When France 2 TV helped stoke a new wave of anti-Semitism and anti-Western sentiment and violence by presenting the world footage it claimed to show the Israeli military targeting and killing a Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Dura, a scene that has been invoked by Osama bin Laden and many other terrorists and suicide bombers, the American news media also ran the story, showing the footage numerous times on major television news shows. But evidence has mounted over the years that Israeli troops likely were not the ones producing the gunfire seen in the video. And the sources of the footage at France 2 TV are under increasing fire for their role in the matter, last week losing a court battle to media critic Philippe Karsenty, who goes so far as to charge that the al-Dura footage was actually a staged scene, and that the boy may still be alive, part of what has become a reportedly common practice of Palestinian film makers as they record scenes of fake violence to be used as propaganda. A look at such filmmaking and acting has been examined in the documentary Pallywood, complete with a corpse in a fake funeral procession that gets up on its own after falling off the stretcher after the "Jenin massacre" hoax, and an ambulance that arrives immediately next to the body of a man literally two seconds after he is supposedly shot. CBS's 60 Minutes was among those accused of being duped into using scenes of staged violence as if they were real. (Transcripts follow)
Professor Richard Landes of Boston University, producer of Pallywood and Pallywood Strikes Again, is among those who have examined footage contained on the original al-Dura video, which France 2 TV long resisted releasing to the public. Even when required by a court, only 18 out of a reported 27 minutes of the footage was released, as can be seen here as part 1 and part 2. (The end of part 2 shows the al-Dura footage.)
Landes's documentary Pallywood shows suspicious scenes purporting to depict the plight of Palestinians -- one notably shows a funeral procession in the aftermath of the "Jenin massacre" hoax in which the corpse appears to be spilled onto the ground and then gets up on its own, frightening mourners in the process who were apparently out of the loop. CBS's 60 Minutes, in a report by correspondent Bob Simon aired on October 24, 2000, is shown to have used scenes that came from the same videotape as the al-Dura shooting, scenes that some charge are staged with participants feigning injury for the camera, including a man who acts as if he has been shot, only to have an ambulance arrive next to him in the scene literally two seconds later, as if the driver were on cue to show up. But as the scenes appeared on 60 Minutes, they were edited so that only the portions that appeared more realistic were used.
On November 28, 2000, after an Israeli army investigation concluded that bullets seen in the video more likely came from Palestinians than Israelis, American newspapers like the New York Times covered the story: "The 12-year-old Palestinian boy shot to death eight weeks ago as he crouched beside his father, in a scene that television broadcasts made well known around the world, might have been killed by Palestinian gunmen, not Israeli soldiers, the Israeli Army said today."
After having reported in October that Israeli troops produced the fatal gunfire, as the Israeli military initially took responsibility and apologized, the American media generally did not show much interest in updating viewers and correcting the record. On November 28, nearly all television news shows ignored the finding. But CBS's Early Show did run a full report on the story. David Hawkins: "The 12-year-old boy whose televised death has come to symbolize Israel's severe reaction to Palestinian violence may not have been killed by an Israeli soldier, the Israeli army now says." The evening news shows were dominated by the presidential election recount in Florida, but all three broadcast networks still made time for a brief story on the scheduling of elections in Israel, without mentioning the al-Dura case.
On the November 12, 2000, 60 Minutes, CBS correspondent Bob Simon mentioned that the Israeli military was planning to investigate the shooting but dismissed the belief of Israeli General Yom-Tov Samia that Israeli troops were not responsible as "predictable." Simon: "But before the soldiers even opened fire [in the simulation], the general and his scientists had reached their conclusions, predictable conclusions: Mohammed al-Dura and his father had not been shot by Israelis." General Samia: "I am very sure that they were shot from the Palestinian side." Simon: "The general may believe that, but it will be a hard sell even to Israelis."
