Israeli Inquiry – Al-Dura Phony Killing Staged by Palestinians
On September 1, 2000, only a couple of days into the Palestinian violence against Jews that erupted at Yasser Arafat’s behest across the West Bank and Gaza, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, Muhammad al-Dura, was reportedly killed by Israel during a clash with Palestinian armed forces. The footage of him crouching in fear beside his father, Jamal, during the firefight, is an iconic image of recent years. Now we know, however, thanks to a new Israeli inquiry whose finding came out last week that this was a Palestinian staged fabrication and that al-Dura was not killed in the incident in question, let alone by Israe
The inquiry, appointed by Israeli Defense Minister, Moshe Yaalon, and headed by Brigadier- General Yossi Kuperwasser, the former head of the Research and Analysis Division of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Military Intelligence Directorate and now director-general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry, arrived at its conclusion after spending years sifting the evidence.
Yet, from September 2000 right up until today – despite the fact that no footage was broadcast of the boy actually being killed or wounded, only of footage of the terrified boy under fire and then further footage showing him lying still, apparently dead – most people outside Israel believed that the IDF had knowingly or at least recklessly killed an obviously defenseless boy. Why? Because the reporter, France-2 Television’s Charles Enderlin, said the boy had been killed by Israeli fire. Till now, that is all most people have known of the matter.
The reality, as we now know, is different. France-2 spent years withholding the remainder of the footage that was not broadcast at the time. After years of pressure and court cases involving French Jewish activist Philippe Karsenty, France-2 finally had to release it. Not only is there no footage of al-Dura being hit and killed, but, if one examines the supposed aftermath of his death, there is no blood and the boy’s arm and leg are seen moving after he had been allegedly killed. And we also know that Charles Enderlin was not on the scene at the time and merely relayed the story given by his Palestinian cameraman, Talal Abu Rahma, that al-Dura had been killed by Israel.
General Kuperwasser’s inquiry included numerous specialists from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and other academic institutions, including the physicist, Nahum Shahaf, who used angles and rate of fire to prove that the scene had been staged. This exposes the lie behind Abu Rahma’s account.
Yet, as a result of Enderlin’s fabricated report, Israel was subjected to waves of international opprobrium and Jews to innumerable acts of anti-Semitic violence across the globe. The murderers of the Wall Street Journal‘s Daniel Pearl in Pakistan carried out their gruesome beheading with a picture of al-Dura on the wall behind them. Postage stamps bearing al-Dura’s crouched image were issued in Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia. A street in Baghdad and a square in Morocco bear his name, as do many schools across the Arab world. His image has even been reproduced on a designer dress in Saudi Arabia.
As an earlier Israeli commission of inquiry has observed, the al-Dura incident also stimulated the Palestinian terrorist wave that washed over Israel from October 2000 onwards. Palestinian Authority (PA) television has repeatedly aired a film showing al-Dura in heaven, beckoning other Palestinian children to ‘martyr’ themselves by becoming terrorists so that they can join him in paradise.
This chain of events bears out the memorable observation of Winston Churchill that ‘A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.’ Clearly, the al-Dura legend has done Israel extraordinary harm. It is one of the great blood libels of Jewish history.
Now that the truth is known, however, Israel should hold a major press conference, complete with detailed graphics and forensic evidence on display, to state the truth loudly and clearly and to dispel the propaganda lies that have been spun.
Why? Because this is scarcely the first lie from the mill of Palestinian propaganda. Corpses and wounded people who suddenly leap off stretchers when they think the cameras have stopped rolling; ambulances ferrying terrorists instead of wounded people; Palestinians accidentally detonating home-made bombs, with the resultant dead and injured shown to the world as victims of Israeli strikes; doctored photographs of infants without limbs, and so on – blood libels against Israel are Palestinian stock-in-trade.
The issue is not merely righting a wrong or exposing a lie. Rather, it is demonstrating that Palestinians go to these extraordinary lengths to vilify Israel in order to further the twin goals of its delegitimization and eventual elimination, not because they seek a peaceful state alongside Israel – which has been theirs for the asking all along.
Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). Dr. Daniel Mandel is Director of the ZOA’s Center for Middle East Policy and author of H.V. Evatt & the Establishment of Israel (London, 2004).