Seven years after film of Arab 12-year-old Mohammed Al-Dura allegedly getting shot to death in Gaza was first aired by French television, the director of Israel's Government Press Office (GPO) alleged in writing that the shooting was staged by the Palestinian Authority. However, the Prime Minister's Office then quickly disassociated itself from the GPO director's letter. In France, a judge ordered FRANCE 2, the public TV station that
Soldiers could not possibly have shot Al-Dura.
obtained the original images, to show the complete, uncut footage of the incident, for the first time, in court.
In response to a letter from the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, Government Press Office Director Daniel Seaman wrote, "The creation of the Mohammed Al-Dura myth did great damage to the state of Israel. It was a blood libel against the state."
The GPO decided the September 2000 video was staged based on several factors, Seaman said, including the fact that soldiers could not possibly have shot Al-Dura from the angle at which they were standing, and the fact that crucial parts of the scene are missing from the video footage provided to major media outlets. In addition, the GPO Director noted that the FRANCE 2 cameraman, Talal Abu Rahma, systematically engaged in the "staging of action scenes" during the violent clashes in Gaza at the start of the PA's terror war launched in 2000.
"Without any deep and serious investigation, the global media convicted the State of Israel in the murder of a little boy," Seaman wrote, "and his image remained tattooed and engraved in the collective Arab memory as a symbol for the cruelty of the Zionist nation. ...This libel incited the Arab world and caused many victims in and outside of Israel."
In response to the publication of the letter by the Shurat HaDin legal rights institute on Monday, the Prime Minister's Office denied that the Government Press Office Director's letter represented the position of the government.
In a statement Shurat HaDin indicated that the letter from the GPO, received more than nine months after the organization first wrote to Seaman contending that mounting evidence proved a journalistic fraud perpetrated by FRANCE 2, was insufficient and that it would file a petition with the High Court of Justice against the GPO and against FRANCE 2 compelling the state to remove the French station's journalist credentials.
According to Shurat HaDin Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, "This was perhaps the greatest journalistic hoax perpetrated in the last hundred years. We demand that those who are responsible for this crime will bare the consequences of their actions. The State of Israel cannot simply allow FRANCE 2 to remain in this country."
The Arab youth, Muhammad Al-Dura, allegedly killed by Israeli soldiers in the FRANCE 2 film, became a galvanizing symbol for propaganda in support of terror attacks against Israeli citizens and Jewish communities worldwide.
Uncut Footage to be Shown
Last month, a French appellate judge ordered FRANCE 2 to provide the court with 27 minutes of uncut footage of the events leading up to and including the Al-Dura incident in Gaza. Unlike the lower court, Appellate Court judge Laurence Trébucq decided that the raw film would contribute to the determination if a deliberate news hoax had been perpetrated or not.
The appeal in France was filed by media watchdog Philippe Karsenty, who was found guilty of libeling FRANCE 2 and its correspondent Charles Enderlin for calling the Al-Dura video "a hoax" and a "masquerade that dishonors France and its public television." In a 2006 decision, Karsenty was ordered to pay $6,760 in fines and court costs. His
Mounting evidence proved a journalistic fraud perpetrated by FRANCE 2.
appeal of the case led to last week's discovery order by the French Appellate Court. The film is expected to be viewed by the court next month.
Also last month, Colonel Shlomi Amshalom, the deputy head of the IDF Spokesman's Office, demanded that Enderlin provide the army with the uncut 27 minutes of film. Amshalom requested the full footage shot by Talal Abu-Rahma on September 30, 2000, the day of the alleged killing, as well as the footage shot by Abu-Rahma on the following day. FRANCE 2 did not accede to Amshalom's request before being subsequently ordered to show the film in court.
A thorough IDF investigation of the incident not long after the partial footage was originally aired by FRANCE 2 determined that IDF soldiers could not have been responsible for the shooting of Al-Dura, as had been claimed by the French film crew and Arab media.