‘Extremely Harrowing’: British Surgeon’s Gaza Testimony Buried By The ‘MSM’   

Credit: Prof Nick Maynard/MAP

Propaganda by omission is a dominant feature of the ‘mainstream’ news media. Indeed, it is a requirement. Rather than serving the public interest by fully exposing the brutal machinations of power, state-corporate media shield Western governments and their allies from scrutiny and focus the public’s attention on the crimes of Official Enemies. 

Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza is but the latest example. Consider the dearth of media coverage given to the compelling and shocking testimony provided by leading British surgeon, Professor Nick Maynard, who works as a consultant gastrointestinal surgeon at Oxford University Hospital.

Maynard left Gaza just before Israel took control of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on 7 May. He had been operating on Palestinian patients for two weeks and he gave a very disturbing account of what he had observed.

The first topic he highlighted was ‘the direct targeting of healthcare workers’ by the Israeli military, describing how ‘hundreds have been killed’ and ‘hundreds have been abducted’. Maynard had personally worked with one young doctor and one young nurse who had been abducted and held in captivity for 45 days and 60 days, respectively. They both gave him ‘very graphic and stark descriptions of their daily torture at the hands of the Israeli defence force’. He described the experience of hearing their stories as ‘extremely harrowing’.

Maynard had also been to Gaza over Christmas and New Year where he worked at Al-Aqsa hospital. He ‘spent the whole two weeks operating all the time on major explosive injuries to the abdomen and to the chest. And it was really nonstop.’

His visit was unexpectedly cut short in early January when the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) ordered the medical staff, along with the hospital’s 600 patients, to evacuate the hospital. A few British newspaper reports that included accounts by Maynard and colleagues were published at the time on the ‘nightmare’ of working in ‘one of ‘Gaza’s last functioning hospitals’ (Daily Mirror, 18 January, 2024), ‘The single worst thing I’ve seen’ (Daily Telegraph, 12 January, 2024), and ‘British surgeon haunted by Gaza horrors pledges to go back’ (The Times, 4 February, 2024).

In March, the Guardian reported that a delegation of American and British doctors had arrived in Washington DC to tell the Biden administration that the Israeli military was systematically destroying Gaza’s health infrastructure in order to drive Palestinians out of their homes. Maynard was quoted, accusing the IDF of committing ‘appalling atrocities’, although the article did not address these in depth.

He said:

‘The IDF are systematically targeting healthcare facilities, healthcare personnel and really dismantling the whole healthcare system.’

He continued:

‘It’s not just about targeting the buildings, it’s about systematically destroying the infrastructure of the hospitals. Destroying the oxygen tanks at the al-Shifa hospital, deliberately destroying the CT scanners and making it much more difficult to rebuild that infrastructure. If it was just targeting Hamas militants, why are they deliberately destroying the infrastructure of these institutions?’

According to Maynard, Israel’s strategy of targeting hospitals and healthcare facilities is intended to drive the Palestinians from their homes:

‘It persuades the local population to leave. If a hospital has been dismantled, if the locals see there is no medical care available and see the disrupted infrastructure, it’s yet another factor that drives them south.’ [At that time, Israel had designated the south of Gaza a ‘safe zone’ for Palestinians to seek refuge.]

In an interview with Nick Ferrari of London-based LBC radio on 2 April, Maynard made further shocking revelations. The timing of the interview was linked to the IDF having just destroyed another hospital, Al-Shifa, where Maynard had also previously worked. Around 400 Palestinians had reportedly been killed in a brutal two-week attack by Israeli forces.

Maynard told Ferrari:

‘Every single part of the hospital has been destroyed. The whole infrastructure of the hospital has been destroyed. When I spoke to Marwan [a Palestinian colleague] yesterday, he told me there were 107 patients, 60 medical staff. God only knows what has happened to them. I think we’ve seen some of the pictures. Surgeons I know have been executed in the last 48 hours there. Bodies have been discovered in the last 12-24 hours who had been handcuffed, with their hands behind their back. [Our added emphasis].’

