babies from al Shifa Hospital through COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories).
The IDF recently produced a graphic showing Hamas leadership strongholds in and around hospitals in northern Gaza.
The extent to which hospitals have been taken over by the Hamas terrorist organization has only become clearer from the recently released testimony of Dr. Ahmed Kohlot, the director of the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Jabaliya who holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in Hamas’ military wing. He told Shin Bet and IDF interrogators that “the hospital is controlled by Hamas” and that “there are workers in the hospital who are military operatives of Ezz a-Din Al-Qassem, including physicians, nurses, paramedics, clerks, and staff members,” as well as employees from Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another terrorist group. He explained that Hamas operatives hide in hospitals because they believe them to be safe spaces where they will not be harmed. He described “offices for senior officials,” “designated places for interrogations, internal security and special security” and “private phone lines within the hospital” for Hamas officials. He also noted that Hamas “brought a kidnapped soldier” to the hospital. Kohlot who has been with Hamas since 2010 accused the group’s leaders of being “cowards” who “left us in the field while they hide in hiding places. They destroyed us.”
But to the activists at MSF, it makes no difference how much evidence Israel provides of Hamas’ abuse of Palestinian healthcare facilities and its sacrifice of Gazan civilians in order to maintain its murderous terrorist apparatus that Israel is trying to dismantle.
So why has PBS continued to invite them to peddle Hamas propaganda on their station?
For additional details about MSF’s anti-Israel activism and propaganda, see:
- NGO-Monitor: “Doctors Without Borders (MSF): Systematically Ignoring Israeli Victims and Hamas Terror,” Nov. 23, 2023
- Destexhe, Alain, “Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), an Accomplice of Hamas?” Gatestone Institute, Dec. 19, 2023
Alain Destexhe is a physician, Belgian politician and former secretary-general of MSF.