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Mohammed al-Dura
Photo: AFP

Frenchman convicted of defamation in Mideast case

Pro-Israel activist, French media personality convicted of libel after claiming network which screened infamous Mohammed al-Dura video fabricated footage

A French media analyst has been convicted of defamation for accusing a state television network of staging a video that depicted a young boy being killed in a firefight between Palestinians and Israeli forces.

 

The footage more than a decade ago galvanized Palestinians and anti-Israeli sentiment in the Mideast.

 

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A Paris court fined Philippe Karsenty 7,000 euros Wednesday in the defamation case filed by network France-2.

 

The footage broadcast on September 30, 2000, showed the terrified boy, Mohammed al-Dura, and his father amid a furious exchange of fire in the Gaza Strip. It then cut to the motionless boy slumped in his father's lap. The report blamed Israeli forces for the death.

 

Karsenty called the verdict "outrageous." A lawyer for France-2 said it was a victory for journalists.

 


ג'מאל ומוחמד א-דורה בעת התקרית  (צילום: איי אף פי)

Jamal, Muhammed al-Dura (Photo: AFP)

 

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.

 

At the time, 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.

 

Aviel Mengazi contributed to this report

 

 

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פרסום ראשון: 06.26.13, 17:25
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