The father of a boy whose apparent shooting death in the early days of the intifada became a rallying point for Palestinian activists disputed a report by Israel that his son was never killed and said he would agree to an international investigation on the matter.
On Sunday, Jerusalem released a report saying that Muhammad al-Dura was not harmed by Israeli forces and did not die in an exchange of fire filmed by a French cameraman in 2000.
But al-Dura’s father, Jamal al-Dura, who is seen in the film crouching with his son next to a wall in Gaza, and trying helplessly to save him as Muhammad appears to die at his feet, told the Ynet news website that he and his son were both hit by Israeli fire in the incident.
“If Muhammad was not injured by bullets, then who exactly shot and injured me? Even when the army shot and wounded us, Israel notified that it had carried it out,” he said.
The picture of Muhammad al-Dura, apparently dead across his father’s knees, was shown for days on Arab and international TV stations and was cited as inspiration by both Osama bin Laden and the killers of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
The 55 seconds of edited footage, filmed two days after Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, contributed to the October 2000 protest in which 13 Arab citizens of Israel were killed and quickly became the defining image of the second Palestinian intifada uprising and terror war against Israel.
Israel initially did not dispute that IDF troops had inadvertently killed the child. “It could very much be — this is an estimation — that a soldier in our position, who has a very narrow field of vision, saw somebody hiding behind a cement block in the direction from which he was being fired at, and he shot in that direction,” the IDF’s southern commander Maj. Gen. Yom-Tov Samia said at the time.
Only months later did the army complete an investigation that it said showed with certainty that, if al-Dura was killed, it could not have been from shots fired from the IDF position.
Jamal al-Dura said he would be willing to allow his son’s body to be examined by an international probe as long as Jerusalem agreed to go along with the investigation as well, Israel Radio reported.
France 2 also said it was prepared to assist Israel should it seek to exhume al-Dura’s body.
The Israeli report came out three days before an anticipated May 22 ruling in a Paris Court of Appeals, where France 2′s bureau chief Charles Enderlin sued Philippe Karsenty, a French Jew, for defamation. Karsenty wrote publicly that Enderlin should be fired for his broadcast of the confrontation at the Netzarim junction, which Karsenty called “a media hoax.”