Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, at the beginning of a cabinet meeting Sunday morning, “A few minutes ago I spoke with Dr. Yehuda David, an Israeli hero,” referring to the Israeli orthopedist who emerged victorious from court on Wednesday after the French Supreme Court overturned a judgment against Dr. David, who was sued for slander by the father of Muhammed al-Dura.
"The Muhammed al-Dura incident of September 30, 2000, has come to symbolize the ongoing propaganda against the State of Israel. While this war does not involve bullets and missiles, it is, nonetheless, as vicious and as destructive. This war, being fought in the sphere of public diplomacy, propagates lies and libels in an effort to cast Israel as an international pariah and strip her of all legitimacy and credibility."
Netanyahu noted that Dr. David immigrated to Israel and joined the IDF and that his sons also serve in the IDF. "As a reservist, he received a citation for saving lives under fire during the Second Lebanon War, and he lit one of the torches on Independence Day," the Prime Minister stated.
"Dr. David has also lit a greater torch. Not only has he fought for Israel on the military battlefield, he has also fought on the public diplomacy battlefield in the great battle for the truth.
"He set out against the Muhammed al-Dura libel. This mendacious story caused more damage to the state of Israel than any other account in recent years, more than any other libel, and Dr. David set out to puncture this lie with the truth. He fought for five years in a difficult legal campaign.
"We had already decided, even before the result was known, to submit a decision for Cabinet approval to cover his legal costs. Last week, we learned that he had won. His is not only a personal victory,;it is a victory for justice and for truth. It is Israel's victory over Palestinian propaganda's long tale of lies, which is spreading around the world and according to which Israel is guilty even if it is proven otherwise, and even then, Israel is still guilty.”
Netanyahu added that, “I think that it will serve us for many years, but what I would like to commend [him]. Here is the personal example of one man, a Zionist and an Israeli patriot, a proud Jew, who took upon himself an extraordinary fight for truth. He won and his victory is a victory for us all.
"I take my hat off to him. I think that I speak for all ministers. I know that Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein have all assisted in this effort over the years. I congratulate them. I congratulate Israel on this important victory in the public diplomacy war.”
Photographs and video footage of 12 year-old al-Dura being shielded by is father and supposedly shot and killed by IDF bullets at the Netzarim Junction in Gaza on September30, 2000, became the source of worldwide defamation of Israel and helped spark the Oslo War in which some 1300 Israelis were murdered. The France 2 report of the incident claimed that al-Dura was killed by Israeli gunfire, but a subsequent investigation by Israel and additional footage showed the boy lifting his head, opening his eyes and lifting his arm after being pronounced dead. Other evidence showed that if he was hit, it had to be by Arab bullets, due to his location. Philippe Karsenty, a French journalist, was sued for libel in 2004 by France 2 for saying that the film of Al-Dura’s death, which accused Israeli forces of killing him, was distorted and false. He, too, was vindicated.