Muhammad al-Durrah incident

Muhammad al-Durrah incident
Muhammad al-Durrah incident
A man with black hair wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt crouches behind a wall and a white concrete cylinder. With his right hand, he is grasping the arm of a young boy, also with black hair, who is crouching on the ground behind him. The boy is wearing blue jeans, brown sandals, and a blue and white top. His right hand is holding onto the man's t-shirt. He looks as though he is crying. Behind them, the wall is made up of concrete blocks. The man's head is slightly down, and he is looking to his left.
Jamal and Muhammad al-Durrah filmed by Talal Abu Rahma for France 2
Date September 30, 2000 (2000-09-30)
Time circa 15:00 hours (Israel Summer Time); noon GMT
Location Netzarim junction, Gaza Strip
First reporter Charles Enderlin for France 2
Filmed by Talal Abu Rahma
Reported deaths: Muhammad al-Durrah; Bassam al-Bilbeisi, an ambulance driver; and an unnamed jeep driver
Jamal al-Durrah reported with multiple gunshot wounds
Suspect(s) Israel Defense Forces, Palestinian National Security Forces, Palestinian gunmen
Conviction(s) None
Footage Original France 2 report,
and the raw footage.

The Muhammad al-Durrah incident took place in the Gaza Strip on September 30, 2000, on the second day of the Second Intifada, amid widespread rioting throughout the Palestinian territories. Jamal al-Durrah and his 12-year-old son, Muhammad, were filmed by Talal Abu Rahma, a Palestinian cameraman freelancing for France 2, as they sought cover behind a concrete cylinder after being caught in crossfire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian security forces. The footage, which lasts just over a minute, shows the pair holding onto each other, the boy crying and the father waving, then a burst of gunfire and dust, after which the boy is seen slumped across his father's legs.[1]

Fifty-nine seconds of the scene were broadcast in France with a voiceover from Charles Enderlin, France 2's bureau chief in Israel, who did not witness the incident, telling viewers that the al-Durrahs had been the "target of fire from the Israeli positions," and that the boy had died.[2] After an emotional public funeral, Muhammad was hailed throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds as a martyr. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) accepted responsibility at first, a position they formally withdrew in September 2007.[3]

In the following months and years, several commentators questioned the accuracy of France 2's report. An IDF investigation in October 2000 concluded the IDF had probably not shot the al-Durrahs.[4] Three senior French journalists who saw the raw footage in 2004 said it was not clear from the footage alone that the boy had died, and that France 2 cut a final few seconds in which he appeared to lift his hand from his face. France 2's news editor said in 2005 that no one could say for sure who fired the shots, but other commentators, including the director of the Israeli government press office, went further, saying the scene had been staged by Palestinian protesters. Philippe Karsenty, a French media commentator, was sued for libel by France 2 for suggesting this; a ruling against him was overturned by the Paris Court of Appeal in May 2008, a decision France 2 has appealed.[5]

The footage of the father and son acquired what one writer called the power of a battle flag. For the Palestinians, it confirmed their view of the apparently limitless nature of Israel's brutality toward them, while for sections of the Israeli and Jewish communities the allegations were a modern blood libel, the ancient antisemitic association of Jews with child sacrifice. The scene was evoked in other deaths. It was blamed for the October 2000 lynching of two Israeli army reservists in Ramallah, and was seen in the background when Daniel Pearl, a Jewish-American journalist, was beheaded by al-Qaeda in 2002.[6] James Fallows writes that no version of the truth about the footage will ever emerge that all sides consider believable. Charles Enderlin has called it a cultural prism, its viewers seeing what they want to see.[7]


Political background

A city scene. In the centre, a large building topped by a golden dome.
Rioting followed Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount

On September 28, 2000, two days before the shooting, the Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Temple Mount contains the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam, making its rules of access hotly contested. Sharon's visit was seen as provocative—the trigger for the violence that followed according to the Palestinians, or the pretext according to the Israelis[8]—and protests escalated into widespread violence across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.[9] The uprising became known as the Second, or Al-Aqsa, Intifada, named after the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount. It lasted over four years and cost 4,000 lives, around 3,000 of them Palestinian.[10]

The Netzarim junction, known locally as the al-Shohada (martyrs') junction after the Palestinians who have died there in clashes with Israeli soldiers, lies a few kilometers south of Gaza City (at 31°27′54″N 34°25′36″E / 31.465129°N 34.426689°E / 31.465129; 34.426689).[11] The source of the dispute at the junction was the nearby Netzarim settlement where—until Israel's withdrawal in 2005—60 Israeli families lived; they were allowed to enter and leave the settlement only with a military convoy. An Israeli military outpost, Magen-3, guarded the approach to the settlement, and had been the scene of a series of violent incidents in the days before the shooting.[12]


Jamal and Muhammad al-Durrah

A map showing part of Israel, and to the west, the Gaza Strip and the Mediterranean Sea. To the south, part of Egypt is shown.
The Bureij refugee camp, Netzarim settlement, and the Netzarim junction

Jamal (born c. 1966) lived with his wife Amal and their seven children in the UNRWA-run Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Jamal was a carpenter and house painter who had worked for Moshe Tamam, an Israeli contractor, for 20 years. Israeli writer Helen Schary Motro came to know him when she had employed him to help build her house. She wrote in 2000 of his years of rising at 3:30 am to catch the bus to the border crossing at four, then a second bus out of Gaza so he could be at work by six. The border was closed on the day of the incident because of the rioting, which is why Jamal was not at work.[13] Muhammad (born 1988) was in fifth grade, but his school was closed that day because of the protests.[14] His mother said he had been watching the rioting on television and asked if he could join in.[15] Father and son decided instead to go to a car auction, according to an interview Jamal gave Abu Rahma in hospital the day after the shooting.[16]

Charles Enderlin

Charles Enderlin was born in 1945 in Paris. He moved to Jerusalem in 1968 where, Jewish himself, he became an Israeli national. He began in journalism in 1971, and after studying film and television he started working for France 2 in 1981, becoming their bureau chief in Israel in 1990. He is the author of several books about the Middle East, and is highly respected within the French establishment. He is married to Danielle Kriegel, the daughter of historian Annie Kriegel, and cousin of philosopher Blandine Kriegel, a former aide to President Jacques Chirac.[2] During a 2006 libel action he brought against Philippe Karsenty, who alleges the incident was staged by protesters (see below), Enderlin submitted a letter from Chirac, who wrote in flattering terms of his integrity.[17] In August 2009 he was awarded France's highest decoration, the Légion d'honneur.[18]

Journalist Anne-Elisabeth Moutet writes that Enderlin's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is regularly criticized in Israel. He not only produced a documentary series on the Oslo Accords and the 2000 Camp David talks, but arranged for parties to the peace talks to hold discussions at the France 2 bureau as neutral ground.[2] The criticism reached the point in 2008 that the Israel Law Center unsuccessfully asked a court to revoke his Israeli press credentials.[19] Like Talal Abu Rahma, Enderlin has expressed astonishment at the allegation that the shooting was faked.[20]

Talal Abu Rahma

Talal Hassan Abu Rahma, who lived in Gaza, had worked as a freelance cameraman for France 2 since 1988. He ran his own press office, the National News Center in Gaza, and contributed to CNN through the Al-Wataneya Press Office.[21] He studied business administration in the U.S., and was a board member of the Palestinian Journalists' Association. He won a number of awards for his coverage of the al-Durrah story, including the Rory Peck Award in 2001,[22] though Israeli military officials stopped him from traveling to London to receive the award for security reasons.[23] France 2 correspondent, Gérard Grizbec, wrote in 2008 that Abu Rahma had never been a member of a Palestinian political group, had twice been arrested by Palestinian police for filming images that did not meet the approval of Yasser Arafat, and had never been accused of security breaches by Israel.[24] Daniel Seaman, director of the Israeli government press office, accused Abu Rahma on September 23, 2007 of the "systematic staging of action scenes," with reference to the al-Durrah footage,[25] in a letter France 2 said was full of slander and half-truths.[26] "I'm a professional journalist," Abu Rahma said in 2001. "I will never do it. I will never use journalism for anything ... because journalism is my religion. Journalism—it's my nationality. Even journalism is my language!"[27]

The scene on the day

Netzarim junction layout

The Netzarim junction is a right-angle intersection of two roads. In the lower right/north west quadrant there was an abandoned warehouse, two six-story buildings known as the "twins," and a two-story IDF outpost, Magen-3.[28] On the day of the incident—Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year—it was manned by 18 Israeli soldiers from the Givati Brigade Engineering Platoon and the Herev Battalion.[29]

