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Media Analyses





BACKGROUNDER: Mohammed Al Dura


Anatomy of a French Media Scandal

Original report: October 13, 2005
Updated:  May 20, 2013

1. Introduction

2. Players

3. Timeline

4. Claims and Counterclaims

 

Introduction

The image of Mohammed Al Dura, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy crouched in terror behind his father as he allegedly becomes the fatal victim of Israeli bullets, has become an icon of Palestinian "martyrdom," especially in the Arab world. It has been repeatedly broadcast on television, appeared in Palestinian posters, advertisements and on Arab country postage stamps, fueling Palestinian hatred of and violence against Israel.

The video clip of an apparent crossfire between Israelis and Palestinians originated with the French public television station, France 2, filmed by the network’s Palestinian cameraman with voice-over by its Jerusalem bureau chief who attributed the mortal shots to Israel. Over the four and a half years since the incident, however, questions have been raised about the accuracy of the attribution and even about the authenticity of the scene. Those who accuse the television station and journalists of manipulating the facts have been met with cover-up, obfuscation, and threats of lawsuit. As the scandal simmers in the French media, CAMERA sorts out the claims and counter-claims.

 

Players

FRANCE 2

France 2 – one of three stations comprising France Television, French public television.

Talal Abu Rahma – Palestinian cameraman who works for CNN and for France 2.  Abu Rahma filmed the notorious clip of Al Dura’s shooting and originated the claim that the boy was shot dead by Israeli soldiers.

Charles Enderlin France 2's Jerusalem-based Middle East bureau chief since 1990 who broadcast as fact the claim that Al Dura was shot by Israeli soldiers.

Olivier Mazerolle – news director of France 2 at the time of the Al Dura broadcast.   Found guilty by the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (CSA) – an administrative authority over audiovisual media whose councillors are appointed by the French government – of journalistic breaches of ethics, he resigned his post on February 11, 2004 after having approved a false news report  that Alain Juppe was leaving politics after  his conviction for corruption. (In fact, on a rival station, Mr Juppe had just announced he would stay on and appeal  his conviction.)

Arlette Chabot – took over as news director of France 2 after Mazerolle's resignation. Under pressure, she screened the original raw footage for independent journalists Luc Rosenzweig, Denis Jeambar, and Daniel Leconte.  While she acknowleges that it is impossible to attribute Al Dura's death to Israeli soldiers based on the France 2 film footage, she vehemently denies that the scene was staged or that there is any need to investigate further. She defends the network and its journalists and has threatened lawsuits against those who impugn the network’s professional integrity.

Christine Delavennat – communications director of France 2 who insists Abu Rahma’s sworn affadavit to the Palestinian Human Rights Centre claiming Israeli soldiers deliberately targeted Al Dura was falsely attributed to him.

MENA

Metula News Agency (MENA) – French language Israeli news agency whose stated mission includes revealing and providing a counterbalance to missing and distorted information that may be disseminated by other news organizations. MENA has been at the forefront of accusations against France 2, Charles Enderlin, and Talal Abu Rahma of lying and manipulating the scene.

Stephane Juffa. – editor-in-chief of MENA whose investigation of the reported events concluded that the France 2 broadcast was fabricated in order to villify the Israel Defense Forces.

Gerard Huber – psychoanalyst and Paris correspondent of MENA who collaborated with Juffa in the investigation of the affair. He wrote a book entitled "Contre-expertise d’une mise en scene" (Re-evaluation of a Staged Event) published in 2003 by Editions Raphael, describing the investigation and its conclusion – that Al Dura was not shot by Israelis and that the whole scene was staged.

Others Skeptical of France 2's Claims

Nahum Shahaf – Israeli physicist and a reservist with the optical intelligence unit of the IDF who originally investigated the claims that Al Dura was killed by IDF soldiers. He concluded that the physical evidence indicates the fatal shots that killed Al Dura could not have come from the Israeli position. Shahaf eventually posited, as well, that the Al Dura shooting was a staged event.

Esther Shapira – German filmmaker who produced an investigative documentary suggesting that Mohammed Al Dura was more likely to have been shot by Palestinian gunmen than by Israeli soldiers. The documentary was broadcast on the German television network ARD in March 2002. A second documentary by Shapira and Georg M. Hafner, broadcast in by ARD in March 2009, raises further questions about the incident.

James Fallows – correspondent for the American periodical, Atlantic Monthly, who wrote an investigative article for the magazine in June 2003 that summarized evidence indicating Al Dura could not have been shot dead by Israeli soldiers.

Richard Landes –  history professor at Boston University and director/co-founder of the Center for Millennial Studies, who became involved in 2003 when he was introduced to MENA's Gerard Huber. Landes subsequently met with Shahaf and was shown the raw footage of the event by Charles Enderlin.  Convinced that the entire scene was staged, Landes has produced a documentary about  the event entitled Pallywood.

Luc Rosenzweig – a former journalist for the French daily Le Monde and freelance contributor to MENA who viewed the raw footage of the incident at the offices of France 2.

Denis Jeambar – editor of the French news magazine, L’Expresse, who viewed the raw footage at the offices of France 2.

Daniel Leconte – independent filmmaker, producer and director, and former France 2 journalist, who viewed the raw footage of the incident at the offices of France 2.

Phillipe Karsenty – head of the French media watchdog agency called Media Ratings who examined raw footage of the clip broadcast on France 2 and claims it is a hoax.

(For more, see http://www.m-r.fr/dossier.php?id=21)

Ronald Blum – French Member of Parliament representing Bouches-du-Rhône who called on France’s Minister of Communications to investigate France 2's evidence for claiming Israeli soldiers shot and killed Mohammed Al Dura.

Serge Farnel – French citizen and France 2 viewer who has filed requests with a mediator, the CSA, and the state council - the country's highest court - to urge France 2 to publicly acknowledge that there is no proof that the gunshots came from Israeli soldiers.

Nidra Poller – writer and author who lives in Paris.  Her most recent article on Al Dura "Myth, Fact and the al-Dura Affair" appears in the September 2005 edition of Commentary.

