On May 23rd the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen tweeted a thread about an incident which occurred twenty-two years ago.
Bowen wrote: [emphasis added]
“On this day in 2000 Abed Takkoush, long time driver/producer for the BBC in Lebanon, was killed by a shell fired at 1km range by an Israeli tank crew. They tried to kill cameraman Malek Kanaan and me with the tank’s heavy machine gun. Their excuse – we might have been terrorists
Abed was 53 and left a wife and three teenage sons. Israelis claimed we were behaving like terrorists. Malek was filming me doing a piece to camera, Abed was in the car which they hit. It was midday, bright sunshine, and from one km with modern optics they could see us clearly
Back in Israel a general told me: there were scared boys in that tank. BBC investigation concluded they opened fire recklessly.”
As we have had cause to point out on the many occasions in the past when Bowen has told this story in interviews or on Twitter, 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.
Subsequently 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 22 years ago must however 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 publicly promote a version of events that calls into question his objectivity on Israel.