A colored diagram. In the middle, a crossroads. At the top it says, "Le Carrefour de Netzarim vu d'Helicoptere." On the upper left side of the crossroads, a blue circle with an image inside it of figures crouching, and above the circle, the words "Al Doura." Two yellow boxes in the upper and lower left side of the crossroads, say "Poste palestinian," and "Poste palestinian PITA." A blue box in the lower left says "Talal Abou Ramah." In the lower right corner, another yellow box says "Postes palestinians," and below that, a green box says, "Poste israelien." A smaller yellow box says "Palestinian shooting." There are red arrows pointing in several directions, and blue arrows pointing diagonally across the junction.
Talal Abu Rahma, the France 2 cameraman, included this diagram in an affidavit he swore in October 2000 in the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza.[21]  
A colored diagram. In the middle, a crossroads. At the top it says, "Le Carrefour de Netzarim vu d'Helicoptere." On the upper left side of the crossroads, a blue circle with an image inside it of figures crouching, and above the circle, the words "Al Doura." Two yellow boxes in the upper and lower left side of the crossroads, say "Poste palestinian," and "Poste palestinian PITA." A blue box in the lower left says "Talal Abou Ramah." In the lower right corner, another yellow box says "Postes palestinians," and below that, a green box says, "Poste israelien." A smaller yellow box says "Palestinian shooting." There are red arrows pointing in several directions, and blue arrows pointing diagonally across the junction.
A ballistics expert commissioned by Philippe Karsenty presented this diagram to the Paris Court of Appeal in 2008. It included a position called the "pita" (see lower left quadrant), where several sources say Palestinian police officers stood, armed with automatic rifles; see below.[30] This position did not appear on the France 2 cameraman's diagram (see left), which marks that area as "Fields".  

Diagonally across from the IDF position, on the upper left quadrant, was a small building housing a Palestinian police post under the command of Brigadier-General Osama al-Ali, a member of the Palestine National Council.[31] In front of it was a sidewalk along which ran a concrete wall. This was the wall Jamal and Muhammad crouched against. The upper right and lower left of the crossroads consisted of vacant land. According to several commentators—such as James Fallows in The Atlantic in 2003, and a diagram prepared in 2008 by a French ballistics expert (above right)—the lower left quadrant contained a circular dirt berm known locally as the "pita," because it was shaped like pita bread. Fallows writes that a group of uniformed Palestinian policemen stood on the pita, armed with automatic rifles.[30] The "pita" position is not mentioned in the diagram produced by the France 2 cameraman, which marks the position only as "Fields" (see above left).

News organizations and protesters

Abu Rahma said that Palestinian protesters had gathered from around seven in the morning on September 30, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails, and the IDF had returned rubber bullets and tear gas.[32] Several cameramen were there, including from Reuters and the Associated Press, both of whom captured moments showing the al-Durrahs,[33] but the crucial minute of footage was captured only by Abu Rahma.

James Fallows writes that the rushes (raw footage) from these cameramen show scenes involving several hundred protesters. Groups of young men are seen walking around, joking, sitting down, and smoking. Other scenes show them yelling and throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. Some run around waving the Palestinian flag and try to pull down an Israeli flag. Several had pistols and rifles, as did the Palestinian policemen, and shots occasionally ring out. In some scenes protesters duck for cover, while others continue talking and smoking just feet away. One protester is seen falling and clutching his leg as if shot; an ambulance appears immediately to pick him up. Fallows writes that one camera caught a man being loaded into an ambulance, while footage from a different camera shows the same man jumping out of the ambulance a few minutes later. Several scenes show smoke coming from M16s pointed through the slits of the IDF outpost. According to Israeli spokesmen, the soldiers were under orders to fire only if they were fired at, and not in response to rocks or other objects being thrown at them. There is no obvious link between any of the scenes, which according to Fallows gain narrative coherence only when packaged together for a news report.[8]

Several commentators agree there was at least some play acting that day. Denis Jeambar, editor of L'Express, and Daniel Leconte, a former France 2 correspondent, who were invited by France 2 to view the rushes in 2004, said that a network official told them, "You know it's always like that."[34] Enderlin responded that just because scenes are played out for the camera does not mean they are not also real.[35]

Incident as initially reported

Jamal and Muhammad's arrival at the junction

After leaving the auction Jamal and Muhammad took a cab home. They arrived at the Netzarim junction around noon, according to Time magazine,[36] though that timing has been disputed. Abu Rahma says the "intensive shooting" began around noon, and his attention was drawn at around that time to Jamal and Muhammad by Shams Oudeh, a Reuters cameraman who briefly took shelter with them behind the concrete drum.[21] Fallows writes that Jamal and Muhammad first appear on the footage around 3 pm (GMT+3), and Enderlin's report said the shooting took place at 3 pm. The discrepancies have not been resolved; see below.

When he saw the demonstrators, the cab driver reportedly refused to go any further, or was stopped by a policeman.[14] As Jamal and Muhammad were about to cross the junction on foot, Palestinian gunmen started shooting at the Israeli soldiers, and the Israelis returned fire.[36] They waited until it had stopped, then crossed the road. The shooting started again, and Jamal, Muhammad, and Oudeh, the Reuters cameraman, crouched against the concrete wall in the upper left/south east quadrant of the crossroads, diagonally across from the Israeli outpost. They used a three-foot-tall (0.91 m) concrete drum that was lying against the wall as cover.[21] A large paving stone sat on top of the drum, which offered further protection.[8] The Reuters cameraman later moved away, and Jamal and Muhammad were left there alone.

The shooting and the France 2 reports

Man and a boy crouching behind a concrete drum; the man is waving
Muhammad and Jamal under fire
The same scene as above, but from a distance. There is a large wall behind the two figures, who are almost hidden by a cloud of dust. The man's head is hanging down.
The camera goes out of focus as a burst of gunfire is heard.
The same scene again. The man is sitting with his head hanging to his right. The boy is lying over the man's knees, with his right hand over his face. Four small holes can be seen in the wall behind them.
As the dust clears, Muhammad lies across his father's legs. This was the last frame of the al-Durrahs that was broadcast by France 2. In the raw footage shortly after this frame, the boy is seen to move his arm.[37] Enderlin later said he cut that scene to spare the audience, because the boy was in his death throes ("agonie").[38] Critics say the boy was peeking at the camera.[39] Three senior French journalists who viewed the rushes say they show no death throes; see below.[40]

Abu Rahma was the only cameraman to record the incident. He swore in an affidavit on October 3, 2000, that he had filmed 27 minutes of the incident which he said had lasted 45 minutes.[21] Around 64 seconds of his footage is focused on Jamal and Muhammad. The tape was edited for broadcast down to fifty-nine seconds of the scene with the al-Durrahs; Enderlin then added a voiceover. The footage shows Jamal and Muhammad crouching behind the cylinder, the child screaming and the father shielding him. Jamal is seen waving toward the Israeli position, and appears to shout something in the direction of the cameraman. There is a burst of gunfire and the camera goes out of focus. When the gunfire subsides, the footage shows Jamal sitting upright, appearing to have been injured, and Muhammad lying over his legs.[1]

Ambulances were called but were delayed by the shooting. Bassam al-Bilbeisi, the driver of the first ambulance to arrive, was reported to have been shot and killed, as was a Palestinian jeep driver.[41] Abu Rahma said Muhammad lay bleeding for at least 17 minutes before an ambulance was able to pick him up, though no film was taken at that point.[42] The boy and his father were eventually taken to the nearby Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Talal Abu Rahma telephoned the hospital, who told him three bodies had been delivered: that of a jeep driver, an ambulance driver, and a boy, who was initially named as Rami Al-Durrah.[43] Some confusion remains about the sequence of events; see below.

The 59 seconds of footage were first broadcast on France 2's nightly news at 8:00 pm local time (GMT+2), after which France 2 distributed several minutes of raw footage around the world without charge.[32] Enderlin's voiceover said:

1500 hours, everything has just erupted near the settlement of Netzarim, in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians have shot live bullets, the Israelis are responding. Emergency medical technicians, journalists, passersby are caught in the crossfire. Here, Jamal and his son Mohamed are the target of fire from the Israeli positions. Mohamed is twelve, his father is trying to protect him. He is motioning...