On the March 20, 2002, Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC, Hume reported that "A German TV network, ARD, has aired a documentary casting doubt on the widely-held belief that Israeli gunfire killed the boy. ARD raised questions about, among other things, whether it was even possible for him to be hit from the Israeli position. Of why the bullets in the boy's body have seemingly disappeared, and why Palestinians never investigated the incident."
On the May 20, 2003, Lester Holt Live, MSNBC's Holt interviewed James Fallows of the Atlantic Monthly about his article on the subject: "The Arab world blamed Israeli soldiers for the Palestinian boy's death. And al-Dura became the symbol of a Palestinian struggle against Israel. But what if Mohammed al-Dura was instead killed by a bullet fired from a Palestinian gun? James Fallows raises this very question in his article in this month's Atlantic Monthly magazine."
A Nexis search reveals no apparent evidence that ABC or NBC ever reported on the Israeli military's conclusion that it was likely not responsible for the fatal gunfire. The networks have ignored the general practice of propaganda film making by Palestinians cameramen. Other examples of hoaxes using photographs can be seen here.
While it may be partially understandable that the media would want to wait until the court process runs its entire course before reporting the possibility that the al-Dura shooting was itself a hoax, especially since the Israeli government has been reluctant to join in this aspect of the dispute, the media should at least have reported that the Israeli military disputes the charge of its culpability. Plus, there should be some interest in the general issue of Palestinians staging events to use for propaganda, especially since some apparently staged footage made it onto such shows as 60 Minutes.
Below are examples of transcripts from evening, morning and primetime news showing that the al-Dura affair was covered numerous times, while most news programs at some point reported that Israeli troops were responsible for the shooting, and also relayed to viewers that a substantial amount of violence was inspired after the al-Dura shooting. There are also a few stories which report on the possibility that Palestinians may have been responsible for the shooting:
On the September 30, 2000, CBS Evening News, David Hawkins reported al-Dura as being caught in a crossfire between Israeli troops and Palestinians: "Thousands of stone throwers clashed with Israeli troops all across the West Bank. And there were firefights between soldiers and Palestinian gunmen in Nablus and in Gaza. In Gaza, a father and son caught in the cross fire. -- this 12-year-old boy, one of at least a dozen Palestinians killed in today's fighting."
On the September 30, 2000, NBC Nightly News, anchor John Seigenthaler hinted that al-Dura was killed by Israeli troops when they "opened fire": "On Rosh Hashanah, a religious holy day marking the Jewish new year, a bloody confrontation erupted in the West Bank and Gaza strip. Israeli troops opened fire today on Palestinian rioters, killing 12 people, including a 12-year-old boy caught in the crossfire, 500 others wounded. New violence which threatens to derail the peace process."
Correspondent Tom Aspell merely described al-Dura as being "caught in the crossfire" without implying which side was responsible: "There hasn't been violence like this in four years. On the third straight day of clashes, Palestinians brought out their guns. In the Gaza strip, firefights near Israeli army outposts guarding isolated Jewish settlements. A Palestinian man caught in the crossfire tries to protect his 12-year-old son. Chaos all around them but both are shot. The father is badly wounded and the boy is killed."
ABC's World News Tonight Saturday did not air on September 30, 2000.
On the October 1, 2000, World News Tonight Sunday, ABC correspondent Gillian Findlay blamed the al-Dura shooting on Israeli gunfire: "Four days of fighting, dozens of new martyred and an image that will haunt everyone in this conflict for years to come. It happened yesterday in Gaza, a man and his injured son trapped under Israeli fire. The boy is terrified. 'My son is dying,' the man yells. And then the shots come in lower. Twelve-year-old Mohammed Jamal al-Dura was buried at Palestinian hill last night, his father remains in hospital in serious condition."
At the end of the same October 1 show, ABC anchor Carole Simpson aired comments from the Palestinian cameraman, Talal Abu Rahmeh, who described his version of events.
