It was eight years ago this week that France 2 TV introduced the world to Mohammed al-Dura, the Palestinian boy who was allegedly shot and killed during a gunfight between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen, in a video whose authenticity has increasingly been called into question years after it inspired anti-Semitic violence around the world. The American news media not only highlighted the story -- as the ABC, CBS and NBC evening and morning newscasts collectively aired the video at least 28 times between September 30, 2000, and June 30, 2003 -- but the networks also showed other clips depicting Palestinians involved in fighting, supposedly with Israelis, that have been challenged by some media analysts, calling into question how many of the scenes shown by American media during times of Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be faked video that were passed off to international media as genuine. ABC's Good Morning American notably seems to have ignored the al-Dura story.
Boston University Professor Richard Landes has been a leader in delving into the practice by some Palestinian cameramen of staging scenes of violence to be used as propaganda against Israel. Landes notably took on CBS’s 60 Minutes in the film Pallywood, the first in a series of short documentaries produced by the Boston University professor. On his Web site, theaugeanstables.com, Landes recounts his unsuccessful attempts to convince the American news media to help expose the Pallywood hoax video phenomenon. While he recounts that American journalists he spoke with did generally agree with him that the deceptive practice likely exists, they were reluctant to be perceived as breaking neutrality by siding with Israel over the Palestinians, as he encountered a view that it would not be “even-handed” to relay such unflattering activities by one side without finding similar examples from the other side. Professor Landes also cited an unnamed journalist at ABC as contending that there would be little “appetite” for the subject at his network. On his Web site, theaugeanstables.com, Landes recalls these conversations:
RICHARD LANDES, FROM HIS WEB SITE: As one journalist at ABC put it, “I’m convinced by your argument about Pallywood, but I don’t know how much appetite there is for this kind of thing here.” At the time, I didn’t realize fully how intimidated our MSM are. Or, as another put it, making allusions to the omnipresent commitment to “even-handedness,” “if we did something on this, we could not do it on this alone. ... We’d have to do something on what the Israelis do to manipulate images."
LANDES, QUOTING HIS RESPONSE: "And if you don't have anything remotely resembliing this degree of dishonesty?"
LANDES QUOTING THE UNNAMED JOURNALIST: "Then we won't do anything."
LANDES: And they didn't.
The media also gave little attention to an investigation by the Israeli Defense Forces that concluded in November 2000 that the gunfire seen hitting the wall near the al-Dura’s in the video most likely came from Palestinian gunmen, challenging France 2 TV’s claim that Israeli troops had deliberately shot the boy. And, earlier this year, a French court ruled against France 2 TV, bolstering the credibility of French media critic Philippe Karsenty, who went so far as to charge that the al-Dura footage was a hoax and that the boy was not really injured.
Regarding the importance of the al-Dura case, Landes writes: “But this image goes beyond blood libel and anti-Semitism, beyond blackening Israel’s image and whitewashing Palestinian violence. Al Durah became the icon not only of the Intifada, but of global jihad. Within months of the incident, bin Laden came out with a recruiting video that featured extensive Pallywood footage and highlighted Al Durah. Months later, Pakistani jihadis killed Daniel Pearl, interweaving Al Durah’s image into their tape of the execution.”
The below transcripts not only document how the American television news media reported on the Mohammed al-Dura story over the years, but it also indicates when some portion of the infamous al-Dura footage was aired, but also when clips from two other scenes of questionable authenticity, detailed in the film Pallywood, were aired.
In the documentaries Pallywood and Pallywood Strikes Again II: France 2 vs. the Evidence, Landes analyzes one scene depicting a Palestinian man standing next to a jeep who appears to be shot and falls to the ground just seconds before an ambulance arrives near him, as if the emergency vehicle were on cue. The alleged shooting victim is then dragged to the ambulance. All the broadcast networks showed some portion of this scene at least once, but without the portion that clearly shows the immediate arrival of the ambulance. Because France 2 TV supplied the footage, it is possible that the portion containing the suspicious arrival of the ambulance had already been edited out before the clips were received by the American networks.