He added:

‘And so, there is no doubt at all, that multiple healthcare workers have been executed there in the last few days.’

Ferrari then asked:

‘You believe executed by whom, doctor?’

Maynard:

‘By the Israeli Defence Force.’

Ferrari:

‘Why would they seek to execute surgeons and medical professionals?’

Maynard:

‘Well, they’ve been doing it since October the 7th. Over 450 healthcare workers have been killed. Friends of mine that I’ve worked with over the years. Many have been abducted as well, and nothing has been heard of them since. So, there is no doubt in my mind that – I can bear witness to this from my time at Al-Aqsa hospital and from talking to people that there has been direct targeting of the healthcare system in Gaza, direct targeting of hospitals and multiple killings of healthcare workers.’

Maynard also made clear that neither he, nor any of his colleagues, ever saw evidence of Hamas using hospitals or healthcare facilities as bases for their operations, despite numerous Israeli claims to the contrary.

BBC Silence

‘Mainstream’ media showed minimal interest in this highly credible testimony from a British surgeon on Israel’s deliberate targeting of healthcare workers, including actual execution of surgeons. As far as we can see, there is nothing about Maynard’s testimony exposing these executions on the BBC News website.

An article on the Guardian website on 7 April did cover Maynard’s testimony about targeting of healthcare workers and infrastructure, but made no mention of his statement that Palestinian surgeons had been executed by Israeli soldiers. Nor was it mentioned anywhere else in the entirety of the British national press.

The Telegraph carried an interview with Maynard on 12 January in which he said:

‘There can be certainly no doubt in my mind from what I’ve recently witnessed that [Israel] are directly targeting healthcare structures with a view to completely disabling the healthcare system in Gaza.’

The Telegraph appears not to have reported Maynard’s subsequent claim that he personally knew surgeons who have since been executed by Israeli soldiers.

On 13 May, International Nurses Day, the Gaza Health Ministry announced that at least 500 medical personnel had been killed by Israel since 7 October. Dr Omar Abdel-Mannan, a paediatric neurologist and co-founder of Healthcare Workers for Palestine, said that the only way Israel could ‘justify’ these killings would be if they see these healthcare workers not as humans, but as ‘human animals’. As readers may recall, Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant infamously described his Palestinian enemies as ‘human animals’.

Of his most recent trip, Maynard said that:

‘the very strong narrative of the patients I was treating over the last two weeks were those with terrible infective complications as a direct result of malnutrition, and this was very stark indeed.’

He gave a graphic insight into the hellish conditions:

‘And I operated on many patients in the last two weeks who had awful complications from their abdominal surgery related to inadequate nutrition, and particularly those with [the] abdominal wall breaking down. So, literally their intestines end up hanging outside. And the intestinal repairs that have been carried out to deal with the damage to the bowels leaking, so their bowel contents leaking out from different parts of the abdomen, covering their bodies, covering their beds.’

He drew particular attention to:

‘The lack of resources to deal with these inadequate numbers of colostomy bags, wound management devices and nutritional support.’

Maynard explained the consequences for patients:

‘They get this vicious cycle of malnutrition, infection, wounds breaking down, more infection, more malnutrition. So, it’s devastating and we will see far more of that over the coming months.’        

He gave examples of two young female patients he had treated: Tala who was 16 and Lama who was 18, both of whom had survivable injuries. Tragically, they both died ‘as a direct result of malnutrition’.

This was yet more shocking and credible testimony from an experienced British consultant surgeon. It should have been headline news across the British press and broadcasting outlets. But searches of the Lexis-Nexis database of newspapers, together with Google searches, reveal minimal ‘mainstream’ coverage: one article in the Independent.

If this had been evidence against ‘Putin’s Russia’ or ‘Assad’s Syria’, it would have generated huge headlines, in-depth reporting and anguished commentary across all major news media. Once again, we see the insidiously corrupt phenomenon of propaganda by omission.