On the October 1, 2000, CBS Sunday Morning, David Hawkins slanted the story in favor of criticisms by Palestinians of "excessive force" by Israelis: "But 18 Palestinians have been killed, including a young boy caught in the crossfire during a firefight in Gaza. Mohammed al-Dura was laid to rest yesterday amidst an outpouring of grief. He was 12 years old. In four days of fighting, more than 700 Palestinians and about a dozen Israelis have been wounded."
On the October 1, 2000, CBS Evening News, Hawkins reported: "The lopsided casualty figures, proof, the Palestinians say, that Israel is using excessive force against protesters and innocent bystanders. Among the victims, 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura, who, despite his father's desperate pleas for a cease-fire, was killed in a crossfire yesterday during a gun battle in Gaza. His funeral was one of many that drew angry crowds, adding fuel to the fire."
On the October 1, 2000, Sunday Today, Tom Aspell reported: "Among the dead after three days of rioting, 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura. Thousands of Palestinians marched at his funeral in Gaza last night. The boy's death in the arms of his father caught in a crossfire. His father trying to protect his son, who in the chaos is hit by a bullet in the stomach. It has galvanized Palestinians, who have been battling Israeli soldiers for three days in Gaza, in Jerusalem, and all over the West Bank. Palestinian officials blame Israel for using excessive force."
On the October 1, 2000, NBC Nightly News, Aspell reported: "Palestinians have been enraged by the death of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura. Thousands attended his funeral after television pictures yesterday showed the boy's father trying to protect him from gunfire, but in the chaos, the boy was killed by a bullet in the stomach. His father, badly wounded."
On the October 2, 2000, World News Now, anchor Liz Cho reported: "People on both sides have died. Thousands of mourners joined the funeral procession of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy killed in the cross fire of a gun battle. His death has caused widespread outrage. Rioters ignored a cease-fire declared last night and continued their rock throwing and gun fire." And correspondent Gillian Findlay again described al-Dura and his father as being "trapped under Israeli fire."
On the October 2, 2000, World News Tonight, ABC's Peter Jennings reported that the al-Dura shooting "exacerbated" the violence which started "when the leader of the Israeli opposition made a provocative visit to the holiest site in Jerusalem." Jennings: "We begin however with the vicious politics of the Middle East. More than a dozen people were killed by the Israeli army or the police today, some of them Palestinians and many Israeli Arabs who've lived within Israel for at least 30 years. This violence got started on Thursday when the leader of the Israeli opposition made a provocative visit to the holiest site in Jerusalem, coveted by Jews and Muslims. Exacerbated yesterday by this. A Palestinian father and his son shot as they cringed in fear with the fighting all around them. The boy is dead. It's been seen on television by everyone there. Today an Israeli settler and a policeman were killed. President Clinton said it had to stop."
Possibly with the intent to scold Israeli media for not showing the al-Dura shooting on television enough, Gillian Findlay relayed that "It has appeared on Israel's most popular TV station exactly twice." Findlay: "It is true many Palestinians are armed with more than rocks. The Palestinians say the casualty figures speak for themselves. In a statement today Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, called on Israel to stop shooting our soldiers, our old people, our children. That video of 12-year-old Mohammed plays on Palestinian television nonstop. It has appeared on Israel's most popular TV station exactly twice. What has alarmed many Israelis is that the violence has now come to Israel itself. Israeli Arabs, 20 percent of the population, have also taken to the streets. Today seven of them were killed. Israelis fighting Israelis. For many people here, the worst news on a very bad day."
On the October 2, 2000, CBS Evening News, David Hawkins reported on Palestinian complaints of "excessive force" by Israelis:
DAVID HAWKINS: "Despite calls for a cease-fire from the leaders of both sides, 13 more people died in today's fighting -- 11 Arabs and two Jews -- more than 40 dead and about 1,000 hurt, almost all the victims Arabs – proof, the Palestinians say, that Israel is using excessive force. These horrifying pictures, taken by a crew working for French TV: A man tries in vain to protect his son. Twelve-year-old Mohammed al-Dura died in his father's arms -- his father, Jamal, seriously wounded, the boy now a symbol to angry Palestinians and a watching world.
