BBC Watch report reveals the malice of Seumas Milne’s anti-Israel propaganda

As our sister site, BBC Watch, recently reported, on November 5, about an article in the Middle East section of the BBC reported the following:

“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.”

The same incident was cynically exploited by the Guardian’s Seumas Milne in his ‘Comment is Free’ essay on Nov. 20, which explicitly endorsed the right of Palestinians to commit acts of terrorism against Israelis (while rejecting the right of Israelis to defend themselves), titled ‘It’s Palestinians who have the right to defend themselves‘.

Milne wrote:

“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]

The man shot near the border fence (mentioned by the BBC and Milne) was named by Palestinian sources as Ahmed Tawfiq ‘Awadh al Nabahin. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), which purports to document all casualties in Gaza, stated the day after the incident that al Nabahin suffered from epilepsy.

As Hadar Sela of BBC Watch noted, epilepsy is not a “mental illness” or a “mental disability” but, rather, a neurological condition.

Further, The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre’s weekly report for the the week of October 31 to November 6 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…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)”


So, the ‘martyr’ in Milne’s tale was, in fact, a Hamas member who likely had epilepsy.

Moreover, the case represents another example of Israel being held to expectations that no army in the world could meet.  

In the case of Ahmed Tawfiq al-Nabahin, the IDF was somehow supposed to make a split second assessment of the security threat posed by a Palestinian approaching their border, determine whether he was armed, and, evidently, complete a psychological and neurological assessment of the suspect before taking action to prevent a possible terror attack.  

In other words, even if Tawfiq al-Nabahin was mentally disabled (which he evidently wasn’t), how could any security force have possibly made that determination while the border breach was occurring?

The truth, as plainly revealed by Milne’s Nov. 20 essay, is that the Guardian associate editor doesn’t seem to much care whether Israelis (faced with such terror attacks) live or if they die.  

However, it is the duty of those who lay claim to truly universal human rights to call out such crude propaganda and double standards – especially when such moral malice insidiously passes as ‘liberal’ commentary.

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