It is noteworthy that, last November, the BBC News website did feature Maynard, ‘who’s been travelling to the Gaza Strip and West Bank for more than a decade.’ Six months ago, he was once again on ‘standby to go and work in operating theatres with the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians’. With remarkable courage, he told the BBC:

‘I think there is fear, apprehension, not knowing what one would find, but I think the other motives for doing so… are so powerful that they outweigh everything else. I consider it a huge privilege to be in a position to help these people who need help more than most of us can possibly understand.’

Now that Maynard has returned from Gaza with horrific accounts, not least of the murder of healthcare workers by the Israeli military, the BBC appears not in the least interested. When we pointed this out via X (formerly Twitter), directly challenging John Neal, editor of BBC News at One, Six and Ten, and Paul Royall, executive editor of the BBC News Channel, the public response was huge. Our social media outreach is routinely suppressed by the deliberately obscure algorithms of Facebook and X. But this particular tweet spread widely by our standards, being shared 740 times at the time of writing. Shamefully, there has been no response from the BBC.

When Genocide Is Merely ‘War’

In the meantime, BBC News persists in labelling the Gaza genocide as the ‘Israel-Gaza war’. The day after it was reported that almost half a million Palestinians had fled Rafah in the south of Gaza, despite having previously been designated a ‘safe zone’ by Israel, as discussed above, the BBC failed to follow up on the story.

One was presumably supposed to imagine that this huge number of people was no longer in danger: at risk of being bombed or dying under Israeli-imposed hunger, malnutrition and disease.

That same week, the BBC News website had as many as four ‘Live’ feeds running simultaneously. Not one of them focused on the Israeli-inflicted horrors in Gaza. This is truly remarkable. Has there been a BBC directive from senior management not to give too much attention to Israel’s genocide of Palestinians? Where are the BBC whistleblowers who can let the public know what’s going inside the corporation?

A vanishingly rare exception appeared on 24 October 2023, when BBC correspondent Rami Ruhayem – a former journalist for the Associated Press, who has worked as a journalist and producer for BBC Arabic and the BBC World Service since 2005 – sent a letter to the BBC’s Director-General, Tim Davie:

‘Dear Tim,

‘I am writing to raise the gravest possible concerns about the coverage of the BBC, especially on English outlets, of the current fighting between Israel and Palestinian factions.

‘It appears to me that information that is highly significant and relevant is either entirely missing or not being given due prominence in coverage.’

The emphasis now is emphatically on ‘missing’. It seems the global student and other protests have prompted the BBC to attempt to limit public dissent.

By contrast, BBC journalists can be quick to respond when they feel they have been subjected to unjust criticism. On 13 May, we retweeted a clip from Saul Staniforth, a media activist with a large following on X, about Israel banning Al Jazeera. Staniforth had included a quote from Sebastian Usher, a BBC News Middle East analyst:

‘Al Jazeera – I think many people, if they DO watch it, WOULD see it as some kind of propaganda.’

We asked:

‘And how do you think many people see BBC News?’

Clearly piqued, Usher contacted us the following day to say that his quote had been taken out of context. He said it was a direct response during a live interview to a question on the likely reaction by Israelis to the closing of Al Jazeera. He considered Staniforth’s tweet and our follow-up seriously misleading and the exact opposite of the tenor of his reporting on the issue.

We asked him which words he had used to express solidarity with Al Jazeera, or to speak out for press freedom and free speech. He declined to provide such a statement, saying that as a BBC journalist he was unable to do so in a public forum. Usher added that in his reporting he stressed that Al Jazeera sees its mission as righting what it believes is imbalance on Gaza reporting in international media by giving more space to Palestinian voices and voices on the ground.

We were happy to include the points he had made, which we did via Facebook and X. Usher responded to our very reasonable response with a grudging ‘Ok.’

It is worth noting that Usher strongly objected to being ‘quoted out of context’ while working for a media organisation clearly trying to suppress public outrage at an ongoing genocide by reducing coverage.

Moreover, the essential observation we made stands: many people at home and abroad regard BBC News as an outlet of western propaganda. Its abject performance during the Gaza genocide – ‘the Israel-Gaza war’, as the state-mandated broadcaster puts it – is ample proof.

DC & DE