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I mean, I was watching it as if it were someone I knew, you know? And it was a heartbreaking thing to see a child like that caught in a crossfire.
HAWKINS: Israel's soldiers are showing the utmost restraint, says Prime Minister Ehud Barak. He accused Yasser Arafat of instigating the violence to improve his bargaining position in peace talks.
EHUD BARAK, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We are sorry for casualties and loss of life to both sides of this conflict, but it's clear to us that the responsibility for the events lies with the Palestinian Authority.
HAWKINS: Palestinians say the Israelis started it, that riots were touched off by a provocative visit last week to a Muslim holy site in Jerusalem by Ariel Sharon, a right-wing politician reviled by many Arabs. Only Israel, says Yasser Arafat, can stop the escalation of bloodshed.
On the October 2, 2000, CNN Morning News, ITN reporter Kevin Dunn blamed the al-Dura shooting on Israeli troops: "But for a fifth day, clashes erupted in the West Bank and on the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians attacked an Israeli army outpost. The violence, sparked off by a provocative visit by right-wing Israeli politicians to a Muslim holy site, is now the worst for at least five years. It was summed up by the fatal shooting by Israeli soldiers at the weekend of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura as he cowered with his father. Israel says the boy was caught unintentionally in crossfire. His funeral only one of many as the death toll rises. World leaders fear the violence will set back the fragile progress towards a peace settlement."
On the October 2, 2000, Today, NBC's Ann Curry reported: "The fighting was ignited Thursday when Israeli hard-liner Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a contested area that is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Clashes then spread throughout the West Bank and then to the Gaza Strip, where a 12-year-old boy caught in the crossfire was killed, as his father tried to shield him."
The October 2, 2000, NBC Nightly News ran a full report on the story, anchored by Tom Brokaw: "There is so much violence and, so many areas in Israel, it is difficult to sort out one image from another with that one heart-breaking exception. Fair warning, this is a graphic example of the violence. A young Palestinian victim, the picture of innocence and helplessness. Here's NBC's Andrea Mitchell."
ANDREA MITCHELL: A powerful image broadcast on Palestinian television, Israeli television and around the world. The face of a child in terror, a father helpless to protect him. A mother now in mourning points to the picture of her son's death. She says, "What a tragedy for us. Look for yourself." And the world is looking.
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I kept wondering if there was something else that the father could do to shield the child.
MITCHELL: The 12-year-old boy, Mohammed al-Dura, and his father trapped in a storm of gunfire. A television cameraman, 15 yards away, unable to save them.
TALAL ABU RAHMEH, PALESTINIAN CAMERAMAN FOR FRANCE 2 TV: It was raining from the bullets, just bullets all over.
MITCHELL: The child is hit in the leg. The father calls for help. For almost an hour the child bleeds. The father screams. Then the fifth hail of bullets.
REHMEH: I scream in the tape, as you hear me, "The boy is dead. The boy is dead."
MITCHELL: Most observers believe the image will incite more violence, at least in the short term.
LEE HAMILTON, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: This little boy certainly will become a martyr for the Palestinians, and they will remind the world again and again of his unnecessary death.
PROFESSOR MAMOUN FANDY, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: This is a make-or-break picture. Either it makes people extremely sensitive to the need for a conclusion of the peace process right now, or it could contribute to tremendous violence in the region.
MITCHELL: Tonight with the violence growing, U.S. officials still hope this powerful image could force all sides to take stock, halt the cycle of violence, rethink their negotiating positions.
CLINTON: When the smoke clears here, it might actually be a spur to both sides, as a sober reminder to what the alternative to peace could be.
MITCHELL: But experts see little chance that the smoke will clear any time soon, leaving only the senseless death of a 12-year-old child. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington.
