Bowen wrote: [emphasis added]
“20 years ago today the Israeli army killed my friend and BBC colleague Abed Takkoush in South Lebanon. They fired a tank shell into his car from their side of the border wire. They claimed we were terrorists. Abed left a wife and 3 teenage sons
I’d decided to stop to do a piece to camera. I got out of the car with cameraman Malek Kanaan. Abed stayed in the car on a phone call to his son. A minute or two later a Merkava tank crew about a kilometre away fired at the car.
It was the middle of a bright sunny day, with perfect visibility. They were close enough to see us clearly with the sophisticated optics in a Merkava tank. Yet they claimed we were terrorists.
Israel was pulling out of a long occupation of Lebanon because Hezbollah had made it too costly for them, by killing Israeli soldiers. They were on high alert but we were miles behind their retreating forces. We were journalists doing our jobs.
Abed should be celebrating the end of Ramadan with his family. They suffered a grievous loss. Israel has every right to defend itself. But we were no threat, civilians covering the story, moving openly in bright sunlight. It took many hours before Abed’s body could be recovered.”
Did the Israeli army really claim that Bowen and his crew “were terrorists”? Of course not.
As we have documented here in the past, early on the morning of Tuesday May 23rd 2000 – the day before the completion of the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon – a tank crew stationed on the border fence near Kibbutz Menara received an intelligence alert concerning the likelihood of terrorists firing anti-tank missiles at IDF tanks and armoured vehicles. Later in the day, the crew spotted a Lebanese vehicle transporting men in civilian clothing and suspected that these were Hizballah terrorists carrying equipment for firing an anti-tank missile. The tank crew was given permission to fire at the suspected terrorists.
Later it emerged that the men were actually a BBC film crew headed by Jeremy Bowen and that driver Abed Takkoush had been killed. The IDF investigated the incident and issued an apology. Understandably, that tragic incident appears to be still very much at the forefront of Bowen’s mind, although he clearly still does not accept that it was possible to mistake three men travelling in a war zone in a car with Lebanese plates, and carrying camera equipment, for Hizballah terrorists dressed – as was very often the case – in civilian clothing.
Bowen’s account of the trauma he experienced 20 years ago must of course be considered within the framework of the position of Middle East editor which he chose to accept a few years later. That role makes him the gatekeeper of all “accurate and impartial” BBC reporting from the Middle East.
Yet as we see, in his fairly frequent accounts of that day in May 2000 Bowen continues to promote inaccurate allegations.