A second scene depicts a Palestinian man firing a rifle through an opening in a wall, presumably fighting with Israeli troops. But because there were multiple cameramen who were filming in this area, Landes was able to view another recording which shows earlier scenes of the same man with other Palestinians seeming to rehearse for the scene, which also shows that the opening in the wall that the man was firing his weapon into actually led to an empty room.
All of Landes’s films on the subject of Pallywood can be found here.
Landes recounts some of the holes in the al-Dura story, and challenges the credibility of the Palestinian cameraman who filmed the al-Dura footage, Talal Abu Rahmeh, who was featured in some of the stories on American television news shows giving his account of events. Landes shows one scene in which Rahmeh is asked about the recovery of the bullets from the al-Dura shooting scene. After claiming at first that France 2 TV had collected the bullets, apparently realizing this story was implausible since bullet collection should be the role of the authorities, he then backs off this assertion and evades answering the question claiming that “we have some secrets, you know, for ourselves. We cannot give everything”:
TALAL ABU RAHMEH: We have evidence, the kind of the bullet, I film it, the kind of the bullet, we pick up, the bullets from the wall. France 2 collected. [STARTS SMILING]
ESTHER SCHAPIRA: So you are doing a better investigation job than the police?
RAHMEH: No, no, no, no, we have some secrets, you know, for ourselves. We cannot give anything, everything.
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 they were likely not responsible for the gunfire seen in the video.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 a number of American news shows such as 60 Minutes.
Below are examples of transcripts from evening, morning and primetime news programs showing that the al-Dura affair was covered numerous times, with most news programs at some point reporting that Israeli troops were responsible for the shooting, and also relaying to viewers that a substantial amount of violence was inspired after the al-Dura shooting. There are also a few stories listed below which report on the possibility that Palestinians may have been responsible for the shooting:
On the September 30, 2000, CBS Evening News, David Hawkins described 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":
JOHN SEIGENTHALER, IN OPENING TEASER: The worst violence in years in the Middle East. A bloody confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians. [SHOWS BRIEF CLIP OF AL-DURA'S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE] A child killed in the crossfire. Tensions increasing.
SEIGENTHALER: Good evening, everyone. 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. NBC's Tom Aspell reports from Tel Aviv.
Correspondent Tom Aspell merely described al-Dura as being "caught in the crossfire" without implying which side was responsible:
TOM ASPELL: 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, [SHOWS CLIP FROM PALLYWOOD OF PALESTINIAN MAN NEXT TO JEEP APPEARING TO BE SHOT, BUT NOT THE AMBULANCE SHOWING UP] firefights near Israeli army outposts guarding isolated Jewish settlements. [SHOWS THE CLIP OF THE AL-DURA'S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE, THEN THE BOY IS LYING AS IF HE'S BEEN SHOT] 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 September 30, 2000, CNN World View, correspondent Mike Hanna's story on the Middle East violence did not mention al-Dura, but used footage from Pallywood of the man next to the jeep being dragged across the pavement, but the scene of him appearing to be shot or of the ambulance arriving are not shown.
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 martyrs 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 a Palestinian hero last night. His father remains in hospital in serious condition."
More of World News Tonight Saturday’s October 1 coverage:
[DURING OPENING TEASER, PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE AL-DURA FOOTAGE ARE SHOWN, AND A BRIEF CLIP OF JAMAL AL-DURA WAVING WHILE HIDING FROM GUNFIRE]:
CAROL SIMPSON, IN OPENING TEASER: And the image that will not soon fade: The man who captured it tells the story behind it.
[IN GILLIAN FINDLAY'S REPORT, SHE SHOWS THE CLIP FROM PALLYWOOD OF THE MAN FIRING HIS GUN INTO A HOLE IN A WALL. SHE ALSO SHOWS THE CLIP OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AND APPEARING TO BE SHOT. THEN A CLIP OF A FUNERAL PROCESSION CARRYING A BOY’S BODY IS SHOWN.]