Another burst of fire. Mohamed is dead and his father seriously wounded. A Palestinian policeman and an ambulance driver have also lost their lives in the course of this battle.[44]

Jamal and Muhammad's injuries, funeral

The pathologist gave this image to journalists.[45]

Muhammad was reported to have sustained multiple gunshot wounds.[46] Time magazine said he had received a fatal wound to the abdomen,[36] confirmed by pathologist Dr Abed El-Razeq El Masry, who said the boy's intestines had been expelled. The pathologist's post-mortem photographs were seen by the French channel Canal+ in 2008 and showed the body with injuries to the abdomen (but see below).[47] During an emotional public funeral in the Bureij refugee camp that day, the boy was wrapped in a Palestinian flag and buried before sundown, in accordance with Muslim tradition.[48]

Jamal was reported to have been struck by several bullets, some of which were removed from his arm and pelvis.[49] Dr Ahmed Ghadeel of the Al-Shifa Hospital said Jamal received multiple wounds from high-velocity bullets striking his right elbow, his right thigh, and several locations in the lower part of both legs; his femoral artery was also cut. He was filmed by Talal Abu Rahma for France 2 at the hospital the day after the incident. Dr Ghadeel was also interviewed, showing x-rays of Jamal's right elbow and right pelvis.[50] Jamal's Israeli employer offered to have him taken to an Israeli hospital, but the Palestinian Authority, or Jamal himself, declined the offer.[13] He was flown instead to the King Hussein Medical Centre in Amman, Jordan, where he was visited by King Abdullah. Doctors there said his right hand would be permanently paralyzed.[51] The nature of his injuries was questioned in 2007 by an Israeli doctor; the doctor's allegations were dismissed as defamation in 2011 by a Paris court (see below).[52]

Cameraman's account

Enderlin based his allegation that the IDF had shot the boy on the report of the cameraman, Abu Rahma.[53] The Guardian quoted Abu Rahma saying of the IDF: "They were aiming at the boy, and that is what surprised me, yes, because they were shooting at him, not only one time, but many times."[15] Abu Rahma said shooting was also coming from the Palestinian National Security Forces outpost south of the junction, behind the spot where Jamal and Muhammad were crouching, but he said they were not shooting when Muhammad was hit. The Israeli fire was being directed at this Palestinian outpost, he said. There was another Palestinian outpost 30 meters away. He said his attention was drawn to the child by Shams Oudeh, the Reuters photographer who for a time crouched beside Jamal and Muhammad behind the cylinder.[21] Abu Rahma told National Public Radio on October 1, 2000:

... I saw the boy getting injured in his leg, and the father asking for help. Then I saw him getting injured in his arm, the father. The father was asking the ambulances to help him, because he could see the ambulances. I cannot see the ambulance ... I wasn't far away, maybe from them [Jamal and Muhammad] face to face about 15 meters, 17 meters. But the father didn't succeed to get the ambulance by waving to them. He looked at me and he said, "Help me." I said, "I cannot, I can't help you." The shooting till then was really heavy ... It was really raining bullets, for more than for 45 minutes. Then I find, I hear something, "boom!" Really is coming with a lot of dust. I looked at the boy, I filmed the boy lying down in the father's lap, and the father really, getting really injured, and he was really dizzy. I said, "Oh my god, the boy's got killed, the boy's got killed," I was screaming, I was losing my mind. While I was filming, the boy got killed ...[54]

An hour later, after the al-Durrahs had been evacuated by ambulance, Abu Rahma managed to escape from the scene, he said. In 2002 he told German journalist Esther Schapira that he hid behind a white minivan for safety while he was filming, and that it was around 15 minutes after the shooting ended before he felt it was safe to drive to his studio in Gaza to send the footage by satellite to France 2's bureau in Jerusalem,[55] where Enderlin watched the footage and compiled his report. An affidavit sworn by Abu Rahma on October 3, 2000, says the Israeli soldiers shot the boy in cold blood: "I can assert that shooting at the child Mohammed and his father Jamal came from the above-mentioned Israeli military outpost, as it was the only place from which shooting at the child and his father was possible. So, by logic and nature, my long experience in covering hot incidents and violent clashes, and my ability to distinguish sounds of shooting, I can confirm that the child was intentionally and in cold blood shot dead and his father injured by the Israeli army."[21] The affidavit was given to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, and signed by the cameraman in the presence of Raji Sourani, a human rights lawyer. France 2's communications director, Christine Delavennat, later said Abu Rahma denied having accused the Israeli army of firing at the boy in cold blood, and that this had been falsely attributed to him.[34]

Israeli response

Isaac Herzog, Israeli Cabinet Secretary, said the Palestinian police could have stopped the shooting.[46]

The position of the Israeli government and IDF changed over time, from accepting responsibility in October 2000 to retracting that admission in September 2007.[3] The IDF's first response when Enderlin contacted them before his broadcast was that the Palestinians "make cynical use of women and children," which he decided not to air.[26] The day after the shooting, the IDF issued a statement saying it was impossible to determine the origin of the fire.[41] On October 3, the Israeli army's chief of operations, Major-General Giora Eiland, said the shots had apparently been fired by Israeli soldiers; the soldiers had been shooting from small slits in the wall, he said, and had not had a clear field of vision.[51] Second Lieutenant Idan Quris, who was at the time in command of an engineering platoon at the Israeli outpost, and Lieutenant-Colonel Nizar Fares of the Herev Battalion, at the time acting commander of the outpost, said they did not know who killed the boy, and that no one had seen him from the Israeli position.[56] The Israeli Cabinet Secretary, Isaac Herzog, said that Palestinian security forces could have intervened. "[I]f Palestinian policemen had wanted to save the boy," he told the BBC, "they could have walked into the square, said 'Stop the fire'... and rescued the kid". He said the Israelis had been trying to speak to Palestinian commanders for hours.[46]

In late October 2000, IDF's southern commander, Major General Yom Tov Samia, set up a controversial team of largely non-military investigators (see below), who concluded that the IDF was probably, or certainly, not responsible, depending on who was issuing the statement. The investigators' report was not published, but was presented in 2001 to the prime minister's foreign media adviser, Ra'anan Gissin, and Daniel Seaman, director of the Israeli government press office. Gissin and Seaman began to challenge France 2 in media interviews, to the point where the network threatened the prime minister's office three times with legal action. In 2005, Major-General Eiland publicly retracted the army's admission of responsibility, and in September 2007 a government press office statement to that effect was approved by the prime minister's office. Seaman writes that this was done, at least in part, because Israel's reluctance to support Philippe Karsenty in the libel action France 2 had brought against him (see below)—based on an unwillingness to appear to interfere in another state's legal proceedings—was being misinterpreted as a validation of the France 2 report.[3]



Next to the view that Israeli gunfire killed the boy, two alternative narratives emerged, known as the "minimalist" and "maximalist" narratives. The "minimalist" narrative is that Palestinian gunfire caused his death, or that no one knows who did. The "maximalist" narrative is that the incident was staged by the Palestinians for propaganda purposes—without Enderlin's knowledge—and that the boy may not be dead at all, or may have been killed as part of the staging.[26]

The controversy centers on two areas: the raw footage and its interpretation by Enderlin, and the lack of any investigation into the boy's death. There is confusion about when the incident occurred, how much footage was shot, why it was blurred at the moment the shots were fired, why France 2 cut the final scene, and what time the boy arrived at the hospital. No ballistic tests were conducted.[57] Within days of the incident, the IDF demolished the wall and concrete cylinder the al-Durrahs had sheltered against; they said they did this to remove hiding places for snipers.[58] There is no evidence that bullets were recovered, whether from the scene, from the bodies, or from Jamal. There was no full autopsy, though a pathologist did examine the boy's body.[8] In an interview with Esther Schapira in 2002, Abu Rahma, the cameraman, said bullets had indeed been recovered. He suggested Schapira ask a named Palestinian general about them. The general told Schapira that he had no bullets, and that there had been no Palestinian investigation because there was no doubt as to who had shot the boy. When told the general had no bullets, Abu Rahma said that France 2 had collected bullets at the scene. He said: "We have some secrets for ourselves ... We cannot give anything ... everything."[55]

Confusion about timeline

Confusion has also arisen about the timeline, some reports suggesting the boy was shot before ten in the morning; others at noon; others at three in the afternoon. Even within France 2 itself there is unresolved confusion, with the cameraman placing the shooting around noon local time, while Enderlin's report—which aired on France 2's nightly news program at 8:00 pm (GMT+2)—gave the time as 3:00 pm Israeli local time (GMT+3).[59] James Fallows wrote in The Atlantic in 2003 that Jamal and Muhammad first made an appearance in the footage at 3:00 pm (GMT+3), arguing that the time can be judged by later comments from Jamal and some journalists on the scene, and by the length of the shadows.[8] Brian Whitaker wrote in The Guardian in 2000 that the news first arrived in London from the Associated Press at 6:00 pm BST (GMT+1), followed minutes later by a similar report from Reuters.[60]

Contradicting the 3 pm timeline, Mohammed Tawil, the doctor who admitted Muhammad to the Al-Shifa Hospital, told Esther Schapira that he was admitted around 10:00 am (GMT+3).[61] Abu Rahma, the France 2 cameraman, insisted that the intensive shooting had begun at noon.[21] According to Stéphane Juffa of the Israeli Metula News Agency, another doctor at the Shifa hospital, Dr. Joumaa Saka, said that Muhammad was admitted before 1:00 pm.[62] Fallows said he saw a hospital report saying a dead boy with an eight-inch (20-cm) cut down his belly was admitted at 1:00 pm. Fallows also said there was a discrepancy regarding the time of the funeral. A boy wrapped in a Palestinian flag, with his face exposed, who Fallows said looked like Muhammad, was carried through the streets of the refugee camp in front of thousands of mourners. Several news organizations said this occurred on the evening of September 30. Fallows said it appeared to take place in full sunlight, with shadows suggesting it was midday.[8]

