A Paris appellant court on Tuesday overturned a ruling exonerating a French-Jewish politician who claimed that a France 2 TV report suggesting that the IDF killed Palestinian boy Mohammed al-Dura was staged.
A libel suit filed against Philippe Karsenty had once been rejected but will now return to court. The France 2 report caused a global stir and caused grave damage to Israel's image.
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Just a couple of weeks ago the French Supreme Court acquitted Israeli doctor Yehuda David, who was accused of slandering a Palestinian man who claimed he was injured by the IDF during the second intifada. The court declared the doctor's claims were truthful, but left the main controversy of al-Dura's death unresolved.
This time around, the French court accepted France 2's appeal against Karsenty, who will once again be forced to prove his innocence.
The Palestinian man, Jamal al-Dura, and his 12-year-old son Mohammed, became the symbol of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, when the two were caught in a fire exchange in the Netzarim Junction. But while the Palestinians blamed Israel for the boy's death, Israeli officials claimed he was hit by Palestinian fire.
France 2 first sued Karsenty in 2004, after the latter claimed the TV station's news report from September 30, 2000 included fabricated video footage. The footage of the shooting, by a Palestinian photographer, suggested that the IDF was responsible for the boy's death. The heartrending report shocked the world and led to much criticism against the IDF.
Initially the IDF accepted responsibility for killing the child and injuring his father, but later an inquiry commission found that the two were likely hit by Palestinian fire.
'Israel should intervene'
On his website, Karsenty claimed that the whole report was fabricated from start to finish. According to him, its purpose was to degrade Israel and display the Palestinians as the victims.
Karsenty accused France 2 of fabricating the events which led to al-Dura's death. Shortly thereafter, the TV station filed a libel suit against him. A French court rejected claims that the footage was fake, but Karsenty decided not to give up and appealed the ruling.
The controversy was reignited in 2007, when a French court ordered the network to screen the complete footage in court which then ruled against the slander charges. In the full footage, al-Dura is seen raising his hand and leg and moving after the reporter announced his death. No blood marks were seen on his cloths.
However, France 2 reporter Charles Enderlin insisted nonetheless that the court did not rule regarding the authenticity of the video, or the conclusions it raises, but rather on the fact that the father's scars predated the 2000 injuries. He also maintained that there is no evidence suggesting the father participated in fabricating the event. According to Enderlin, it is important not to draw conclusions on the case from the slander trials.
A French forensics expert explained to the court the ballistic impossibility of the child being killed by IDF fire, claiming there is no conclusive proof that al-Dura was even injured or killed, concluding it was most likely a fake video.
After a grueling trial, Karsenty was acquitted, however now he is expected to appear before the court once again.
"The court has accepted our claims and revoked that strange acquittal from three and half years ago," an official from France 2 TV said Tuesday.
Dr. Yehuda David, who has been in touch with Karsenty, was disappointed with the decision, calling the State of Israel to open its own investigation.
"It's a political game and it's turning into a catastrophe. If the State of Israel doesn't initiate its own governmental probe into the matter… justice will not be done. The French government doesn't want to recognize this report's mistake and if we don't unequivocally prove that al-Dura wasn't killed by IDF fire, and we have the tools to do so – we'll lose the political diplomacy battle."
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