Dr. Yehuda David– surgeon who did reconstructive surgery on Jamal Al Dura's right arm and recognizes the scars Jamal displays (as proof that he was the victim of Israeli gunfire) as scars resulting from the surgery he performed on Jamal in 1994.

Israel  Government Review Committee –  investigative committee set up in September 2012 to examine the information from experts that has come to light regarding the Al Dura incident and to formulate an official Israeli government position on it. The committee includes representatives from the Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Strategic Affairs, Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, IDF Spokesperson's Unit and the Israeli Police, in consultation with outside sources.  After an intensive review of the facts available, the committee concludes that there is no evidence that Mohammed Al Dura was killed, much less that he was killed by Israeli forces and that this false claim was used as a propaganda tool against Israel.

Timeline

2000

Sept. 30, 2000:

Palestinian gunmen and Israelis soldiers clash at the Netzarim junction in the Gaza Strip. A large contingent of foreign reporters, photographers and television crews are present, including France 2 cameraman Talal Abu Rahma. Much of the day’s events are filmed by the various (20 or so) television crews, but only Abu Rahma records what he claims to be Mohammed  Al Dura’s death by Israeli bullets. (A Reuters clip apparently captures Jamal and Mohammed Al Dura filmed from a different angle.) He records 27 minutes of footage that day. While France 2 Middle East Bureau Chief Charles Enderlin is not at the scene at this time, he later views Abu Rahma’s clips and accepts the cameraman’s account of events.

Enderlin edits the film and provides the voice-over commentary for that evening’s news broadcast. Only a small portion (55 seconds) of Abu Rahma's footage is broadcast on the evening news. The footage shows Jamal Al Dura and his son Mohammed huddled behind a thick concrete barrel, gunshots hitting the wall behind them. The footage does not show the child dying.

Correspondent Charles Enderlin comments on the footage for France 2 :

3 pm... everything has turned over near the Netzarim settlement in the Gaza Strip...here Jamal and his son Mohammed are the targets of gunshots that have come from the Israeli position.... A new burst of gunfire, Mohammed is dead and his father seriously wounded.

France 2 distributes the footage – free of charge – to the global media, and it is broadcast around the world.

Oct. 1, 2000:

ABC's Gillian Findlay also says the boy died "under Israeli fire." She repeats this language a few days later. Other media outlets make clear that the father and son were caught in the crossfire between Israelis and Palestinians.

Oct. 3, 2000:

Palestinian Cameraman Testifies

Talal Abu Rahma volunteers to testify in a sworn statement to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights the details of what he saw at Netzarim on Sept. 30. He says:

I spent about 27 minutes photographing the incident which took place for 45 minutes.... I can confirm that the child was intentionally and in cold blood shot dead and his father injured by the Israeli army.

(For complete statement, click here.)

Preliminary IDF Investigation

There is no autopsy on the boy and no bullets recovered. After a hurried preliminary investigation, the IDF expresses sorrow over the tragedy, concluding that its troops were probably responsible for killing Al Dura. IDF Major General Giora Eiland says:

There is no way to prove who shot him. But from the angles from which we fired, it is likely that he was hit from our gunfire.... It is very reasonable that they were hit from our gunfire.

While the IDF attempts to put the incident to rest by accepting responsibility for Al Dura’s death, Major General Yom Tov Samia, commanding officer at the time, and other senior officers in the Southern Command are convinced that IDF soldiers have not shot the boy.

October 2000:

Nahum Shahaf, an Israeli physicist, contacts Major General Samia to voice his doubt about Israeli responsibility and offers to collaborate in an investigation of the matter. Samia agrees and the IDF investigates further.

Oct. 23, 2000:

An IDF re-enactment of the Al Dura incident, with the participation of Nahum Shahaf, raises serious doubt about whether the gunfire could have come from Israeli positions. Investigators lay out replicas of the Israeli army position, and the concrete barrel and wall which sheltered Al Dura. Soldiers fire shots at the barrel and wall using a variety of different weapons and study the indentations made by the bullets. Also studied is the dust clouds which result from the wall being struck by bullets from various angles. The shape and size of the clouds is compared to the shape and size of dust clouds in the video of Al Dura.

The re-enactment indicates that based on the location of the Israeli soldiers, the concrete barrel would have prevented Israeli bullets from hitting Jamal and Mohammed Al Dura. The bullet holes and dust clouds in the Al Dura video further indicate that the fatal shots could not have come from the Israeli position, but rather from an area more directly across from the father and son, near a Palestinian police position.

Oct. 25, 2000:

Telerama, a French magazine, publishes an interview with Charles Enderlin in which he explains the brevity of the news clip broadcast of the incident. He asserts:

I cut the images of the child's agony (death throes), they were unbearable. The story was told, the news delivered. It would not have added anything more...As for the moment when the child received the bullets, it was not even filmed.

Nov. 27, 2000:

IDF releases the findings of its comprehensive investigation into the Al Dura killing. It concludes that Al Dura was likely killed by Palestinian gunfire. States Israeli Major General Yom Tov Samia:

A comprehensive investigation conducted in the last weeks casts serious doubt that the boy was hit by Israeli fire. It is quite plausible that the boy was hit by Palestinian bullets in the course of the exchange of fire that took place in the area.

2002

March 18, 2002:

German television station ARD broadcasts a documentary produced by filmmaker Esther Shapira investigating the Al Dura shooting incident. The film suggests that the boy was more likely to have been hit by a Palestinian bullet than an Israeli bullet.

Sept. 30, 2002:

In a fax sent to France 2 offices in Jerusalem, Talal Abu Rahma contradicts his Oct. 3, 2000 testimony. He states:

I never said to the Palestinian Human Rights Organization in Gaza that the Israeli soldiers killed willfully or knowingly Mohammed Al Dura and wounded the father. All I always said in all the interviews I gave is that from where I was, I saw the shooting coming from the Israeli position.

Oct. 2, 2002:

Thousands of demonstrators gather outside the offices of France 2 in Paris to protest the network's handling of the Al Dura footage, and its refusal to broadcast Esther Shapira's documentary. Protesters "award" France 2 the "Prize for Disinformation."