Also on the October 2 NBC Nightly News, Martin Fletcher reported: "Inevitably, the innocent are killed. In these pictures that stunned the world, a Palestinian father shields his 12-year-old boy in vain. He was shot dead, the father wounded. The head of Israel's right-wing opposition sparked the fighting when last week he set foot in a Muslim shrine in Jerusalem, a holy site that Jews claim is also theirs. Palestinians, already frustrated by lack of progress in the peace process, reacted with fury." Fletcher later added: "As the fighting gets worse, Israel is ready to use heavy weapons, helicopter gunships, tanks and armored carriers deployed around Palestinian towns. An already brutal confrontation dangerously close to spinning out of control."
Fletcher's report also ran on the same night's News with Brian Williams on MSNBC.
On the October 3, 2000, The Early Show on CBS, Jane Clayson interviewed Ariel Sharon, and asked him did he "take any responsibility for what happened to that child?"
Clayson asked the below questions of Sharon as she blamed him for the violence:
A lot of people say that you are responsible for the violence in Israel over the past few days. Do you take responsibility?
But didn't you anticipate that the violence would break out when you went to the Temple Mount?
Anyone can go anywhere, but you went there, but you went there with armed guards, and you must have known that this would instigate some sort of a conflict.
Mr. Sharon, explain what you mean by Mr. Arafat being responsible for this.
Let me ask you about one of the most disturbing and provocative images from the violence so far. It came this weekend. It's a picture of that 12-year-old little boy who was caught in the crossfire, who eventually died in his father's arms. Do you take any responsibility for what happened to that child?
On the October 3, 2000, World News Tonight, Peter Jennings relayed calls by the mother of Mohammed al-Dura that President Clinton should "stop the Israelis from doing what they're doing." Jennings: "It was supposed to be a cease-fire today between Israelis and the Palestinians, but passions are clearly too inflamed. For example, in Palestinian Gaza, many walls are covered with pictures of the boy who was shot on Saturday for everyone to see. His mother said that if President Clinton is moved by the death of her son, he should stop the Israelis from doing what they're doing."
On the October 3, 2000, CBS Evening News, Dan Rather reported: "More than 50 have died since last Friday, including a young Palestinian boy whose death was caught on video, and whose wounded father called for vengeance today from his hospital bed. It's a level of rage not seen in the region in years."
On the October 4, 2000, Nightline, Gillian Findlay relayed the anger over the al-Dura shooting, and that Palestinians see Ariel Sharon as "the devil." Findlay: "The question now is after so much Palestinian blood has been spilled, can Mr. Arafat stop the violence? If there is one thing that will sustain Palestinian anger, it is that image of Mohammed al-Dura, the 12-year-old boy trapped under Israeli fire. Palestinians say in the last week that God has revealed to them both an angel and a devil. The angel, they say, is little Mohammed. The devil, Ariel Sharon."
Host Ted Koppel later interviewed Sharon, blaming him for inciting the violence: "And joining us now live from his farm in the Negev Desert in Israel, Ariel Sharon, the chairman of the Likud party and the man whom the Palestinians are still calling a devil."
On the October 4, 2000, Special Report with Brit Hume, correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported:
JENNIFER GRIFFIN: Perhaps the most famous victim in this latest round of fighting is Mohammed al-Dura, the 12-year-old boy killed by Israeli gunfire now immortalized on the streets of Gaza. His mother learned about his death on television. She watched as her husband and son were caught by mistake in a war zone.
ALMA AL-DURA, MOTHER, THROUGH TRANSLATOR: The Israelis are heartless. They shot him once and didn't stop shooting until he was dead. Don't the Israeli soldiers have children of their own?
GRIFFIN: Mohammed's death galvanized public opinion as it was broadcast all over the world. It is the image that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat took with him to Paris when he met U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to discuss ending the violence. His father still lies in a hospital bed in Jordan. These are the streets where Mohammed al-Dura and his friends used to play. At the refugee camp where he lived, the 12-year-old boy has become a martyr, a symbol of the war for Jerusalem. Thousands of angry Palestinians attended his funeral, vowing to continue to fight Israel until they avenge the boy's death.