In addition to confusion about the timing, early reports named the boy as Rami Aldura.[60] Abu Rahma explained later that it was believed his name was Rami until a local CBS stringer, who was married to Jamal's sister, identified the couple in the footage as Jamal and Muhammad al-Durrah.[63] This early confusion over times and names is one of the arguments Esther Schapira advances for her hypothesis that two boys were involved in shooting incidents that day (see below).[64]

October 2000: IDF investigation

Shaul Mofaz, the IDF's Chief of Staff at the time, said the investigation had not been initiated by the IDF's General Staff.[65]

Major General Yom Tov Samia, the IDF's southern commander, set up a team of investigators shortly after the incident, though the extent to which it was an official investigation remains unclear. IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz said the team was put together by Samia alone, not by the IDF's General Staff,[65] but Daniel Seaman, the Israeli government's press spokesman, said in 2008 that the investigation was an official one by virtue of Samia's rank.[3] James Fallows writes that Israeli commentators questioned the legitimacy of it as soon as it started; Haaretz called it "almost a pirate endeavour."[8] The team appears to have been led by Nahum Shahaf, a physicist, and Joseph Doriel, an engineer and former director of the Israel Institute of Productivity.[66] The team included Meir Danino, a physicist and chief scientist at Elisra Systems; Bernie Schechter, a ballistics expert and former head of the weapons laboratory at the Israel's police criminal identification laboratory; and Chief Superintendent Elliot Springer, also from the criminal identification lab. A full list of names was never released, and a request by Haaretz to see the team's order of appointment was turned down.[26]

Nahum Shahaf is known as one of the leading developers of pilotless light aircraft and video instrumentation, and was awarded a medal in 1997 by the Israeli Ministry of Science for his work on compressing digital video transmission.[67] He had previously worked as an inventor, and for a time was a hang-glider instructor in California. According to Anat Cygielman in Haaretz, Shahaf was involved in some of the conspiracy theories surrounding the murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.[68] Shahaf contacted Samia shortly after the al-Durrah incident to say he had noticed an anomaly, namely that the concrete drum itself seemed undamaged, though the people sheltering behind it were alleged to have been hit from a direction that should have seen the drum punctured too.[8] He suggested that he and Doriel—they knew each other from previous discussions about the Rabin assassination, according to Cygielman[68]—be engaged to conduct an investigation, free of charge. Enderlin said that Shahaf wrote to him requesting a copy of the unedited footage, saying it was for "various professional audiences, including film schools," with the name of a company, Eye to Eye Communications, next to his signature.[31] Enderlin declined, and was subsequently concerned to learn that Shahaf was associated with an IDF inquiry.[68]


Because General Samia had destroyed the wall and the concrete drum, Shahaf and Doriel built models of the wall, the drum, and the IDF post in a location near Beersheba in the Negev desert. Fallows writes that the concrete drum with its two-inch-thick walls, which sat between the al-Durrahs and the Israeli line of fire, can be seen in the footage with a mark from the Israeli Bureau of Standards. This allowed Shahaf and Doriel to determine its dimensions and composition. They used mannequins to represent the al-Durrahs, then reproduced the shooting using M16 rounds. Each bullet made an indentation in the drum of two-fifths to four-fifths of an inch deep. Footage taken by Abu Rahma for France 2 the day after the incident does show ten indentations on the side of the drum that faced the IDF, but photographs of the drum reportedly show no damage on the side that the al-Durrahs were huddled against. That is, no bullets went right through the drum, Shahaf and Doriel concluded. They also concluded that the round shape of the bullet holes in the wall showed the fire did not come from the IDF. They fired into the reconstructed concrete wall from different angles, and found that, to produce a round hole, they had to fire from more or less straight on. A shot from the angle representing the position of the IDF post produced an elongated hole. They concluded that the evidence was consistent with shots coming from a position behind the France 2 cameraman, roughly in the location of "the pita," the circular dirt berm in the north-west quadrant of the junction, where Palestinian police officers are alleged to have been standing, armed with automatic rifles (see above).[8]

Conclusions, withdrawal of Israeli responsibility

Knesset member Ophir Pines-Paz said the inquiry had "foregone conclusions."[69]

On October 23, 2000, Shahaf and Doriel invited a CBS camera crew to film the reenactment, Doriel telling the correspondent, Bob Simon, that he believed the boy's death was real, but had been staged to besmirch Israel's reputation. Those in the know included the cameraman and the boy's father, Doriel said, though the latter had not realized the boy would be killed. The interview was aired on November 12.[70] When General Samia saw it, he removed Doriel from the investigation.[68]

The report was never published. It was shown to the head of Israeli military intelligence, and the key points were presented to the media in November 2000 as not ruling out that the IDF had shot the boy, though describing it as unlikely.[71] Danny Seaman and the prime minister's foreign media adviser, Dr. Ra'anan Gissin, were shown the report in early 2001; Seaman said the investigation convinced him that the France 2 story was inaccurate.[3] The investigation provoked widespread criticism.[72] A Haaretz editorial said, "it is hard to describe in mild terms the stupidity of this bizarre investigation."[73] Knesset member Ophir Pines-Paz said the army had set up an inquiry with foregone conclusions.[69] An unnamed senior army officer said the investigation was a disgrace that had piled shame on what was a terrible accident.[74]

In February 2005, Shahaf presented his views to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. In addition to concluding that Palestinian gunmen had fired the shots, he also said a long cut on Muhammad's body described by one of the doctors was more consistent with a knife wound than a bullet. He said the evidence of the doctors was not consistent with photographs of the boy's body, suggesting that the dead boy in the photographs was not al-Durrah, that the body had reached the hospital before the incident was reported to have started, and that the signs of injury on the boy's body were not consistent with fresh blood. He added that several manufactured incidents, including gunfights, were visible in the television footage.[75]

In September 2007, an Israeli government press office statement, approved by the Prime Minister's office, withdrew the IDF's October 2000 acceptance of responsibility (see above for more details),[3] and in 2008, an IDF spokesman, Col. Shlomi Am-Shalom, said the Shahaf report showed the IDF could not have shot Muhammad and asked France 2 to send the IDF the unedited 27 minutes of raw footage, as well as footage the France 2 cameraman shot the day after the incident.[76]

Questions about the footage

How much was taken

There is confusion regarding how much footage was taken and what it shows. Abu Rahma said that the gunfight lasted 45 minutes, and that he filmed about 27 minutes of it.[77] Just over one minute shows the al-Durrahs, and 59 seconds were broadcast. No part of the footage shows the boy dead,[26] though Enderlin did announce his death: "Another burst of fire. Mohamed is dead and his father seriously wounded."[41] Enderlin cut a final few seconds from the end, during which the boy appears to lift his hand away from his face, leading critics to say he was peeking at the camera.[8] Enderlin said he cut this scene in accordance with the France 2 ethical charter, because it showed the boy in his death throes ("agonie"), which he said was "unbearable".[78]

The issue of how much footage exists was further confused in November 2007. France 2 sued Philippe Karsenty, a French media commentator, for libel, after Karsenty accused them of having broadcast a hoax. A court ruled in France 2's favor, but Karsenty appealed; see below. The court of appeal asked to see the footage, and in November 2007, France 2 presented the court with just 18 minutes of footage. According to Agence France Press, France 2 said the rest had been destroyed because it had not been about the shooting.[79] Enderlin then seemed to say there had never been 27 minutes of footage; according to The Jerusalem Post, he said just before the screening, "I do not know where this 27 minutes comes from. In all there were only 18 minutes of footage shot in Gaza."[80]

2004: French journalists view the footage

In February 2004, Arlette Chabot became news director of France 2, replacing Olivier Mazerolle, who had been in the position since March 2001. On October 22, 2004, the network allowed three senior French journalists to view the footage—Denis Jeambar, the editor-in-chief of L'Express; Daniel Leconte, a former France 2 correspondent, and head of news documentaries at Arte, a state-run television network; and Luc Rosenzweig, a former managing editor of Le Monde. The journalists asked to speak to the cameraman, who was in Paris at the time, but France 2 told them he did not speak French and that his English was not good enough.[81]

Having viewed the footage, Jeambar and Leconte wrote in Le Figaro on January 25, 2005, that there was no scene in it that showed the boy had died.[82] When Enderlin said Muhammad was dead, they wrote "he had no possibility of determining that he was in fact dead, and even less so, that he had been shot by IDF soldiers."[26] While they did not believe the scene was staged, they said the footage did not show the boy's death throes. "This famous 'agony' that Enderlin insisted was cut from the montage," they wrote, "does not exist."[83]