Nov. 18, 2002:

The Metula News Agency (MENA) requests a meeting with France 2 Director General Christopher Baldelli to discuss MENA's ongoing investigation into the Al Dura affair. This investigation finds that France 2's footage of Mohammed Al Dura does not correspond to that of someone mortally wounded by high velocity bullets. Baldelli does not reply.

2003

Jan. 13, 2003:

"Contre-expertise d'une mise en scene" (Re-evaluation of a Staged Event), a book written by French writer Gerard Huber, is published, detailing MENA’s ongoing investigation into the Al Dura affair. The book's thesis is that the event was staged.

June 2003:

An investigative article by James Fallows is published in the Atlantic Monthly. Fallows presents the known facts and different opinions surrounding the Al Dura affair. His conclusion is that Al Dura could not have been shot dead by Israeli soldiers. He writes:

It now appears that the boy cannot have died in the way reported by most of the world's media and fervently believed throughout the Islamic world. Whatever happened to him, he was not shot by the Israeli soldiers who were known to be involved in the day's fighting ...The truth about this case will probably never be determined.

September 2003:

Atlantic Monthly publishes letters in response to the Fallows piece.

Charles Enderlin again asserts that he cut scenes of the boy's death throes:

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.

Esther Shapira writes:

I've always said that I see more significant hints (but no proof) that he [Al Dura] was shot by Palestinians.

Fallows responds that what changed his mind about the incident was "watching footage of the shooting replayed dozens of times." Fallows states that:

It seemed evident from the footage that at the crucial moments, the father and son had sheltered themselves behind the barrel, relative to the IDF position, and that the boy was further sheltered by the father. They were entirely unsheltered from gunfire coming from other directions, including the known location of Palestinian policemen.

2004

Oct. 22, 2004:

Denis Jeambar, Daniel Leconte, and Luc Rosenzweig are invited to view the full 27 minutes of unedited footage with France 2's Arlette Chabot. They are informed by France 2's counsel that cameraman Talal Abu Rahma had already recanted his previous testimony to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. (Note: This is the first that anyone has heard about recanting of the testimony.) They also discover that the overwhelming majority of the footage is not of Al Dura, but of Palestinians staging re-enactments of injuries. There are no scenes of the agony and death throes that Enderlin claims to have edited from the broadcast.

October 2004:

France 2 does not accede to the request of Rosenzweig, Jeambar, and Leconte to meet with and interview Talal Abu Rahma when he is in Paris.

Nov. 18, 2004:

France 2 Director of News Arlette Chabot announces France 2's intention to file defamation suits against unnamed parties (known in French legal terminology as suits against 'X') in response to accusations that the scenes of Al Dura were staged.

Nov. 19, 2004:

France 2 Director of News Arlette Chabot holds a press conference for a select group of journalists in France 2's offices to back claims by the network that it was on firm ground when it broadcast the Al Dura news report on September 30, 2000.  According to AFP, Chabot has attendees screened at the door in order to bar MENA representatives and  other critics of the network.  Attendees are shown the September 30 France 2 footage and a Reuters film clip taken from a different angle.  Also shown are France 2 film clips of Jamal Al Dura in the hospital shortly after the incident, a later film of Al Dura revealing his scars to the camera, and film of a child in the morgue said to be Mohammed Al Dura .

Nov. 25, 2004:

Roland Blum, French Member of Parliament, writes to the Minister of Communications requesting an investigation of France 2's evidence that Israeli soldiers shot and killed Mohammed Al Dura.

Nov. 26, 2004:

Writing in Wall Street Journal Europe, Stephane Juffa of MENA states that the affair is "nothing but a hoax."

Dec. 7, 2004:

Following a complaint by Serge Farnel, the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (CSA) – an administrative authority over audiovisual media whose councillors are appointed by the French government – meet to discuss complaints about France 2's handling of the September 30, 2000 newscast of Al Dura. Its recommendations include

Checking the veracity of  information to be broadcast or, in case of uncertainty, presenting it as tentative and quoting its source and date; In the event of broadcasting inaccurate information, correcting it as soon as possible  under comparable conditions of exposure

2005

Jan. 25, 2005:

Following its rejection by Le Monde opinion page editor Sylvan Cypel, Le Figaro publishes an op-ed by Jeambar and Leconte. Recalling Enderlin's claim about having cut "unbearable" footage of the child's agony, the journalists note:

This famous "agony" that Enderlin affirmed having caught in a montage does not exist.

And that:

nothing could enable [Enderlin] to affirm that [Al Dura] is dead and even less that he was killed by Israeli soldiers.

According to the two journalists, the geography of the area "would incriminate instead one of the Palestinian bullets." They explain that France 2's experts acknowledged that "we'll never know where the gunfire came from." However, they distance themselves from MENA’s claim that Al Dura’s death was a staged event, stating that they do not have the evidence to support this claim.

Jan. 27, 2005:

Enderlin responds in Le Figaro, accusing MENA of leading a defamatory campaign against him and France 2 over the past 4 years. He explains his reasons for stating that Al Dura was killed Israeli fire:

a) this is what Talal Abu Rahma told him and he had full confidence in his cameraman

b) the IDF did not initiate a joint investigation with France 2, nor did the IDF spokesman’s office respond to the network’s proposal to launch a joint investigation into the matter

c) The image corresponded to the greater reality of the situation, "not only in Gaza, but in the West Bank."

Feb. 1, 2005:

Jeambar and Leconte are interviewed on French radio station RCJ. The journalists explain that  the scene of Mohammed Al Dura and his father were completely out of context with the rest of the film.  They wonder about the narrator's perspective from a journalistic point of view. They describe 24 out of the  27 minutes of France 2's rushes (raw footage) as being comprised of staged events — i.e.  Palestinian boys looking at the camera, pretending to fall and getting up to dash off when they see that nothing is happening,  and  ambulances that come and go evacuating people who have no injuries.  They also raise questions about the lack of blood on Jamal Al Dura's T-shirt.

Feb. 6, 2005:

The International Herald Tribune publishes an article describing the controversy within France about the  September 30 news report broadcast by France 2.  This article is republished the following day in the New York Times.

Feb. 15, 2005:

Cybercast News Service publishes an article by Eva Cahen comprising interviews with the major players in the ongoing controversy.

