The above image sent shock waves throughout the world. In the photo, Jamal Al-Dura cradles his 12 year old son, Muhammad Al-Dura, as blood thirsty Israeli soldiers fired to kill the two. That's at least what Talal Abu-Rahma, the cameraman, and France 2 wanted us to believe. Soon after the footage was shown however, questions (see below) started swirling around the supposed murder. On September 30th 2007, seven years after the horrific lie that provoked unseen bloodshed, Israel finally denied responsibility:
"The creation of the myth of Muhammad al-Dura has caused great damage to the State of Israel. This is an explicit blood libel against the state. And just as blood libels in the old days have led to pogroms, this one has also caused damage and dozens of dead. It turns out that the events could not have occurred as they were described by the network's reporter Charles Enderlin, since they contradict the laws of physics… Furthermore, it was not even possible to hit them (the boy and his father) in the place they were hiding according to the report."
Government Press Office director Daniel Seaman
1. In a documentary on Germany's ARD Channel, Esther Shapiro interviewed Abu-Rahma. Rahma changed his stories regarding the bullet recovery, before claiming, "We have some secrets for ourselves ... We cannot give anything ... everything" (See the interviews in the clip below). Furthermore, Shapiro discovered that before ballistics could be done on the bullet holes behind the Al-Duras, the wall was destroyed.
2. France 2's footage only showed 59 seconds of 27 minutes of raw footage. During these long 59 seconds, Muhammad's death is not shown. The question must be asked, why only 59 seconds? In October 2004, three senior French journalists (Daniel Leconte, a former France 2 employee, Dennis Jeambar, the editor-in-chief of L'Express, and Luc Rosenzweig, a former editor-in-chief of Le Monde) viewed the 27 minutes of footage. Both Jeambar and Leconte said the scene didn't seem staged, but the 'agony' described by France 2 TV reporter Charles Enderlin did not exist. They both also noted that throughout the 27 minutes of footage, there was no scene of Muhammad's death.
4. The aforementioned Leconte would go even further in another interview, where he bluntly said, "The only ones who could hit the child were the Palestinians from their position. If they had been Israeli bullets, they would be very strange bullets because they would have needed to go around the corner"
5. On CBS's renowned '60 minutes', Yosef Duriel concurred with Leconte's views: "Al-Dura's death was staged with the aim of producing an image which would become a symbol and besmirch Israel's reputation around the world. Actors in the staged incident included Palestinian gunmen, a French television cameraman (who received "production instructions"), and the father Jamal al Dura ("who apparently didn't understand that the act would end in the murder of his son"). Duriel mentioned that the father can be seen gesturing to the photographer in the film."
There is no way to undo the damage that Enderlin and Abu-Rahma did with their lies. The lives that were lost on both sides due to the furor this caused will never be restored. However, a few steps are being taken against the two starting with Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Center, which is demanding that the Israeli press credentials of the pair be revoked. France 2's reputation and integrity was challenged by Philippe Karsenty, who called the original broadcast a fake. Although France 2 successfully sued Karsenty for libel (despite the public prosecutor recommending the court rule in his favor), the French judges in the case requested France 2 finally show the withheld 27 minute broadcast. Hopefully when the broadcast is screened next month, more of the truth will be revealed.
For more on the staging of Al-Dura's murder:
"The al-Dura incident wasn't the only media report to inflame passions against Israel in recent years, but it was the one with the highest profile. Moreover, if, as Karsenty and others have claimed persuasively, the al-Dura incident is part of the insidious trend in which Western media outlets allow themselves to be manipulated by dishonest and politically motivated sources, then France 2 must be held accountable."
Natan Sharansky, Jerusalem Post