Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
received a government report Saturday, presenting the findings of a special governmental inquiry committee into the death of Muhammad al-Dura during the al-Aqsa Intifada.
The report focuses on the controversial September 2000 France 2 broadcast – in which the boy is seen hiding behind his father while the two were under IDF gunfire – and conclude that al-Dura was still alive at the end of the video.
Video of al-Dura moving hand
According to the committee findings, in contrary to what had been published before, there was no evidence that the boy or his father were injured at the time the video was shot, thereby noting there was reasonable doubt regarding IDF's responsibility to the boy's death.
Upon receiving the committee's findings, Netanyahu said that "focusing on this incident is important as it slandered Israel and serves as an example for the delegitimization Israel constantly faces.
"There is only one way to fight lies," the prime minister concluded, "and that is with the truth."
According to the committee, France 2 framed the story as if at the time of its broadcast there was concrete evidence supporting the claim that the boy had died as a result of IDF gunfire, despite the fact that at the time, the responsibility for Al-Dura's death was still disputed,
thus putting into question the entire credibility of the news report.
The committee, formed in 2012, was first headed by now Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon,
and concluded its inquiry recently under the chairmanship of Yuval Steinitz.
Steinitz also commented on the report saying "This was a blood-libel against Israel. The French report was simply false."
"So they're basically saying that Muhammad is alive?" Muhammad's father, Jamal al-Dura, asked ironically during a Sunday phone-interview with Ynet.
"If Muhammad wasn’t hurt by the bullets, then who shot at me and injured me? When the Israeli army shot and hit us, Israel admitted to have done it. Why does it keep changing its version?"
"If Israel is willing to form an international inquiry committee that will prove how Muhammad died, I will cooperate with it."
Would you be prepared to have his body exhumed for that purpose?
"First of all, Israel would have to consent to an international inquiry. Then we could talk about exhumation. But I doubt that Israel would be willing to do so because it is afraid that IDF might be found responsible for my son's death. Netanyahu and his government are afraid of it."
The report argued that the bullets fired at you and your son could have been by shooters others than the IDF.
"Then why did IDF bulldozers make it to the junction after the incident and tore down all the walls? To erase the truth. With my own eyes I saw that we were shot at from the nearby Israeli post."
Jamal al-Dura and his 12-year-old son, Muhammad al-Dura, became the symbol of the Al-Aqsa Intifada,
when the two were caught in a fire exchange in the Netzarim Junction. The boy was killed in the incident, and his death triggered a blame game: The Palestinians accused Israel
for Muhammad's death, while Israeli officials claimed he was hit by Palestinian fire.
In February 2012, France's highest appellate court accepted France 2's appeal regarding the decision to rejects its libel case against the Jewish French media personality Philippe Karsenty, who claimed the channel had staged the entire incident.
The French channel sued Karsenty in 2004 after he had claimed that all of the video footage from Charles Enderlin's
September 30, 2004 news report were staged for the production of the news report.
In the footage, shot by Talal Abu Rahma, al-Dura is seen injured, and his father protectively covering him with his body.
shook the world and invoked much anger against IDF forces who were assumed to be responsible for his death.
At first, the IDF accepted responsibility for the boy's death. However, an internal IDF inquiry committee's findings led the IDF to retract
its claim of responsibility and state that it was much more plausible that the two were injured by Palestinian gunfire.
Karsenty, using his website, claimed that the story in its entirety was staged, and stands as a blatant example of a pro-Palestinian media bias. According to him, the news report's goal was to slander Israel and present the Palestinians as victims.
Not stopping at the reporter and cameraman, Karsenty even went as far as accusing the network of fabricating the entire al-Dura incident.
In wake of his claims, France 2 sued Karsenty for libel and won when a French court ruled that the footage had not been staged. However, Karsenty refused to give up and appealed the court's decision.
In September 2007, a French court instructed the TV channel to hand over the entire, unedited footage shot that day, thus reopening the case.
In the full video, Muhammad al-Dura can be seen waving his hand, moving his leg and without any visible bloodstains, despite claims made during the news report that the boy had died.
The court also received as evidence a forensic specialist's report, according to which there was no ballistic possibility
that the boy died as a result of IDF fire. In addition, the report claimed that there was no evidence supporting the claim that the boy or his father were even injured, thus reigniting accusations that the video might have been staged after all.
After a long and grueling trail, Karsenty was acquitted.
The network nonetheless appealed and France's appellate court turned the wheels of history back.
The senior al-Dura, who survived the ordeal, relayed his version before the media, showing the scars that he incurred in the incident. The claim prompted Dr. Yehuda David
of Tel Hashomer Hospital to reveal that the scars were actually the result of a surgery the father had undergone years earlier, after he was attacked by Hamas
operatives who suspected him of collaborating with Israel.
Elior Levy contributed to this report
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