Feb. 21, 2005:

MENA criticizes Jeambar and Leconte for distancing themselves from MENA’s thesis that the Al Dura death was a hoax, staged by the Palestinians. Stephane Juffa labels this approach  the "third way". Juffa criticizes it as "an intellectual fabrication that chooses from among the conclusions of our inquiry — rather like in a self-service — and claims to offer a sort of compromise. A compromise that is somewhere between the ‘truth too far’ for the French implicated in the staging and the theory — that has been proven to be indefensible — of the assassination of Mohammed by the Israeli army. Distinguishing themselves from those who persist in their denial, and who devote much of their energy to denigrating or insulting our journalists, the partisans of the third way today assert that they cannot take a stand regarding the question of the staging, while accepting the idea that the report broadcasted by FR2 is replete with serious professional errors committed by its authors."

April 20, 2005:

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Moshe Ya'alon says of Al Dura: "One hundred percent he was not hit by IDF gunfire. He was apparently shot by a Palestinian police officer."

September, 2005:

Nidra Poller summarizes the Al Dura affair — France 2's deceptive misreporting and cover-up —  and questions the role played by government-owned France 2 and consequently the French government itself in initiating and spreading  "this atrocious calumny, whose repercussions are with us to this day." 

October 12, 2005:

France 2 public relations representatives send out an e-mail defending the network's role in reporting on Mohammed Al Dura and falsely alleging that an "authoritative American opinion" by the US government "discredits" the IDF investigation concluding that Al Dura was not killed by Israeli bullets. (In fact, there was no such US government statement.  This is a false characterization of inaccurate and biased testimony by an Amnesty International representative. See "The Al Dura Affair: France 2 Now Lying about Congress Subcommittee Report" )

2006

Sept. 14, 2006:

A defamation lawsuit is brought against Philippe Karsenty by Charles Enderlin, France 2, and Arlette Chabot. This is the first of three trials brought by the French television network against individuals who have accused Enderlin and France 2 of fraudulent reporting in the Al Dura case.

Oct. 19, 2006:

The French court finds in favor of the plaintiffs—France 2 and Enderlin.  Karsenty is found guilty of defamation and is fined 1000 euros, court costs of 3000 euro and symbolic damages to the plaintiffs in the amount of 1 euro each. Karsenty is appealing the verdict.

Oct. 24, 2006:

The defamation lawsuit against Pierre Lurçat, a French-born Israeli lawyer and president of a group called Liberty, Democracy and Judaism, takes place at the Palais de Justice.  Lurçat's group is listed as the legal operator of a Web site, Ligue de Defense Juive, which, in 2002, urged its readers to "demonstrate against the lies of France 2" and  award a "Prize for Misinformation" to Charles Enderlin and France 2. Lurçat who lives in Jerusalem is not present at the trial.

Nov. 28, 2006:

The  lawsuit against Pierre Lurçat is dismissed on a technicality, namely, insufficient proof that Pierre Lurçat is responsible for the Web site on which the alleged defamatory statements were made.

Nov. 30, 2006:

A defamation lawsuit by France 2 and Enderlin is brought against Charles Gouz, a Parisian physician who posted an Oct. 1, 2002  letter by Stephane Juffa  on his blog that included criticism of Charles Enderlin.  In fact, the letter by Juffa expressed opposition to the awarding of the Misinformation Prize to Charles Enderlin, but, at the same time, also criticized Enderlin for "serious professional errors in the Al Dura affair," and affirmed there were "serious presumptions of misinformation" surrounding the Al Dura affair and of the part played  France 2 staff.  The letter also referred to "brutal and unacceptable obstructions" to demonstrating the truth of what happened. Since France 2 and Enderlin are unable to bring charges against Juffa who publishes in Israel, Gouz serves as a proxy since his Web site is registered in France.

2007

Jan. 18, 2007:

The court passes a "mitigated judgement" against Dr. Gouz. The judge declares Gouz was within his rights in posting an article about "serious professional errors" by Enderlin, and acknowledges that France 2 and its staff have not been transparent in their dealings, showing no willingness to expose the truth.  However, the judge rules that Gouz should not have permitted the word "désinformation" (misinformation) to be used on his Web site.  Gouz is ordered to pay symbolic damages to the plaintiffs in the amount of 1 Euro and a suspended fine of 1000 Euro. 

Sept. 10, 2007:

After seven years of official silence, the IDF finally weighs in on the case. Colonel Shlomi Am-Shalom, deputy commander of the IDF's Spokesman's Office, sends a letter to Charles Enderlin disputing his insistence that  no Israeli authority— be it  Israel's army or  Justice Ministry—has ever questioned the authenticity of France 2's September 30, 2000 broadcast. The colonel notes that repeated attempts by the IDF to view the raw footage filmed by Abu Rahma were rebuffed and indicates that results of the IDF inquiry analyzing  data from the scene ruled out the possibility that the gunfire that apparently harmed the boy and his father was fired by IDF soldiers. The colonel further requests broadcast-quality films of the 27-minutes of raw footage filmed by Talal Abu Rahma and footage he filmed the following day be sent to the IDF by September 15.  France 2 does not comply. 

Sept. 19, 2007:

The 11th Chamber of the Appeals Court of Paris hears Philippe Karsenty's appeal of his October 19, 2006 verdict. The presiding appeals judge requests France 2 turn over the raw footage of the incident to the court.

Oct. 1, 2007:

Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center publiciizes a letter written by Danny Seaman, Director of Israel's Government Press Office (GPO) in response to the law center's request 9 months earlier to remove Charles Enderlin's and France 2's Israeli journalist credentials given mounting evidence that they committed journalistic fraud. Seaman writes that "the creation of the myth of Muhammad al-Dura has caused great damage to the State of Israel" and calls it "an explicit blood libel against the state," which "caused damage and dozens of dead." The GPO document concludes that the September 2000 broadcast was staged, indicating that soldiers could not possibly have shot Al-Dura from the angle at which they were standing, that crucial parts of the scene are missing from the video footage provided to major media outlets and that Talal Abu Rahma systematically engaged in the "staging of action scenes" during the violent clashes in Gaza at the beginning of the intifada in 2000. This is the first official document accusing France 2 of journalistic fraud. The  Prime Minister's Office disassociates itself from the GPO director's letter.

