Correction needed on BBC article from November 5th 2012

On November 5th 2012 an article in the Middle East section of the BBC News website reported that: 

“A Palestinian has died after being hit by Israeli gunfire as he approached Gaza’s border fence with Israel.

The Israeli military said the man was shot after ignoring warnings to stop. Palestinian medics said the man was unarmed and mentally ill.”

That same incident was used by the Guardian’s Seumas Milne in an op-ed he wrote on November 20th for the ‘Comment is Free’ section of his paper’s website:

“In fact, an examination of the sequence of events over the last month shows that Israel played the decisive role in the military escalation: from its attack on a Khartoum arms factory reportedly supplying arms to Hamas and the killing of 15 Palestinian fighters in late October, to the shooting of a mentally disabled Palestinian in early November, the killing of a 13 year-old in an Israeli incursion and, crucially, the assassination of the Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari last Wednesday during negotiations over a temporary truce.”

[emphasis added in both quotes]

Also on November 20th, the BBC promoted Milne’s op-ed on its ‘Live Updates’ page, specifically relating to that above paragraph by informing audiences that:

“The Guardian’s Seamus Milne says in a new article that looking at the timeline of events, Israel is responsible for the military escalation that led to the current conflict.”

At the time, the man shot near the border fence was named by several Palestinian sources as Ahmed Tawfiq ‘Awadh al Nabahin – in some reports aged 23 and in others, 21. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), which documents all casualties in the Gaza Strip, stated on November 5th (the day after the incident) that al Nabahin suffered from epilepsy. 

Epilepsy, of course, is not a “mental illness” or a “mental disability” but a neurological condition.

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre’s weekly report for the period October 31st to November 6th reports as follows:

“On the evening of November 4 an IDF force identified a suspicious Palestinian approaching the security fence. They called to him to halt and fired shots in the air. However, when he did not comply and continued towards the fence, he was shot and killed (IDF Spokesman, November 5, 2012).

The Palestinian media reported the death of Ahmed Tawfiq al-Nabahin, 23, a resident of Juhr al-Dik. The reports claimed he was “mentally disturbed.” A picture of the same “mentally disturbed” individual, wearing a body-armor vest and armed with a rifle, was posted on the Hamas forum. The Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights in the Gaza Strip denounced the event and called on international organizations to take action against Israel’s so-called “war crimes” against the Palestinians (Ma’an News Agency and Shihab News Agency, November 5, 2012). Hamas posted a notice of al-Nabahin’s death on its website and appealed to the residents of the Al-Bureij refugee camp to participate in his funeral. His body was wrapped in the Hamas flag ( website and Safa News Agency, November 5, 2012). (Safa News Agency, November 5, 2012)”

al Nabahin

Obviously, both the BBC and the Guardian need to revise their reports accordingly. 


A reader reminds us that on November 22nd, during an edition of the BBC’s ‘Question Time’, Owen Jones also made reference to the IDF having “shot dead a mentally disabled Palestinian”. 


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