On the October 9, 2000, CBS Morning News, David Hawkins reported that "on the border with Lebanon, three Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah guerrillas -- revenge, the guerrillas say, for the murder of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy during last week's clashes."
On the October 10, 2000, CBS Morning News, David Martin called the violence "the worst Middle East crisis since the Persian Gulf War 10 years ago. ... Arabs from Morocco to Jordan are venting their rage against Israel and its chief backer, the United States."
Martin also relayed that Saddam Hussein "already has named a school after that 12-year-old Palestinian boy caught in a crossfire that now threatens to have consequences far beyond the tragic death of an innocent child."
On the October 13, 2000, Nightline, titled "Snapshots of a Conflict," ABC's Ted Koppel looked at the images both of the al-Dura shooting and the beating death of two Israeli reservists by a Palestinian mob and discussed the effects such images have on feelings of anger that Palestinians and Israelis feel toward each other.
On the October 24, 2000, 60 Minutes II, correspondent Bob Simon reported on the effect of the al-Dura shooting image on the Arab world: "When 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers as he lay cradled in his father's arms, the entire world was appalled. And before you could say Intifada, posters of the newest Palestinian martyr went up in every Arab nation. On the poster, three little words: 'to be continued.' Fighting this part of the world has continued now for half a century, and when you go to the West Bank, as we did this week, you find that many of the combatants are not much older than Mohammed al-Dura."
Simon then showed footage of apparent battle scenes which have been criticized by some as examples of Palestinian film makers staging fake battle scenes. Video of this criticism can be seen in Pallywood.
On the October 25, 2000, CBS Evening News, Dan Rather ran a full story on the al-Dura shooting: "U.S. security officials brought Palestinian and Israeli troop commanders together in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip today in a first step toward another try at a cease-fire. There was more sporadic rock-throwing and gunfire today, though for the first time in weeks no deaths were reported. Israelis are still outraged by the murder of two of their soldiers at a Palestinian police station, and Palestinian rage is still fueled by one tragic death in particular."
In his report, David Hawkins reported that the Israeli military had just picked up a copy of the videotape to investigate. He also included a clip of the Palestinian camerman with France 2 TV claiming that the al-Duras "were the target for the shooting" after Palestinian gunmen had fled.
DAVID HAWKINS: There's no question it was chaos that day. The Israeli post at Netzarim Junction, a crossroads in the Gaza Strip, was under siege by stone-throwing teenagers. Jamal al-Dura and his 12-year-old son, Mohammed, were dropped off in the middle of all this by a taxi driver who refused to drive through the melee. There's no evidence that either of them ever picked up a rock. When Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen exchanged fire, the al-Duras took cover behind a concrete block along a wall on the southeast corner of the crossroads. According to the Israeli military's description of the scene, the Palestinians were firing from positions about 30 yards to either side of the al-Duras. The cameraman who took the shot seen round the world was across the street.
TALAL ABU RAHMEH, PALESTINIAN CAMERMAN WORKING FOR FRANCE 2 TV: Then I was filming this way. I'm panning my camera. I saw the boy and the father right here.
HAWKINS: Talal Abu Rahmeh says the firefight was over in five minutes. Outgunned and out of ammunition, the Palestinian gunmen ran away. The Israelis, he says, kept firing for 45 minutes more at anything and anyone that moved.
RAHMEH: The boy was injured. He was scared, even the boy, it was clear for whoever behind me, there is a boy and the man needs help.
HAWKINS: The Israeli military refused our requests for an interview. They did, however, give us this statement: "It was not possible to identify the source of fire. Therefore, it is impossible to determine who injured the boy and his father." Jamal and Mohammed al-Dura, the statement says, found themselves in the line of fire.
RAHMEH: In the beginning, they're caught in the crossfire. But after 10 minutes, they were the target for the shooting. I could tell you that. I'm a journalist. I'm not biased. Maybe they think I am a Palestinian, but I am a journalist before anything. It's a human life. We're talking about the children. A child got killed here.
