Wednesday, March 20, 2002

German TV report: Palestinians likely killed Gaza boy

Excerpted from the Jerusalem Post:
A German documentary producer who thoroughly investigated the killing of a Palestinian boy a year-and-a-half ago said yesterday it is "much more likely" 12-year-old Muhammad ad-Dura was killed by Palestinian gunmen, and not by Israeli soldiers.

Dura was shot to death in a Gaza Strip crossfire on September 30, 2000, while crouching for safety with his father. The incident was filmed by the France2 television network, and the pictures had a dramatic impact on the public perception of Israel's use of force, with the IDF widely accused of killing the boy.

The video footage of Dura and his father crouching in an alley as bullets whizzed passed them, and then the bleeding dying boy cradled in his father's arms provoked international outrage when it was broadcast.

In an interview with IBA English News, producer Esther Shapira said the purpose of the series was to "understand the truth behind the pictures we see on television." She said that going into the project initially, "I thought it was clear it was an Israeli who fired the shot since we were talking about a Palestinian boy."

But as she began to delve into the incident, serious doubts were raised as to whether it had been Israeli and not Palestinian gunfire that killed the boy.

She said forensic evidence showed Dura had been shot either from in front or from above, the direction from which the Palestinian gunmen had been firing. For it to have been IDF fire that killed him, the shot would have had to enter from the side.

"According to our findings, it is much more likely it was a Palestinian bullet, not an Israeli bullet, that killed him," Shapira said.

The documentary also did not unequivocally conclude one way or the other, but did ask enough questions to leave the viewer with doubts about the conventional wisdom.

Among the questions raised were who had an interest in killing the boy; whether France2, which filmed the incident, released all the footage in its possession; whether it was possible to hit Dura from where the soldiers were positioned; where are the bullets taken from the boy's body; why did the Palestinians not investigate the incident; and who ordered the footage broadcast continuously on Palestinian television.

Wanna take any bets that this story will be broadcast continuously on Palestinian television as well?


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