A French judge has ordered a TV news organization to release long-secret video footage that may prove the most cherished icon and inspiration for Palestinian suicide bombers – the widely reported death of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura at the hands of Israeli soldiers – was a brazen fraud.
The Sept. 30, 2000, incident in Gaza – in which the boy apparently died in his father’s arms during a firefight between Israeli military and Palestinian gunman – was captured on videotape and broadcast repeatedly worldwide. The image of the boy in his death throes was turned into posters lining the streets of Palestinian areas; Palestinian TV portrayed an actor pretending to be Mohammed, now in “Paradise,” exhorting other Muslim youth to jihad; an Egyptian street was named after the boy, and on and on.
Three years lager, drawing on still more independent studies of the al-Dura affair, WND detailed stunning evidence that a vast pattern of fabrication, fraud and deception characterized the events at Gaza’s Netzarim Junction that day.
WND Managing Editor David Kupelian, who wrote WND’s reports, even showcased the al-Dura affair as an example of media manipulation of reality in his book, “The Marketing of Evil.” He wrote:
Although the Israeli military initially assumed responsibility for the incident, it soon became apparent that the Israelis could not have shot the boy, due to a large barrier between the Israeli military outpost across the remote junction in Gaza and the position of the boy and his father.
In 2003 an independent journalistic investigation concluded that the al-Dura affair was actually a piece of Palestinian street theater, similar to the dramatic Palestinian funeral processions that were observed after the Israeli incursion into the Jenin refugee camp. During that public spectacle, a martyred “corpse” twice fell off the stretcher, only to hop back up and retake his place in the procession. (The Palestinians had claimed 3,000 deaths in Jenin – the actual toll turned out to be 52.)
It turns out many Palestinians were playing to the camera on the day Mohammed al-Dura was “martyred.” Israeli commentator Amnon Lord’s account of the larger scene at Netzarim Junction when the boy was supposedly shot to death describes “incongruous battle scenes complete with wounded combatants and screeching ambulances played out in front of an audience of laughing onlookers, while makeshift movie directors do retakes of botched scenes.”
Palestinian journalist Sami El Soudi echoes Lord’s observation, revealing that “almost all Palestinian directors take part more or less voluntarily in these war commissions, under the official pretext that we should use all possible means, including trickery and fabulation, to fight against the tanks and airplanes the enemy has and we don’t. … Our official press reported 300 wounded and dead at Netzarim junction the day when Mohammed was supposedly killed. Most of the cameramen there were Palestinians. … They willingly took part in the masquerade, filming fictional scenes, believing they were doing it out of patriotism. When a scene was well done the onlookers laughed and applauded.”
“It is incredible,” says French journalist G?rard Huber, “how many people were calmly filming the battle of Netzarim on September 30th, 2000. Not only professionals – some of them standing no more than 10 meters away from the al-Dura incident – but amateurs as well. The rushes are full of surprising incongruities: Children smile as ambulances go by. A ‘wounded’ Palestinian collapses and two seconds later an ambulance pulls up to take him to the hospital. It looks as if the driver had been cued in, knew in advance where the Palestinian was going to fall, or was waiting in the upper right hand corner just out of the photographic field ready to zoom in on signal.”
For years, Huber and other investigators, notably Philippe Karsenty, director of the media watchdog group Media-Ratings, have been trying to get France 2, the news organization that captured and distributed the damning video worldwide, to release the entire footage. Videotaped by Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahma, the unedited footage has been held tightly by France 2 for seven years. Why wouldn’t the French TV station release the entire videotape to help clear up all the controversy? It clamed the images of young al-Dura in his death throes was just too gruesome, and wanted to spare others the agony of watching the disturbing footage.
A French judge thinks otherwise, and has finally ordered France 2 to release the approximately 25 minutes of raw video footage.
After Karsenty called France 2’s exclusive video of the incident “a hoax,” he was found guilty of slander in a French court – without France 2’s video evidence ever making an appearance in the case. It was during Karsenty’s appeal of that decision that the appeals judge made the decision Wednesday that the video be released. Although Karsenty called the court’s decision a victory, his attorney Marc Levy said, “This is only the first step in a victory.”
France 2 has until Nov. 14 to turn over the video to the court. Several French and U.S. journalists who have seen the raw footage have reportedly said the shooting might have been staged by Palestinians.
One of many indications the scene was staged is evident in already-available video footage – cut from the televised France 2 report of the “murder” – but obtained by and posted on the Second Draft website, which has mounted a major investigative effort on the al-Dura affair. In the clip, Mohammed, whom France 2 reporter Charles Enderlin has already pronounced dead, lifts up his arm and head and looks around, before resuming the “dead” position.
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