HAWKINS: Mohammed al-Dura died of stomach wounds. According to the doctor who pronounced him dead, those wounds were caused by a large-caliber, high-velocity machine gun, a weapon only the Israelis were firing that day. If ballistic tests were done, the results have not been released. The Israelis have torn down the wall where Mohammed al-Dura was killed, any evidence destroyed. The best remaining evidence, though, may be the videotape. Israel's military investigators picked up a copy just a few days ago, almost three weeks after the incident. On assignment in Gaza, I'm David Hawkins.
On October 26, 2000, ABC's Primetime Thursday showed Diane Sawyer talking to Jamal al-Dura and his wife at a hospital in Amman, Jordan.
On the November 12, 2000, 60 Minutes, Bob Simon reported that the Israeli military was starting an investigation of the al-Dura case. After explaining that the scene of the shooting had to be reconstructed, Simon dismissed the credibility of the Israeli team, calling their beliefs "predictable." Simon: "But before the soldiers even opened fire [in their simulation], the general and his scientists had reached their conclusions, predictable conclusions: Mohammed al-Dura and his father had not been shot by Israelis." General Yom-Tov Samia: "I am very sure that they were shot from the Palestinian side." Simon: "The general may believe that, but it will be a hard sell even to Israelis."
On November 28, 2000, a number of major newspapers reported that, after the investigation, the Israeli army was backing off its initial acceptance of responsibility. William Orme of the New York Times reported: "Today the army did not rule out the possibility that one of its soldiers had killed the boy. But General Samia said the army had ‘great doubt' that it was responsible and believed that the evidence indicated ‘a very reasonable possibility' that the boy ‘was hit by Palestinian gunfire.'"
The Times article also reported: "Local and regional television networks have broadcast the scene hundreds of times. Arab poets and songwriters have composed dozens of tributes to the boy's memory. The boy's wounded father, giving interviews from his hospital bed in Amman, Jordan, became a regional celebrity. In one pointed gesture, the avenue in Cairo where the Israeli Embassy is situated was renamed Muhammad al-Durrah Street."
The Boston Globe reported: "Nearly two months after taking responsibility for the shooting death of a Palestinian boy in a Gaza Strip crossfire, the Israeli Army said yesterday that an internal investigation had concluded that 12-year-old Mohammed Dura was more probably killed by shots from Palestinian police." The article also contended that "A videotape of the killing, shot by French 2 Television, helped escalate the conflict into an unparalleled wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence."
On the November 28, 2000, CBS Morning News, Julie Chen reported: "The Israeli army now blames Palestinians for the videotaped death of a Palestinian boy caught with his father in a crossfire. The 12-year-old cowered with his father caught between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli forces. Israel now says it's highly plausible Palestinians fired the deadly shots, not the Israelis."
On the November 28, 2000, The Early Show, a full report ran:
JULIE CHEN: You may remember the pictures of a Palestinian boy shot to death while crouching beside his father. The Israelis now say they may not be to blame. David Hawkins reports.
DAVID HAWKINS: The 12-year-old boy whose televised death has come to symbolize Israel's severe reaction to Palestinian violence may not have been killed by an Israeli soldier, the Israeli army now says. The general in command of Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip where the shooting took place nearly two months ago says an army investigation into the incident cast serious doubt that Mohammed al-Dura and his father, Jamal, were hit by Israeli fire.
MAJOR GENERAL YOM-TOV SAMIA, ISRAELI ARMY: That there is quite possibility that the boy was hit by a Palestinian bullet in the course of the exchange of fire that took place in the area.
HAWKINS: But the cameraman who took the now famous picture says Palestinian gunmen had stopped shooting and run away at least 10 minutes before Mohammed al-Dura was killed.
TALAL ABU RAHMEH, PALESTINIAN CAMERMAN FOR FRANCE 2 TV: Look, the fire, it was from both sides maybe the first three minutes. Then, after that, all of the shooting was coming from behind.