Oct. 3, 2007:

The court issues a court order to France 2 to submit Abu Rahma's original 27 minutes of  footage to the court no later than October 31 for a viewing open to the public on November 14. The case will be heard in full on February 27, 2008.

Nov. 14, 2007:

Enderlin delivers only 18 minutes of the supposed 27 minutes of raw footage.  Richard Landes, who in 2003 viewed over 20 minutes of the film in Endelin's office, testifies that two clearly staged scenes are missing.  What is evident is there is minimal footage of Al Dura and that he is still alive at the end of the film, directly contradicting previous claims by Enderlin that much of the film was of the boy's "death throes" and by cameraman Abu Rahma that he had filmed 27 minutes of Israeli shooting at the boy.  This causes audience skepticism about the entire film.

Dec. 12, 2007:

Dr. Yehuda David, an Israeli orthopedic surgeon specializing in microsurgery at Tel Hashomer Hospital, is interviewed on Israel Channel 10 to reveal that the scars displayed by Jamal Al Dura on a film taken after the September 30 incident, were not, as Jamal claimed, inflicted by Israeli fire during the incident, but were the scars from a previous surgery that Yehuda himself had performed. Jamal was severely wounded in a 1992  attack by axe-wielding Palestinian thugs and was treated at Gaza's Shifa Hospital.  The Gazan physicians were unable to repair his right hand which remained paralyzed.  He was referred to Dr. Yehuda who, in 1994, reconstructed the tendons in a complex operation.  The Israeli physician demonstrates that Jamal's scars (filmed as  "proof" that Israelis had shot and wounded Jamal) were in fact typical of tendon fiber transfer and not of a gunshot wound.

2008

April 24, 2008:

Just weeks before the appeals court is to deliver its judgement on Pilippe Karsenty's appeal, the French pay television channel Canal+ broadcasts a documentary defending Charles Enderlin/France 2 and impugning Philippe Karsenty. Broadcast on is weekly investigative program, Jeudi Investigation and entitled "Rumeurs, intox: les nouvelles guerres de l'info" ("Rumors, Brainwashing: The New Information Wars"), filmmaker Stéphane Malterre equates Philippe Karsenty's dissection of the France 2 broadcast and the conclusion that it was staged with the allegations of U.S. "truthers"—who argue that the 9/11 attack in New York was an "inside job" carried out by the U.S. government against its own citizens — and those of anti-Semites who accuse Zionists and Jews of being behind the 9/11 attack.  The documentary accuses Karsenty of falsifying information on the internet in order to promote an extremist and radical viewpoint. Karsenty sues for defamation.

May 21, 2008:

The court reverses the lower court’s judgement that found Karsenty guilty of defaming France 2 and Charles Enderlin, concluding that "Philippe Karsenty exercised his right of free criticism in good faith; that, in doing so, he did not overstep the limits of the freedom of expression." The judgement cites "the contradictory answers given by Charles Enderlin to the questions relating to the editing of the film,"the "inexplicable inconsistencies of the viewable images," and the "contradictory answers of [cameraman Talal Abu Rahma] on the issue of the sequence of the scenes and the conditions under which they were filmed."

June 4, 2008:

Hundreds of French journalists – friends and colleagues of Enderlin’s – together with several French "personalities" and internet readers, post a petition of support for Charles Enderlin on the website of the Nouvel Observateur, a weekly magazine. They characterize him as the victim of an "obstinate and hateful campaign to tarnish [his] professional dignity." They are amazed, the petition states, that the court would "grant the same credibility to a journalist known for his serious and rigorous work who practices his profession under sometimes difficult conditions as to his detractors who are engaged in a campaign of negation and discredit, who ignore the realities of the terrain and who have no experience reporting from a conflict zone."

June 7-13, 2008:

Several French journalists and personalities break rank with the petition signatories, condemning the petition and/or calling for an investigation.  Among these are Figaro columnist  Ivan Riofoul and Elie Barnavi, a historian and former Israeli ambassador to France.

July 2, 2008:

The Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF) holds a press conference where it calls on French President Nicolas Sarkozy to establish an independent investigative commission on the Al Dura affair. CRIF's proposed "independent" commission, however, includes France 2 as well as CRIF itself.

2009

March 4, 2009:

Germany's ARD public television station broadcasts "The Child, the Death and the Truth," a documentary by reporters Esther Schapira and Georg M. Hafner. In an interview with Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper about the documentary's findings, Schapira asserts: "We can’t say for sure today whether or not the film was faked. But one thing is clear — the version of the story that went around the world was certainly not right, even if France 2 still claims it was." However, she does say there is a "high probability" that the film was faked. A biometric analysis of faces, she says, determined that contrary to what has been claimed the boy filmed at an autopsy and funeral was not Mohammed Al Dura.

2010

June 10, 2010:

The criminal court of Nanterre finds Canal+ and the production company Tac Prsse guilty of slandering Philippe Karsenty in their April 24, 2008 documentary (see above) by suggesting that  Karsenty had manipulated facts on his internet site to support the "radical and extremist viewpoint" that Enderlin's France 2 broadcast about Al Dura was staged. The judges concluded that filmmaker Stephane Malterre had ignored relevant evidence about the Al Dura hoax and demonstrated a lack of objectivity in sullying Karsenty's reputation.

2011

April, 2011

A libel suit by Jamal Al Dura against Dr. Yehuda David in a Paris court finds the doctor guilty for libel in his claim that Al Dura's paralysis was not the result of Israeli shooting at the Netzarim junction, but  a result of his previous injuries by Palestinian thugs (See 2007).  David appeals to a higher court.

2012

February 15, 2012:

Dr. Yehuda David wins his appeal of the libel suit brought against him by Jamal al Dura.

February 28, 2012:

The French Supreme Court (Court of Annulment) overturns the May 2008 appeals court decision in Karsenty's favor on technical grounds, arguing that the defender (Karsenty) is supposed to produce his own evidence. The case is sent back to the Court of Appeals of Paris to be heard again by a new panel of judges who will either confirm or  revoke the earlier appeal court ruling in Karsenty's favor. (For more details on the ongoing appeals case, click here.)

