VITAL NEW evidence screened in a Paris appeals court of the death of Muhammad al Dura, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, has failed to diminish the controversy surrounding his shooting.
In September 2000, French television channel France 2 reported that the boy was killed by Israeli soldiers at the Netzarim junction in the Gaza Strip in a battle between the IDF and armed Palestinians. Philippe Karsenty, who ran his own media-watchdog website, alleged that the report was forged and accused French TV of broadcasting “a staged killing causing hatred against Israel, Jews and the West”.
French TV and its Middle East correspondent, Charles Enderlin, replied by suing Mr Karsenty for defamation. In a first trial last year, Mr Karsenty was convicted, but when he appealed the decision, a second judge demanded to examine the full footage of the al-Dura report.
The images had been filmed by France 2 cameraman Talal Abu Rahma while Mr Enderlin was in Ramallah. In court, the journalist explained each segment of the footage that he provided, which lasted 18 minutes out of the 27 that Mr Abu Rahma claimed to have shot originally.
Mr Karsenty challenged Mr Enderlin’s explanations. “The boy was still moving after we heard the cameraman say he was dead. How do you explain this?” Mr Karsenty asked.
Mr Enderlin answered that Mr Abu Rahma had not meant to say that the boy had died, but that he was in danger of dying.
Mr Enderlin declared in 2000 that he had edited the images to avoid showing the boy’s last minutes of agony. But in the footage, there was no trace of these images.
“The al Dura report has had terrible consequences, catalysing hate around Israel, Jews and the West,” Mr Karsenty told the JC. “We have to denounce this hoax for the sake of future generations.”
Tension was high in the courtroom on Wednesday and some pro- and antiEnderlin militants were arguing loudly, preventing the press from entering the courtroom. Mr Enderlin told journalists that there was no new “affair” and told reporters to come to the next hearing on February 28, 2008.
Jamal al Dura tries to shelter his terrified son in this still from the film