HAWKINS: Investigators working for the army based their conclusions on tests performed at a reconstruction of the scene because Israeli forces destroyed most of the evidence shortly after the shooting. Dozens of Palestinian youths have been shot and killed by Israeli soldiers during the conflict, but the general said only the death of Mohammed al-Dura has been investigated. David Hawkins, CBS News, Tel Aviv.
On the November 28, 2000, CNBC Early Today, Jennifer Lewis-Hall reported: "Israelis and Palestinians exchanged gunfire today, even as Muslims marked the start of the holy month of Ramadan. Meantime, the Israeli army now says a 12-year-old boy killed in the crossfire last month was shot by Palestinian, not Israeli gunfire. The image of the frightened boy and his father caught in a firefight galvanized world attention on the Israeli response to Palestinian protests."
On the May 8, 2001, NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw relayed that Ariel Sharon "accused Palestinians of deliberately putting their children in the line of fire."And in his reported Martin Fletcher informed viewers that actors on Palestinian television were portraying al-Dura's death "in a hail of Israeli bullets," without pointing out that the bullets may have been Palestinian.
MARTIN FLETCHER: But now the Palestinians are calling on the youngest to join the battle, and using a stunning tactic, commercials on Palestinian TV asking children, "Drop your toys. Pick up rocks." Even using actors to recreate the most famous image of the uprising, one that shocked the world: 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura dying in his father's arms, caught in a hail of Israeli bullets. The commercial shows Mohammed in paradise, urging other children to, quote, "Follow him."
JAMAL AL-DURA, THROUGH TRANSLATOR: I was trying to protect my son.
FLETCHER: His father, Jamal, was shot eight times, barely survived. Now undergoing surgery in Jordan, NBC News showed him the commercial which he saw for the very first time. 'It breaks my heart,' he said. He believes in peace, but does not believe it's possible now with this Israeli government. There's no escape from the war for children here. At his son Mohammed's school in Gaza today, the daily prayer and a call to arms. "Are you afraid?" he shouts. "No," they answer. And then, "We ask Allah to destroy the Jews." More than half the population of Gaza are children under the age of 15. And if you ask any of the boys here what they want to do, they'll answer the same thing: "Fight the Israelis." Mohammed's desk is now a shrine. The teacher asks, "Where is Mohammed?" "Paradise." And in English class, they learned a new phrase today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE TEACHER: The Israeli army killed our friend. Shame on them!
CHILDREN: Shame on them!
FLETCHER: Already, young boys are learning how to fight. Summer camp teaches how to resist the Israelis. But now they are being taught not to fear death. The greatest glory, they are told, is to be a martyr. Martin Fletcher, NBC News, Gaza.
On the March 20, 2002, Special Report with Brit Hume, FNC's Hume reported: "Remember that 12-year-old Palestinian boy who was shot to death in a crossfire two days after the current uprising in the occupied territories began two years ago? His name was Mohammed al-Dura, and he has become the symbol for many people of Israeli Defense Force brutality in the crackdown against terrorist attacks. A German TV network, ARD, has aired a documentary casting doubt on the widely-held belief that Israeli gunfire killed the boy. ARD raised questions about, among other things, whether it was even possible for him to be hit from the Israeli position, of why the bullets in the boy's body have seemingly disappeared, and why Palestinians never investigated the incident."
On the May 20, 2003, on Lester Holt Live, MSNBC's Lester Holt picked up on an article by the The Atlantic Monthly's James Fallows which raised the possibility al-Dura was shot by Palestinian guns. Holt: "In a conflict marked by horrific images of violence, the death of 12-year-old boy Mohammed al-Dura in September of 2000 shocked the world. The boy died in his father's arms during a firefight between Israeli defense forces and Palestinian militants. The Arab world blamed Israeli soldiers for the Palestinian boy's death. And al-Dura became the symbol of a Palestinian struggle against Israel. But what if Mohammed al-Dura was instead killed by a bullet fired from a Palestinian gun? James Fallows raises this very question in his article in this month's Atlantic Monthly magazine and joins us from Washington to talk more about the story.