September, 2012:

In light of damaging effects on Israel caused by misleading media coverage of the alleged Al Dura killing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuan sets up an investigative committee, directed by Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon to re-examine all the facts that have come to light about the Al Dura incident and to formulate an official Israeli government position on the matter. The committee includes representatives from the Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Strategic Affairs, Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, IDF Spokesperson's Unit and the Israeli Police, in consultation with outside sources.

2013

May 19, 2013:

The report of an Israeli Government Review Committee on the Al Dura incident is released.  It concludes that there is no evidence that Al Dura was killed and that this claim was used to foment hatred and terrorism against Israel and has contributed to the delegitimization of the Jewish state. The report stresses "the need for media outlets to implement the highest professional and tehtical standards when covering asymmetric conflicts" and to "critically evaluate iinformation provided by local stringers, especially in arenas in which repeated attempts to stage or fabricate media items have been documented." The report insists that given the evidence which has come to light, "France 2 should have retracted or qualified the unequivocal claims of its reporter that the boy was the target of Israeli fire and died in the sequence shown."(Click here for report.)

Claims and Counterclaims

Talal Abu Rahma

Abu Rahma originally claimed that Israeli soldiers deliberately shot at Mohammed and Jamal Al Dura for 45 minutes, of which 27 were filmed by him.

"I spent approximately 27 minutes photographing the incident which took place for 45 minutes.... I can confirm that the child was intentionally and in cold blood shot dead and his father injured by the Israeli army." [October 3, 2000, in sworn affadavit given voluntarily to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)] For complete testimony, go to PCHR website.

Four years later (October 22, 2004) upon viewing the raw footage in the offices of France 2, independent journalists Luc Rosenzweig, Denis Jeambar and Daniel Leconte discover Abu Rahma’s claim that he filmed 27 minutes of footage of Israeli soldiers firing at Al Dura was false. At that time, they were told by France 2's counsel Didier Epelbaum that Abu Rahma had retracted his testimony. However, there has been no public statement nor any official indication that Abu Rahma indeed retracted his testimony and PCHR’s website still carries Abu Rahma’s official testimony. In fact, France 2 communications director Christine Delavennat denies that Abu Rahma ever contradicted his claim. She maintains that according to Abu Rahma, the statement was falsely attributed to him. On the other hand, this is disputed by Palestinian Human Rights Centre Raji Sunami, the lawyer present when Talal Abu Rahma voluntarily testified and signed the affidavit.

Charles Enderlin

Enderlin's original claim was that bullets from the Israeli position killed Mohammed Al Dura and gravely wounded his father.

"3 pm... everything has turned over near the Netzarim settlement in the Gaza Strip...here Jamal and his son Mohammed are the targets of gunshots that have come from the Israeli position.... A new burst of gunfire, Mohammed is dead and his father seriously wounded." [September 30, 2000, France 2 evening newscast]

He then insisted that he had cut out the images of the boy's agony because they were unbearable and unnecessary for the newscast.

"I cut the images of the child's agony (death throes), they were unbearable. The story was told, the news delivered. It would not have added anything more..." [Telerama, October 25, 2000]

"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." [ September 2003, in letter to Atlantic Monthly.]

When questions were raised about the authenticity of the broadcast, Enderlin maintained that he was the victim of defamation by extreme right-wing groups.

"The accusations [against Enderlin] are calumnies, spread by extreme right-wing organizations that claimed that that picture was staged." [ June 4, 2003, in interview with Vendredi, Samedi, Dimanche magazine (France).]

He defended his original claim that the fatal bullets were from the Israeli position, and insisted that it represented the overall reality of the situation.

"Why [did I] state ... that the bullets came from the Israeli position?…

...Talal [Abu Rahma], who filmed the scene, indicated that this was the case .... Talal has worked for our network since 1988, with our full confidence…

...In the following days, further evidence – from journalists and certain sources – came in confirming these facts to me…

...Never at any moment did the [Israeli] army...propose to collaborate in a proper investigation…

…Furthermore, for me, the image corresponded not only to the reality of the situation in Gaza but also to that in the West Bank. The Israeli army responded to the Palestinian uprising with massive firing of live bullets." [January 27, 2005, in letter to French daily Le Figaro]

MENA (Stephane Juffa, Gerard Huber)

The Metula News Agency (MENA) maintains that France 2's Talal Abu Rahma and Charles Enderlin lied and that the entire Al Dura incident was staged with the purpose of demonizing the Israeli army. 

"The Metula News Agency, confirming the conclusions of the inquiry appointed by the commander of the southern front of the Israeli army, led by the physicist Nahum Shahaf, has constantly asserted that Abu-Rahma's declaration was a false testimony and that the 27 minutes of film of the incident did not exist…

…The news report produced by Talal Abu-Rahma and Charles Enderlin, is a gross staging, aimed at demonizing Israel and the Israeli army. The soldiers accused by the commentary of the permanent correspondent of France 2 at Jerusalem did not fire a single at the adult Jamal Al-Dura and the child at his side, as they were completely unaware of their presence on the scene." ["The Al-Dura case : a dramatic conclusion" (info # 010311/4EV) Stéphane Juffa © Metula News Agency, November 3, 2004 ]

"The whole thing was a hoax... He [Nahum Shahaf] demonstrated that since the shots must have come from directly behind or next to the cameraman, the whole scene of the supposed infanticide must have been staged, and that the boy seen in the film was not killed at all. Going through the film in slow motion, he could even see the cameraman's finger making a ‘take two’ sign, used by professionals to signal the repeat of a scene…

Three years ago I interviewed Mr. Shahaf, and after viewing all his evidence I realized that this might be one of the greatest media manipulations the world has ever seen. We started our own investigations and wrote over 150 articles on the issue, concluding that the French report is, beyond any reasonable doubt, pure fiction."

[Stephane Juffa, Wall Street Journal Europe, Nov. 29, 2004]

MENA raises doubts about the alleged timing of Al Dura's death. (Atlantic Monthly's James Fallows and former Le Monde journalist Luc Rosenzweig raise this same point.)