The first 23 minutes of the footage showed Palestinians playing at war for the cameras, they said, falling down as if wounded, then getting up and walking away. A France 2 official told them, "You know it's always like that,"[34] a comment that Leconte said he found disturbing. "I think that if there is a part of this event that was staged, they have to say it," he said, "that there was a part that was staged, that it can happen often in that region for a thousand reasons."[83] Leconte did not conclude that the shooting was faked. He said, "At the moment of the shooting, it's no longer acting, there's really shooting, there's no doubt about that."[34] In an interview with Cybercast News, he said he believed the Palestinians had shot the boy. "The only ones who could hit the child were the Palestinians from their position," he said. "If they had been Israeli bullets, they would be very strange bullets because they would have needed to go around the corner." He dismissed France 2's explanation—that perhaps the bullets that hit the boy had ricocheted off the ground. "It could happen once, but that there should be eight or nine of them, which go around a corner? They're just saying anything."[34]

The third journalist to view the raw footage, Luc Rosenzweig—who had previously written material about the incident for the Metula News Agency (Mena; see above)—disagreed with Jeambar and Leconte. He concluded that the shooting had been staged, calling it "an almost perfect media crime."[84] Jeambar and Leconte say they and Rosenzweig had agreed not to discuss what they saw on the footage until all had agreed on a response, but Rosenzweig spoke to Mena about it, and Mena published his account, concluding that it supported the allegation of staging. Jeambar and Leconte distanced themselves from that conclusion. They wrote in Le Figaro: "To those who, like Mena, tried to use us to support the theory that the child's death was staged by the Palestinians, we say they are misleading us and their readers. Not only do we not share this point of view, but we attest that, given our present knowledge of the case, nothing supports that conclusion. In fact, the reverse is true."[41]

Enderlin's response

On January 27, also in Le Figaro, Enderlin responded to Leconte and Jeambar's article. He said the whispering campaign against him had resulted in death threats against him that were taken seriously by the Israeli police, forcing him to move house. He wrote that he had said the bullets were fired by the Israelis because he trusted the cameraman, who had worked for France 2 since 1988. It was the cameraman who made the initial claim during the broadcast, and later had it confirmed by other journalists and sources. Enderlin said the Israeli army did not respond to France 2's offers to cooperate in an investigation. "The image corresponded to the reality of the situation," he wrote, "not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank." Citing Ben Kaspi in the Israeli newspaper, Maariv, he said during the first months of the Second Intifada, the IDF had fired one million rounds of ammunition—700,000 in the West Bank and 300,000 in Gaza. He said that, from 29 September to late October 2000, 118 Palestinians were killed, including 33 under the age of 18, compared to 11 adult Israelis killed during the same period.[53]

Esther Schapira documentaries

2002: Drei Kugeln und ein totes Kind

In March 2002, the German network ARD broadcast Drei Kugeln und ein totes Kind ("Three Bullets and a Dead child") by Esther Schapira. Muhammad's mother told Schapira that Muhammad had left with his father for Gaza after breakfast at 10 am (GMT+3). Jamal said they arrived at the junction around 11 am, then headed to a car auction. They approached the junction a second time around midday on the way back in a cab, but it was closed to allow ambulances through, so they proceeded on foot. At around midday, there was suddenly live fire.[32] At the point at which Muhammad was seen lying in Jamal's lap, Schapira said a hand covered the lens of the France 2 camera, and the film was cut, returning only when the dust had settled.[85] Abu Rahma told her he reached his studio in Gaza at 4:15 pm (GMT+3)—with 60 minutes of footage, according to Schapira—where he was scheduled at 4:30 pm to feed his pictures to the France 2 Jerusalem office by satellite. He said he fed six minutes back to Jerusalem, which he described as "from the shooting to the end." Schapira said the footage arrived at the France 2 studio at around 6 pm. Enderlin asked the army for a statement and compiled his report.[32]

Schapira interviewed three anonymous Israeli soldiers who had been on duty at the IDF post. One of them said they knew something was about to happen because of the number of camera crews that had gathered; Schapira said that at least 10 Palestinian photographers and camera crews working for Western news agencies had assembled at the junction. The situation began to escalate around midday.[32] One of the soldiers said the live fire started from the high-rise Palestinian blocks known as "the twins"—see the lower right quadrant of this image. The shooter was firing at the IDF post, the soldier said, who added that he had not seen the al-Durrahs.[86] The Israelis returned fire on a Palestinian station 30 meters to the left of the al-Durrahs; the soldier said their weapons were equipped with optics that allowed them to fire accurately, and that none of them had switched to automatic fire.[87] In the view of the soldier, the shooting was no accident, because the range was too close and the visibility too good, but the fire did not come from the Israeli position, he said.[88]

The French Jewish Defense League organized a demonstration of 1,000 protesters outside the France 2 offices in Paris in October 2002,[89] where Schapira's film was projected onto a giant screen, and France 2 and Enderlin were awarded a "prize for disinformation."[41] Enderlin described the event as a deliberate incitement to hatred and violence.[31] Israeli historian Tom Segev wrote that the documentary said nothing new about the incident, but conveyed something about the power of propaganda and the failures of the IDF spokesman's office. He said Schapira had not succeeded in ruling out that the IDF had killed the boy, but had shown that it was impossible to say with certainty that they did.[90]

2009: Das Kind, der Tod und die Wahrheit

In a second ARD film broadcast in March 2009, Das Kind, der Tod und die Wahrheit ("The Child, the Death, and the Truth"), Schapira and George M. Hafner suggest that two Palestinian boys may have been injured that day, and that the boy who died may not have been Muhammad.[91] The film was shortlisted for an Association of International Broadcasting Award in September 2009.[92] France 2 responded angrily, threatening to end cooperation with ARD. Enderlin called Schapira a militant journalist who had been taken in by the Israeli right; Schapira replied that Enderlin had a strange understanding of press freedom.[93]

Interview with Dr Tawil

Schapira interviewed Dr Mohammed Tawil of the Al-Shifa Hospital. He said that at 10 am (GMT+3) two people were delivered within a minute of one another, both dead. One was a small boy, the other an ambulance driver who had been shot through the heart. Tawil said he learned later that the boy was Muhammad Jamal al-Durrah. He said the boy had a serious injury to his abdomen, and that his bowels were lying outside his body.[94] Schapira said that, according to all other reports, Jamal and Muhammad had not yet reached the junction by 10 am (GMT+3), and that the shooting is reported to have started between midday and 2 pm (GMT+3). She also said that Jamal and Muhammad were reportedly transported away from the scene together, yet did not arrive at the hospital together, according to Dr. Tawil. She argues that the discrepancies suggest there was a mix-up of some kind.[94]

Hospital records show that, at midday, a young boy was examined in the pathology department. Schapira argued that it was the same boy Tawil had admitted, because the pathologist noted the same kind of injury. The pathologist, Dr Abed El-Razeq El Masry, examined the boy for half an hour, and told Schapira that the boy's abdominal organs had been expelled and were lying outside his body. He showed Schapira images that he had taken of the body, with cards identifying it as Muhammad's.[95] Schapira's camera zoomed in to show a watch on the wrist of one of the pathologists, which appeared to say 3:50 (GMT+3).[96] That evening, before dusk, the funeral took place in the al-Bureij refugee camp, about one hour away by car. Her camera zoomed in to show a watch on the wrist of a mourner, which appeared to say 5:30 (GMT+3). Schapira argued that this could not have been Muhammad, because the time that had elapsed between the incident—reported by Enderlin as taking place at 3 pm (GMT+3)—and the funeral was too short (but see above regarding confusion over the timeline).[97]

Confusion over the name

Schapira suggested the dead boy may have been called Rami al-Durrah, the name first reported by Reuters and the Associated Press.[98] The name was changed to Muhammad by Abu Rahma, the France 2 cameraman, when another journalist, Sami—who was married to Jamal al-Durrah's sister—saw the footage. Abu Rahma told Schapira: "[Sami] shouted, 'That is Muhammad al-Durrah, that is Jamal al-Durrah. I'm married to his sister.' In that moment, they were reporting the name of the boy as Rami al-Durrah. As I then played back my material, I changed the news reports from Rami to Muhammad Jamal al-Durrah."[99]

