The Israeli army has asked a French television network to turn over unedited footage of the shooting death of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy in the Gaza Strip, officials said Monday, reopening one of the most contentious incidents of the second Palestinian uprising.
An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the military is seeking the material from the France 2 network in connection with a legal dispute in France between the network and a media watchdog who accuses the network of staging the incident.
Viewers around the world were shocked by footage captured by the France 2 network on Sept. 30, 2000, showing the death of Mohammed al-Dura. The images showed the terrified boy and his father, Jamal, cowering in front of a wall amid a furious exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
In the France 2 news report, the father gestures frantically to try to stop the shooting as the boy screams in terror. It then cuts to a shot of the motionless boy slumped in his father’s lap. The report said the gunfire had come from nearby Israeli positions.
Seven years later, the circumstances of the shooting remain in dispute.
Debate persists over death circumstances
Palestinians blamed Israeli troops for the death, and the incident has become a recurring symbol for Palestinians of excessive Israeli force.
The army initially said the gunfire “apparently” came from Israeli positions. But a military investigation subsequently determined it was “quite plausible that the boy was hit by Palestinian bullets in the course of an exchange of fire.”
A military spokeswoman confirmed the Israeli army has asked the French network for its full unedited video material from the shooting. “The IDF is dealing directly with the network on the issue,” the spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity under military guidelines.
Speaking in New York, spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich confirmed the military got involved because of a lawsuit involving French media watchdog Philippe Karsenty, who accused France 2 and its Israel correspondent, Charles Enderlin, of staging the shooting.
“There’s a trial going on in France. That’s why they need our assistance for the original footage,” Leibovich said. “We’ve agreed to assist.”
Enderlin and the TV network have filed a libel suit against Karsenty. A judge ruled in favor of Enderlin last year. But Karsenty appealed, and a ruling in that case is expected this week.
Karsenty could not immediately be reached for comment about the Israeli military’s request.
France 2 has not yet decided whether to release the material to the army. Enderlin declined to discuss the case, saying only that he has “full confidence in the French justice system.”