"We have the testimonies of Dr. Joumaa Saka and Dr. Muhamad El-Tawil, two Palestinian doctors of the Gaza Shifa hospital who said Mohammed's lifeless body was brought to them before 1 p.m. The problem is that Charles Enderlin, the France 2 correspondent in Jerusalem, claimed in the disputed report that the shooting started at 3 p.m. How can someone be killed by bullets that were fired hours after he was already dead? This is only one of the many questions that the French state TV channel needs to answer." [Stephane Juffa, Wall Street Journal Europe, Nov. 29, 2004]

MENA questions whether Al Dura is indeed dead. 

"It remains unproven whether Al Dura was actually killed. The badly wounded corpse of a child was shown by doctors at the Shifa hospital in Gaza. That child was dead, but he is not the child seen in the famous TV newscast."[Gerard Huber, Contre-expertise d’une mise en scene, Editions Raphael, 2003]

"The child we see during the shooting is not the same child that we see in the morgue in other footage, who has bullet wounds and is identified as Mohammed al-Durra by hospital staff." [Stéphane Juffa, in interview with CNS's Eva Cahen]

Stéphane Juffa criticizes those journalists who do not endorse MENA's theory that the Al Dura incident was staged.

MENA criticizes the "third way" espoused by Jeambar and Leconte as "an intellectual fabrication that chooses from among the conclusions of our inquiry – rather like in a self-service – and claims to offer a sort of compromise. A compromise that is somewhere between the ‘truth too far’ for the French implicated in the staging and the theory – that has been proven to be indefensible – of the assassination of Mohammed by the Israeli army. Distinguishing themselves from those who persist in their denial, and who devote much of their energy to denigrating or insulting our journalists, the partisans of the third way today assert that they cannot take a stand regarding the question of the staging, while accepting the idea that the report broadcasted by FR2 is replete with serious professional errors committed by its authors." ["Une vérité trop loin" Stéphane Juffa © Metula News Agency, February 21, 2005]

Luc Rosenzweig

Luc Rosenzweig believes Charles Enderlin and Talal Abu Rahma to have repeatedly lied in order to cover up the original lie.

"Charles Enderlin has lied about the Al Dura case multiple times. He lied when he stated that he cut the images of the child’s agony because it was unbearable. "These images do not exist, as I can certify having viewed on October 22, 2004 the raw footage provided by Enderlin under the orders of the network. Could it be that these images exist but remain hidden? It is highly improbable because in this case, Charles Enderlin and France 2 would not have failed to show them in order to silence those people who...have pointed out this anomaly...

Talal Abu Rahma lied multiple times and told German filmmaker Esther Shapira that he did not divulge all the secrets of the affair, implying that he was keeping quiet about other elements that proved the guilt of the Israeli army." ["Charles Enderlin, menteur en toutes les langues (info # 010302/5)" analysisby Luc Rosenzweig © Metula News Agency, February 3, 2005]

Rosenzweig believes that Abu Rahma is a nationalistic Palestinian who originated the claim that Mohammed Al Dura was shot by Israelis in order to further the Palestinian intifada and to turn  world opinion against Israel.

"Talal Abu Rahma is one of several dozen Palestinian journalists, photographers and cameramen who work in Gaza for the international media. Over the past 10 years, he has been a regular collaborator with CNN and France 2. The information coming out of Gaza is controlled by these Palestinian contributors to large media outlets, without whom it is impossible to travel through the area. Their physical and financial survival depend on their allegiance to the Palestinian Authority and a number of them, including Talal Abu Rahma, are considered, in addition, militants for the Palestinian national cause... It was necessary to feed popular anger (at the start of the intifada) with violent images which would galvanize the militants and demonstrate Israel as monstrous in the eyes of the entire worl. Talal Abu Rahma was the most skillful and luckiest professionally in his construction of one of these ‘patriotic lies’..." ["Charles Enderlin, menteur en toutes les langues (info # 010302/5)" analysis by Luc Rosenzweig © Metula News Agency, February 3, 2005]

Rosenzweig believes that events surrounding the Al Dura incident were staged.

"In the controversial case of Netzarim, it is evident when the rushes are seen that there is a concerted attempt on the part of the photographers and cameramen – all Palestinian – who were present on the ground, to manufacture images of shock, fake wounds, fake ambulance transports – a fact that even the directors of France 2 recognizes. At the Netzarim junction, there operated a small street theatre..." ["Charles Enderlin, menteur en toutes les langues (info # 010302/5)" analysis by Luc Rosenzweig © Metula News Agency, February 3, 2005]

He claims that Enderlin is an unethical journalist to have furthered the claim that Al Dura was shot by Israelis without any evidence.

"Charles Enderlin was not at the place and wrote this [his commentary on the Al Dura footage] based upon the information of his cameraman, in whom he says he has complete confidence. He obtains no confirmation of this incident from the Israeli side, where the IDF spokesman on service that day, Yarden Vatikai, answers him that he will launch an inquiry whose results he’ll inform him of...Now, he claims in an article in the Figaro newspaper of January 27, 2005 that the 'image corresponded to the reality of the situation, not only in Gaza, but in the West Bank.' For lack of witness, therefore, one would count as truth a fact because it seems probable to you. The reality of the situation was also that the Palestinian position sought at all costs and by all means to give Israeli repression of the riots the blackest possible image. From an ethical point of view, Enderlin’s attitude is at the very least subject to debate – can one make such an allegation on the basis of only one single source, whatever it is? At the time he charges the IDF, Enderlin has no evidence that permits him professionally to do that." ["Charles Enderlin, menteur en toutes les langues (info # 010302/5)" analysis by Luc Rosenzweig © Metula News Agency, February 3, 2005]

He raises questions about the authenticity of the Al Dura incident itself.

"…In his commentary, Charles Enderlin asserts without proof that the bullets came from the Israeli side and explains that the shooting took place at 3 pm whereas the doctors at the Gaza hospital remember that the body of the child arrived between 11 am and 1 pm. This created many lies."  [quoted in Le Monde, Nov. 19, 2004]

Denis Jeambar and Daniel Leconte

Denis Jeambar and Daniel Leconte are among the few independent journalists who viewed France 2's raw footage. They express concern about what they saw.