The assumption that the boy in the footage was also the boy in the hospital morgue may not have been correct, Schapira suggested.[100] She arranged for Kurt Kinderman, a facial imaging expert, to examine images of Muhammad. Kinderman said that the faces in the pathology and funeral images belong to the same boy, but in his view they are not the boy in photographs identified as Muhammad; he said there were significant differences in the shape of the eyebrows and mouth.[101] She obtained other images of an injured boy being taken to hospital, on or around that day, which appeared to be Muhammad, but their authenticity had not been established and their source was unknown. Schapira also argued that there was no blood in the France 2 footage, except for one red mark that she said was a red piece of cloth. There were no blood stains by the concrete drum in some of the footage taken the next day, and in the images that show blood stains, she argued that the color of the blood was too bright given the time that had elapsed.[102] She concluded that Muhammad may have died, but that he did not die as presented by France 2.[103]

Allegations about father's injuries

On December 13, 2007, Israel's Channel 10 aired an interview with Dr. Yehuda David, a physician at Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv. David told Channel 10 that he had treated Jamal in 1994 for knife and axe wounds to his arms and legs sustained during a Palestinian gang attack. David said the scars Jamal presented as bullet wounds from the 2000 incident were actually scars from a tendon repair operation that David performed in 1994.[104]

David made the same assertions in an interview with a "Daniel Vavinsky," published in Actualité Juive (Jewish News) on September 4, 2008. Charles Enderlin sent a "right of reply" to Actualité Juive, along with medical documents and photographs of Jamal's injuries. In late 2008, Jamal filed a defamation complaint against Actualité Juive with the Tribunal de grande instance (superior court) of Paris. The court subsequently established that "Daniel Vavinsky" was a pseudonym for Clément Weill-Raynal, a deputy editor at France 3, and a former adviser on antisemitism and misinformation to the Council of Jewish Organizations. In October 2009 the Paris magistrate issued defamation charges against Weill-Raynal and Serge Benattar, the managing editor of Actualité Juive.[105]

In April 2011 the court ruled that David and Actualité Juive had defamed Jamal. David, Weill-Raynal and Serge Benattar, the managing editor of Actualité Juive, were fined €5,000 each, and Actualité Juive was ordered to print a retraction. David indicated that he would appeal, and the Israeli government said it would finance his case going forward.[52]

Philippe Karsenty litigation

2006: Enderlin-France 2 v. Karsenty

Philippe Karsenty was sued for calling the footage a hoax.

In response to the claims that it had broadcast a staged scene, Enderlin and France 2 filed three defamation suits, seeking symbolic damages of 1 from each of the defendants.[106] The most notable lawsuit was against Philippe Karsenty, a deputy mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine and financial consultant, who runs a media watchdog, Media-Ratings.[107] He wrote on November 26, 2004 that the shooting scene had been faked by the cameraman, that Muhammad had not been killed, and that Enderlin and Chabot, France 2's news editor, should be sacked.[108] On December 9, 2004, Enderlin issued a writ for libel, followed by France 2 on December 3, 2005.[109]

The case began on September 14, 2006. Witnesses who testified for Karsenty included the French journalist Luc Rosenzweig, media professor Francis Balle, American historian Richard Landes, Gérard Huber, author of Contre expertise d'une mise en scene, and Daniel Dayan, research director of the French National Centre for Scientific Research.[41] Enderlin submitted as evidence a February 2004 letter from Jacques Chirac, then president of France, which spoke of Enderlin's integrity.[17] The court upheld the complaint on October 19, 2006, fining Karsenty €1,000 and ordering him to pay €3,000 in costs.[2] He lodged an appeal that same day.[110]

2007: Karsenty v. Enderlin-France 2

The case opened on September 19, 2007 in the Paris Court of Appeal, the three-judge panel presided over by Judge Laurence Trébucq.[111] The court asked France 2 to turn over the 27 minutes of raw footage the cameraman said he had shot, to be shown during a public hearing on November 14. France 2 produced only 18 minutes; Karsenty refers to this as "the first tampering of the evidence."[110] Enderlin told The Jerusalem Post on the day of the hearing that France 2 had produced all the raw footage it had, based on "an original tape that was kept in a safe until now. We presented a DVD that was made in front of a bailiff from the original tape... not from the various copies you can find here and there." He said, "I do not know where this 27 minutes comes from. In all there were only 18 minutes of footage shot in Gaza."[80]

The screening lasted from 2:15 to 4 pm, interrupted several times so that Enderlin could describe what was happening.[80] The footage showed the incident with the al-Durrahs in the last minute. The court heard that the boy put his hand to his forehad and moved his leg after the cameraman had said he was dead, and that there was no blood on the boy's shirt.[80] Enderlin argued that the cameraman had not said the boy was dead, but that he was dying,[112] though the cameraman himself told National Public Radio on October 1, 2000 that he had said out loud, "the boy got killed," when he saw Muhammad lying in his father's lap.[54]

A colored diagram of a crossroads.
Schlinger showed the court this diagram of the junction. It included a position called the "pita" (lower left), where several sources said Palestinian police officers were armed with automatic rifles.[30] The pita did not appear on the France 2 cameraman's diagram, which marked that area as "Fields" (see above left).

Karsenty commissioned Jean-Claude Schlinger, a ballistics expert, to write a 90-page report for the court.[113] Schlinger recreated the incident, examining the angle of the shots, the weapons, and the reported injuries. A diagram he produced (right) included a position behind the France 2 cameraman and in front of the al-Durrahs, a circular dirt berm known locally as "the pita," where Palestinian police were armed with automatic rifles.[30] This position did not appear in the cameraman's report; see the image on the left above. Schlinger concluded: "If Jamal and Mohammed al-Dura were indeed struck by shots, then they could not have come from the Israeli position, from a technical point of view, but only from the direction of the Palestinian position." He said there was no evidence that the boy was wounded in his right leg or abdomen, as reported, and that if the injuries were genuine, they did not occur at the time of the televised events. Had the shots come from the Israeli position, he wrote, only the lower limbs could have been hit.[114]

On February 27, 2008, France 2's lawyer, Maître François Szpiner, counsel to former President of France Jacques Chirac, called Karsenty "the Jew who pays a second Jew to pay a third Jew to fight to the last drop of Israeli blood," comparing him to 9/11 conspiracy theorist Thierry Meyssan and Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson. Karsenty had it in for Enderlin, Szpiner argued, because of Enderlin's even-handed coverage of the Middle East.[115]

2008: Appeal upheld

The judges overturned the ruling against Karsenty on May 21, 2008 in a 13-page decision. They ruled that he had presented a coherent mass of evidence, had exercised in good faith his right to criticize, and that the cameraman's statements were "not perfectly credible either in form or content."[116] France 2 appealed to the country's Supreme Court, a case that continues.[117] There were calls for a public inquiry from historian Élie Barnavi, a former Israeli ambassador to France, and Richard Prasquier, president of the Council of Jewish Organisations in France.[118] The Le Nouvel Observateur, a left-leaning magazine, began a petition in support of Enderlin that was signed by 300 French writers, accusing Karsenty of a seven-year hate-filled smear campaign. Journalist Anne-Elisabeth Moutet wrote that the petition was the French journalists' guild closing ranks: "To understand the al-Dura affair, it helps to keep one thing in mind: in France, you can't own up to a mistake."[119]

In June 2010 Karsenty won another libel suit, this one against the French channel Canal+ broadcast and the Tac Press news agency over an April 2008 documentary comparing his arguments to 9/11 conspiracy theories.[120]

Impact of the footage

A park. On the right, a large structure with a black-and-white drawing of a man and boy crouching, the man waving, the boy holding onto the man's shirt.
Place Mohammed al-Dura, Bamako

Doreen Carvajal wrote that the France 2 footage acquired the power of a battle flag,[83] with Helen Schary Motro arguing that it took its place alongside other iconic images of children under attack: the boy with raised hands in the Warsaw ghetto (1943), the Vietnamese girl doused with napalm (1972), the firefighter carrying the dying baby away from the Oklahoma City bombing (1995).[13] Arab countries issued postage stamps bearing the images, parks and streets were named in Muhammad's honor, and Osama bin Laden mentioned Muhammad in a "warning" to President George Bush after 9/11. The images were blamed for the lynching of two Israeli reservists in Ramallah on October 12, 2000, the burning of synagogues and a general rise in antisemitism in France,[121] and could be seen in the background when journalist Daniel Pearl, an American Jew, was beheaded in February 2002.[122]

Like other battle images, the authenticity of the footage was questioned precisely because it was so potent.[83] Both sides invoked the idea of the "blood libel"—the ancient allegation against the Jewish people that they are willing to sacrifice other people's children.[123] From the Arab perspective, the footage proved it. From the Israeli perspective, the world's willingness to accept it at face value was an example of antisemitism.[124] French philosopher Pierre-Andre Taguieff compared the situation to the Dreyfus affair in 1894, when a French-Jewish army captain in Paris was found guilty of treason based on a forgery, but this time with Philippe Karsenty, Israel, and the Jewish people in Dreyfus's place.[125]

