As noted here earlier in the week, in an item about the Six Day War aired on BBC World Service radio on June 3rd, BBC Arabic’s Sally Nabil mentioned that her department would be “marking this anniversary with a number of postcards [reports] from the different countries that were occupied during the 1967 war”.
“I’m here in Cairo. I’m filing a postcard with a veteran warrior.”
On June 6th that report appeared on the BBC Arabic website and apparently also on BBC Arabic TV.
The report’s synopsis repeats the claim made in Nabil’s World Service item according to which her interviewee was a prisoner of war ‘for about a year’. As noted here previously, according to the Israeli MFA, all prisoner exchanges with Egypt were completed by January 23rd 1968 and so that claim is obviously questionable.
In the report BBC Arabic’s audiences hear the following:
“I am Amin Abdul Rahman Mohammad Jumaa. I was born in the year of 1944. I am 72 years of age. I enlisted myself in the Egyptian army in 1964.
I was taken as a hostage by Israel for a year. I was released in the end of 1968.
The first day, I entered the camp and the thorns were between 6 to 10 cm.
I was walking barefoot on the thorns and the thorns went in my feet.
We were sitting in the camp, we were all Egyptians and all were starving. They give a quarter piece of toast and then he [the Israeli solider] start to beat you.
They start to investigate you and interrogate. After investigation they take the hostage and he never comes back.
An Israeli soldier then asked us ‘who is thirsty?’ One of the hostages said ‘I am’ so the Israeli solider will take him and kill him with fire [shoot him].
Then another solider comes and asks the same question. Three of us answered him, while one did not give an answer. The solider asked him ‘so you are not thirsty?’ The Egyptian solider replies ‘no’. Then the Israeli solider will take him and tell him ‘so you have dignity, then I am going to kill you’.
They used [a] bulldozer to bury the Egyptian soldiers alive. They do not have values.
I said to myself, I want to take my right but Camp David does not allow me to sue the Israeli state.”
Obviously Sally Nabil can not have independently verified those claims and allegations before publishing this item. However, as indicated in its synopsis, her agenda in this report (as well as in her World Service item) also includes promotion of attempts by some parties to claim compensation on the basis of such unproven allegations. In the English language item broadcast on June 3rd she told listeners that her interviewee:
“…said ‘I tried to get a compensation from Israel’ but you know there is a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel that was signed in the late ’70s. He said that according to the Camp David peace treaty that each country should compensate its own citizens, so it was the Egyptian government that was supposed to compensate him for what happened to him but he said that the government paid him nothing. He said ‘my pension now it’s about 500 Egyptian pounds’ which is less than $50.”
The court ruling mentioned in the synopsis relates to a case that has been going on for years. While similar allegations have been made throughout more than two decades, that court case rests largely on an Israeli documentary called ‘Ruah Shaked’ from 2007 which caused a diplomatic incident at the time. The fact that the film-maker later admitted that he had made a series of mistakes that created the inaccurate impression that Israeli soldiers had killed Egyptian prisoners of war in 1967 does not interest those pursuing that case in the Egyptian courts.
Obviously it does not interest Sally Nabil either; as we see she is quite happy to promote unverified claims and to amplify allegations that have never been proven to BBC Arabic’s audience of 37 million people.