"We were extremely disturbed by what we had seen there in the projection of the rushes [raw footage] in Arlette Chabot's office..." [Denis Jeambar, in interview with RCJ radio, February 1, 2005.]

They are troubled by Enderlin's attribution of Al Dura's death to Israelis although France 2's raw footage provides no substantiation for this viewpoint, and they cite evidence suggesting that Al Dura was killed by Palestinians.

"We know the ravages caused by this image [of Al Dura], the hate that it fostered and developed... it has been presented on the basis of the commentary furnished by Charles Enderlin as an example of Israeli barbarism. ...The crucial footage demonstrates that when Charles Enderlin gives up the little one for dead, killed by the Israelis, nothing could enable him to affirm that he [Al Dura] is really dead and even less that he was killed by Israeli soldiers. On the contrary, everything – beginning with the location of each party on the ground – would incriminate instead one of the Palestinian bullets." [January 25, 2005, in Le Figaro]

"The only ones who could hit the child were the Palestinians from their position. If they had been Israeli bullets, they would be very strange bullets because they would have needed to go around the corner." [Daniel Leconte, in interview with Cybercast News Service, published February 15, 2005]

Jeambar describes faked injuries which make up most of France 2's raw footage. 

"…In the 24 minutes of film preceding the footage of Al Dura, young Palestinians are performing for the television cameras. They "fall and when they think that no one is around, they get up. ...it was interesting to realize that the narrator had this perspective. This is a behind-the-scene that was never shown [on TV]. They completely fake their injuries, the comings and goings of an ambulance that evacuates people who do not actually have any injury. It is also an important element of the film and moreover one that establishes the first image. It was extraordinarily troubling. And the second troubling element was the scene itself, i.e. it needed to be verified, because the father wore a T-shirt without any trace of blood and this was one of the elements that also troubled us." [Denis Jeambar, in interview with RCJ radio, February 1, 2005.]

Leconte suggests that the French public's anti-Israeli preconceptions may have influenced Enderlin's misleading commentary.

"[The report that Israel shot the boy] generally corresponded to what the global French opinion wanted to hear at that time, and that, I think, is what seems to me to be the most alarming as a whole. I have the feeling that one has a pre-patterned version of what happens in the Middle East and that, in the end, the facts are assembled to preserve that pattern. And I believe that, if you will, it isn't the role of a journalist to do that.... Nobody is immune from error... But the minimum when one makes mistakes such as these which are also serious with many consequences, is to admit them." [Daniel Leconte, in interview with RCJ radio, February 1, 2005.]

Jeambar and Leconte do not claim that the whole affair is a hoax. They believe that there is insufficient evident to draw such a conclusion. They believe that Charles Enderlin should not have claimed the boy was shot dead by Israeli soldiers, and that this error should be remedied.

Dr. David Yehuda 

Dr. Yehuda, the surgeon who operated on Jamal Al Dura, recognizes the scars Jamal says are "proof" that Israeli soldiers fired at him, as those from the reconstructive surgery he performed on Jamal.

"This [Jamal's scar] is a typical scar resulting from a tendon transplant repair...There is no possiblity in this case for dispute, for a misunderstanding. It is impossible that this [what Jamal displayed on film] is a bullet wound — so long, so thin, so nice (delicate)." [Israeli Channel 10, December 12, 2007]
 

Israel Government Review Commission 

An investigative committee, directed by Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon, set up in September 2012 to examine the information from experts that has come to light regarding the Al Dura incident and to formulate an official Israeli government position concludes that there is no evidence to support France 2's claim that Mohammed Al Dura was killed by Israeli soldiers, or even that he was killed at all. 

"Contrary to the report's claim that the boy was killed, the committee's review of the raw footage showed that in the final scenes, which were not broadcast by France 2, the boy is seen to be alive. The review revealed that there is no evidence that Jamal or the boy were wounded in the manner claimed in the report, and that the footage does not depict Jamal as having been badly injured. In contrast, there are numerous indications that the two were not struck by bullets at all. There is no evidence that the IDF was in any way responsible for causing any of the alleged injuries to Jamal and the boy. The review showed that it is highly-doubtful that bullet holes in the vicinity of the two could have had their source in fire from the Israeli position, as implied in the France 2 report." [Report of the Government Review Committee, May 19, 2013]

France 2 Administration (Arlette Chabot, Christine Delavennat)

Chabot threatens to file suit against accusers of the television network.

"For six months, rumors were launched saying that France 2 allowed itself to be manipulated – that the boy was not dead, that his father was not injured and that all this was a 'staged scene' obligingly filmed by France 2. The network does not accept the impugning of its journalists' professionalism and impartiality and is filing a complaint to end this defamation campaign." [Arlette Chabot, quoted in Le Monde, Nov. 19, 2004]

"It's a crazy story. Every time we address one question, then another question surfaces. It's very difficult to fight a rumor. The point is that four years later, no one can say for certain who killed him, Palestinians or Israelis." [Arlette Chabot, quoted in International Herald Tribune, Feb. 7, 2005]

She maintains that the photographs of the boy at the morgue and the France 2 footage of Al Dura show the same child and airs a film of the father displaying wounds he says are gunshot wounds inflicted by Israeli soldiers.

"It is indeed the same child and we are ready to deliver his photographs for official evaluation." [Arlette Chabot, quoted in Le Monde, Nov. 19, 2004]

Christine Delavennat maintains France 2's innocence and insists that none of the scenes in the footage were staged.  She claims that lawsuits have already been filed against France 2's accusers.

"France 2 communications director Christine Delavennat told Cybercast News Service in an interview that none of the scenes on the cassette was staged and the cameraman and the station stood by that claim. Delavennat has invited the "accusers to bring the proof," calling the debate "indecent" and warning that the station has already filed eight lawsuits against its accusers, most of them for defamation." [as cited in "French TV Sticks by Story That Fueled Palestinian Intifada" Eva Cahen, Cybercast News Service, February 15, 2005]

Other related Web pages:

The Second Draft: Al Dura Investigation 

Al Dura Project

Metulla News Agency

 


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