The French news program Jeudi Investigation attributed the controversy to radical pro-Israeli commentators and their determined use of the Web to undermine Enderlin, because Muhammad is "an unbearable symbol" for them.[47] Mid-East expert Jonathan Randal said: "Charles Enderlin is an excellent journalist! I don't care if it's the Virgin Birth affair, I would tend to believe him."[2] Other journalists say Enderlin made a mistake but can't admit it. "Guy sends him pictures from Gaza, tells him the Israelis shot the kid, he believes him—I mean, even the Israeli Defense Forces spokesman believed it!" Jean-Ives Camus said. "But you can't own up one, two years after the fact."[2] French journalist Catherine Nay wrote that Muhammad's death "cancels, erases that of the Jewish child, his hands in the air before the SS in the Warsaw Ghetto," arguing in effect that anti-Arabism or Islamophobia are the new antisemitism.[126]

See also


  1. ^ a b Haaretz, May 16, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Moutet 2008. Enderlin's report said: "Here, Jamal and his son Mohamed are the target of fire from the Israeli positions ... Another burst of fire. Mohamed is dead and his father seriously wounded."
  3. ^ a b c d e f Seaman 2008.
  4. ^ See The New York Times, November 27, 2000.
  5. ^ Schwartz 2007: "In the last picture Mohammed al-Dura is seen lifting his head".
    • Carvajal 2005, p. 2: "When Leconte and Jeambar saw the rushes, they were struck by the fact that there was no definitive scene that showed that the child truly died. They wrote, however, that they were not convinced that the particular scene was staged, but only that "this famous 'agony' that Enderlin insisted was cut from the montage does not exist."
    • For the last few seconds of footage, see Final moments of footage not shown by France 2, September 30, 2000, courtesy of YouTube, accessed 18 September 2010.
    • For the France 2 news editor's comment, see Carvajal 2005.
    • For the Israeli government press comment, see Patience 2007, and Kalman 2007.
    • For France 2's Supreme Court appeal, see Barluet and Durand-Souffland 2008.
  6. ^ For the comparison of the image to a battle flag, see Carvajal 2005.
  7. ^ For Fallows's comment, see Fallows 2003. He elaborated on this in October 2007; see Fallows, October 2, 2007, and a discussion of it in Beckerman 2007.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Fallows 2003.
  9. ^ The New York Times, September 28, 2000.
    • BBC News (September 30, 2000). "Violence engulfs West Bank and Gaza", accessed October 17, 2009.
    • On the same day, an Israeli police officer was killed by a Palestinian police officer in a joint patrol; see Lancry 2000. Also from Lancry: Israel's ambassador to the United Nations said there had been violence before Sharon's visit too: Molotov cocktails had been thrown on September 13, and an Israeli soldier had been killed by a roadside bomb on September 27.
    • The May 2001 Mitchell Report into what caused the violence concluded that, although Sharon's visit was poorly timed and its effects foreseeable, it was not the cause of the uprising; see Mitchell Report. The report concluded: "[W]e have no basis on which to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by the PA [Palestinian Authority] to initiate a campaign of violence at the first opportunity; or to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by the GOI [Government of Israel] to respond with lethal force.

      "However, there is also no evidence on which to conclude that the PA made a consistent effort to contain the demonstrations and control the violence once it began; or that the GOI made a consistent effort to use non-lethal means to control demonstrations of unarmed Palestinians. Amid rising anger, fear, and mistrust, each side assumed the worst about the other and acted accordingly.

      "The Sharon visit did not cause the 'Al-Aqsa Intifada.' But it was poorly timed and the provocative effect should have been foreseen; indeed, it was foreseen by those who urged that the visit be prohibited. More significant were the events that followed: The decision of the Israeli police on September 29 to use lethal means against the Palestinian demonstrators; and the subsequent failure, as noted above, of either party to exercise restraint."

  10. ^ BBC News, February 8, 2005; European Institute for Research on Mediterranean and Euro-Arab Cooperation.
  11. ^ Stack 2003.
  12. ^ Goldenberg, October 3, 2000; CNN September 27, 2000.
  13. ^ a b c Schary Motro 2000.
  14. ^ a b Orme, October 2, 2000.
  15. ^ a b Goldenberg, October 3, 2000.
  16. ^ Abu Rahma said in an affidavit sworn in October 2000 that he was the first journalist to interview the father after the shooting, an interview that was broadcast; see Abu Rahma 2000.
  17. ^ a b Letter from Jacques Chirac, February 2004.
  18. ^ France 2, August 12, 2009.
  19. ^ JTA May 12, 2008; Sofer 2008.
  20. ^ Schapira 2009, 2/5, interview with Enderlin begins at 6:18 minutes, YouTube.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h Abu Rahma 2000.
  22. ^ Rory Peck Awards 2001; Gutman 2005, p. 71.
  23. ^ Agence France-Presse, October 16, 2001.
  24. ^ Grizbec 2008.
  25. ^ Kalman 2007.
  26. ^ a b c d e f Schwartz 2007, and Derfner 2008.
  27. ^ Garfield and Campbell 2001.
  28. ^ O'Sullivan 2001; Philps 2000.
  29. ^ Gross 2003.
  30. ^ a b c d Schlinger 2008, p. 60, figure 63; for a secondary source discussing "the pita," see Fallows 2003.
  31. ^ a b c Schemla 2002.
  32. ^ a b c d e Schapira 2002(b), from around 19:30 minutes.
  33. ^ 180 seconds filmed by a Reuters cameraman crouching behind the al-Durrahs,; Eight seconds of the same scene, filmed by an Associated Press cameraman,
  34. ^ a b c d e Cahen 2005.
  35. ^ Schapira 2009, 2/5, 2:27 minutes.
  36. ^ a b c Rees 2000.
  37. ^ For the final moments of footage, see Final moments of the footage not shown by France 2, September 30, 2000, courtesy of YouTube, accessed 18 September 2010.
  38. ^ Télérama, issue 2650, page 10, October 25, 2000, cited in Juffa 2003.
  39. ^ For example, Fallows 2003.
  40. ^ Carvajal 2005.
  41. ^ a b c d e f Enderlin, France 2 v. Karsenty, 2006.
  42. ^ Schapira 2009, part 2, 0:24 minutes.
  43. ^ Schapira 2009, part 4, 4:04 minutes; and Whitaker 2000.
  44. ^ Enderlin, France 2 v. Karsenty, 2006. Enderlin's original report: "15 heures, tout vient de basculer au carrefour de Netzarim, dans la bande de Gaza. Les Palestiniens ont tiré à balles réelles, les Israéliens ripostent. Ambulanciers, journalistes, simples passants sont pris entre deux feux. Ici, Jamal et son fils Mohammed sont la cible de tirs venus des positions israéliennes. Mohammed a 12 ans, son père tente de le protéger. Il fait des signes (...) Mais une nouvelle rafale. Mohammed est mort et son père grièvement blessé. Un policier palestinien et un ambulancier ont également perdu la vie au cours de cette bataille."
  45. ^ Schapira 2009, part 4, at 2:28 minutes.
  46. ^ a b c BBC News, October 2, 2000.
  47. ^ a b Canal+, April 24, 2008.
  48. ^ Philps 2000; Orme, October 2, 2000. His white marble headstone reads: "Those who die in battle do not really die, but live on." See Schapira 2008.
  49. ^ BBC News, October 3, 2000.
  50. ^ "Les blessures de Jamal a Dura", France 2, October 1, 2000; "Jamal a Dura l'operation", France 2, October 1, 2000.
  51. ^ a b Mekki 2000.
  52. ^ a b "French court convicts Israeli of slandering al-Durra", The Jerusalem Post, April 29, 2011.
  53. ^ a b Enderlin 2005.
  54. ^ a b National Public Radio 2000.
  55. ^ a b Schapira 2002a.
  56. ^ O'Sullivan 2001.
  57. ^ Shuman 2002; also see Richard Landes's Al Durah: According to Palestinian sources II. Birth of an icon, 2005.
  58. ^ Orme 2000b.
  59. ^ Enderlin's report said: "1500 hours, everything has just erupted near the settlement of Netzarim ..." Enderlin, France 2 v. Karsenty, 2006. Israel Standard Time is two hours ahead of GMT, while Israel Summer Time is three hours ahead. According to a law enacted by the Knesset in July 2000, Israel Summer Time ended that year on October 6, meaning that on September 30, Israel was three hours ahead of GMT. See Israeli Government Printing Office, 2000; here for further information about time in Israel.
  60. ^ a b Whitaker 2000.
  61. ^ Mohammed Tawil interview in Schapira 2009, begins at 1:18 minutes.
  62. ^ Juffa 2003.
  63. ^ Abu Rahma interview in Schapira 2009, begins at 6:17 minutes.
  64. ^ Frankfurter Allgemeine, March 4, 2009.
  65. ^ a b Cygielman, November 8, 2000.
  66. ^ Business and Economics Research Directory, 1996, p. 152.
  67. ^ Lord 2002; Fallows 2003.
  68. ^ a b c d Cygielman 2000.
  69. ^ a b Haaretz, November 8, 2000.
  70. ^ Cordesman and Moravitz 2005, p. 372; Simons 2000.
  71. ^ The New York Times, November 27, 2000.
  72. ^ Goldenberg 2000b.
  73. ^ Haaretz, November 10, 2000; Fallows 2003.
  74. ^ Kiley 2000.
    • Shahaf's position was taken up in 2002 by the Metula News Agency, also known as Mena, an Israeli French-language press agency created in May 2001 by Stéphane Juffa, and based in Metula, Israel. See Deguine 2006; and for more information about Mena, see Introduction to Mena, Metula News Agency. Mena wrote about the al-Durrah case on an almost daily basis, and in November 2002 produced a 20-minute documentary called Al Dura—The Investigation, based largely on Shahaf's work. Juffa concluded that the incident was a set up. In January 2003, Gérard Huber, a French psychoanalyst who was Mena's permanent correspondent in Paris, published a book, Contre expertise d'une mise en scene ("Second opinion on a set-up") expounding the same theory.
  75. ^ Rogev and Nahum 2005, section B27, p. 44.
  76. ^ Rettig Gur 2008.
  77. ^ Abu Rahma 2000, and Schwartz 2008.
  78. ^ Enderlin wrote to The Atlantic in response to an article in September 2003 by James Fallows: "James Fallows writes, 'The footage of the shooting ... illustrates the way in which television transforms reality' and, notably, 'France 2 or its cameraman may have footage that it or he has chosen not to release.' We do not transform reality. But since some parts of the scene are unbearable, France 2 cut a few seconds from the scene, in accordance with our ethical charter."
  79. ^ Agence France Presse, November 14, 2007: "Alors que la cour s'attendait à voir 27 minutes de rushes, France 2 n'en a présenté mercredi que 18 minutes, assurant que le reste avait été détruit car il ne concernait pas l'épisode incriminé" ("While the court waited to see the 27 minutes of rushes, France 2 presented on Wednesday only 18 minutes, assuring the court that the rest had been destroyed because it did not concern the incriminating episode").
  80. ^ a b c d Schoumann 2007.
  81. ^ Poller 2005.
  82. ^ Jeambar and Leconte 2005.
  83. ^ a b c d Carvajal 2005
  84. ^ Gelertner 2005; also see Rosenzweig 2007.
  85. ^ Schapira 2002(b), from around 13:00 minutes.
  86. ^ Schapira 2002(b), 16:03 minutes
  87. ^ Schapira 2002(b), 17:00 minutes.
  88. ^ Schapira 2002(b), 18:13 minutes.
  89. ^ Deguine 2006.
  90. ^ Segev 2002
  91. ^ Schapira 2009 (German).
  92. ^ AIBs 2009 shortlist.
  93. ^ For France 2's response to ARD, see "ARD mit französischem Sender im Klinsch", Der Kontakter, April 20, 2009.
    • For Enderlin's comment and Schapira's response, see Bergius 2009.
  94. ^ a b Shapira 2009, part 3, from 9:22 minutes; Shapira 2009, part 4, from the beginning (German).
  95. ^ Schapira 2009, part 4, from 2:20 minutes.
  96. ^ Schapira 2009, part 4, from 1:25 minutes.
  97. ^ Schapira 2009, part 4 from 2:55 minutes.
  98. ^ Brian Whitaker wrote in The Guardian on October 5, 2000: "The first report of Mohammed's killing came from the American agency, Associated Press, just before 6pm last Saturday [GMT+1]. Unedited, the relevant part said: 'Among those killed was a 12-year-old boy who was caught in the crossfire. The boy, Rami Aldura, and his father, were crouched behind a metal barrel, trying to seek cover and pleading for a ceasefire. The father held his hand protectively over the boy, who was screaming with fear, only to see his son fatally shot in the stomach.'

    A few minutes later, Reuters circulated a report which said: 'In Netzarim, 12-year-old Rami Aldura and his father Jamal were caught in the crossfire.' Both reports got the boy's name partly wrong ..." (see Whitaker, October 5, 2000).

  99. ^ Schapira 2009, part 4, from 4:32 minutes.
  100. ^ Schapira 2009, part 4, from 3:34 minutes.
  101. ^ Schapira 2009, part 4, from 5:28 minutes.
  102. ^ Schapira 2009, part 2, 9:35 minutes, and part 3, from the beginning].
  103. ^ Schapira 2009, part 4, from 7:22 minutes.
  104. ^ Channel 10, December 13, 2007; Poller May 2008.
  105. ^ Enderlin 2007; Sieffert 2009; Rosenzweig 2009b.
  106. ^ Carvajal 2006.
  107. ^ Vos élus - Site officiel de la ville de Neuilly-sur-Seine, Mayors and deputies of Neuilly-sur-Seine].
  108. ^ Karsenty 2004. A second case, against Pierre Lurçat of the Jewish Defense League, was dismissed on a technicality. A third, against Dr. Charles Gouz, whose blog republished an article in which France 2 was criticized, resulted in a "mitigated judgement" against Gouz for his posting of the word "désinformation".
  109. ^ Enderlin, France 2 v. Karsenty, 2006; Simon interview with Karsenty 2008.
  110. ^ a b Simon interview with Karsenty, 2008.
  111. ^ Poller, May 2008.
  112. ^ Haaretz, May 16, 2007.
  113. ^ Schlinger 2008.
  114. ^ Schwartz 2008.
  115. ^ Poller, May 2008.
  116. ^ "Court backs claim that al-Dura killing was staged", Haaretz, May 22, 2008.
  117. ^ Poller, May 2008; Libération, May 21, 2008.
  118. ^ Barnavi 2008; Prasquier 2008; Lauter 2008.
  119. ^ European Jewish Press, June 11, 2008.
    • Moutet 2008: The petition said: "Sept ans. Voilà sept ans qu’une campagne obstinée et haineuse s’efforce de salir la dignité professionnelle de notre confrère Charles Enderlin, correspondant de France 2 à Jerusalem. Voilà sept ans que les mêmes individus tentent de présenter comme une 'supercherie' et une 'série de scènes jouées', son reportage montrant la mort de Mohammed al-Doura, 12 ans, tué par des tirs venus de la position israélienne, le 30 septembre 2000, dans la bande de Gaza, lors d’un affrontement entre l’armée israélienne et des éléments armés palestiniens. Le 19 octobre 2006, le tribunal correctionnel de Paris avait jugé le principal animateur de cette campagne, Philippe Karsenty, coupable de diffamation. L’arrêt rendu le 21 mai par la cour d’appel de Paris, saisie par Philippe Karsenty, reconnaît que les propos tenus par ce dernier portaient 'incontestablement atteinte à l’honneur et à la réputation des professionnels de l’information' mais admet, curieusement, la 'bonne foi' de Philippe Karsenty qui 'a exercé son droit de libre critique' et 'n’a pas dépassé les limites de la liberté d’expression'. Cet arrêt qui relaxe Philippe Karsenty nous surprend et nous inquiète. Il nous surprend, car il accorde la même crédibilité à un journaliste connu pour le sérieux et la rigueur de son travail, qui fait son métier dans des conditions parfois difficiles et à ses détracteurs, engagés dans une campagne de négation et de discrédit, qui ignorent tout des réalités du terrain et n’ont aucune expérience du journalisme dans une zone de conflit. Il nous inquiète, car il laisse entendre qu’il existerait désormais à l’encontre des journalistes une 'permission de diffamer' qui permettrait à chacun, au nom de la 'bonne foi', du 'droit de libre critique' et de la 'liberté d’expression' de porter atteinte impunément 'à l’honneur et à la réputation des professionnels de l’information'. Au moment où la liberté d’action des journalistes est l’objet d’attaques répétées, nous rappelons notre attachement à ce principe fondamental, pilier de la démocratie et nous renouvelons à Charles Enderlin notre soutien et notre solidarité." See Taguieff 2008.
  120. ^ "Canal+ condamné pour diffamation dans un documentaire sur les rumeurs du web", Agence France-Presse, June 11, 2010, accessed September 15, 2010.
  121. ^ Lauter 2008.
  122. ^ Fallows 2003;Poller, September 2005; The Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2008.
  123. ^ Fallows 2003; Waked 2007.
  124. ^ Gelertner 2005.
  125. ^ Taguieff 2008: see Google translation.
  126. ^ Rioufol 2008: Nay said: "La mort de Mohammed annule, efface celle de l'enfant juif, les mains en l'air devant les SS, dans le ghetto de Varsovie." For an interpretation of the statement, see Taguieff 2007.


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