BEFORE THE FIRST COMMERCIAL BREAK, THE AL-DURA CLIP IS SHOWN AGAIN, AND SIMPSON SAYS: And an enduring image of the latest Mideast fighting: An interview with the cameraman who captured it.
BEFORE THE FINAL COMMERCIAL BREAK, A BRIEF CLIP OF THE AL-DURA'S IS SHOWN AGAIN, SIMPSON SAYS: When we return, recording the horrors of the Mideast fighting.
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:
CAROLE SIMPSON: Finally tonight, a disturbing image of loss, a father and child in a moment of terror. The Palestinian cameraman who recorded it is 45-year-old Talal Abu Rahmeh who works in Gaza for France 2 TV. In tonight's "Reporter's Notebook," he recalls the moment. Again, we warn you that what follows is difficult to watch.
[THE AL-DURA SEQUENCE IS DIVIDED INTO CLIPS AS RAHMEH TELLS THE STORY]
TALAL ABU RAHMEH: The shooting, it start, became like rain, unbelievable. Never, ever, I saw shooting like this. I looked at the wall, I find there the boy and the father, (SOUNDS LIKE HE SAYS "beside the biggest storm"), the bullet came to the boy leg. He got injured in his, in his leg. And after that the shooting start coming faster and faster and faster with them. And the father was moving his hand and trying to get some help. He looked at me, and, "Help." I said, "I can't." He was squeezing the boy to his side, you know, to try to protect him. In that minute right, he was squeezing the boy, the father got bullet in his arm. I saw something, "boom." It just big, big dust. I look in my frame, I find out the boy is being laying down and his father left and the father got more bullet and he was going like this. (MOVES HIS UPPER BODY IN A CIRCLE IMITATING JAMAL AL-DURA) That minute I was screaming on the camera, "The boy is dead, the boy is dead." Well, I hope this picture I filmed yesterday to be, and from the Palestinian and the Israeli initiation, when they initiate because a lot of civilians did die for nothing. I want them to understand one of these days, the Israeli and the Palestinian negotiator, maybe one day their own sons will be in the same position.
SIMPSON: And that's our report. I'm Carole Simpson. For all of us here at ABC News, have a good week and good night.
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."
[REPORT SHOWED THE CLIP OF THE AL-DURA'S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AND THEN APPEARING TO HAVE BEEN SHOT, FOLLOWED BY A BRIEF CLIP OF THE FUNERAL PROCESSION BUT WITHOUT SHOWING THE BOY'S BODY. REPORT ALSO SHOWED THE CLIP OF THE MAN NEXT TO THE JEEP APPEARING TO BE SHOT, AND THE AMBULANCE CAN JUST BARELY BE SEEN ARRIVING ALONG THE FAR RIGHT EDGE OF THE SCREEN]
The October 1, 2000, CBS Evening News led with the story. David Hawkins reported: "In four days of clashes, 29 Palestinians killed, more than 700 injured. About a dozen Israeli soldiers are reported wounded, one dead. The lopsided casualty figures, proof, the Palestinians say, that Israel is using excessive force against protesters and innocent bystanders. [STARTS SHOWING THE FOOTAGE OF THE AL-DURA'S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AND SEEMING TO BE SHOT, FOLLOWED BY A BRIEF CLIP FROM A FUNERAL PROCESSION] 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."
[THE HAWKINS REPORT ALSO SHOWED THE CLIP FROM PALLYWOOD OF THE MAN FIRING INTO AN OPENING IN A WALL]
On the October 1, 2000, Sunday Today:
TOM ASPELL: Among the dead after three days of rioting, [SHOWS CLIP OF BOY'S BODY IN FUNERAL PROCESSION] 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura. Thousands of Palestinians marched at his funeral in Gaza last night. [SHOWS CLIP OF AL-DURA'S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AND APPEARING TO BE SHOT] 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.
ABU ALLAH, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: They held all the responsible about what's happening. They killed the Palestinians. They killed them.
ASPELL: Israel says an appeal from Yasser Arafat would stop the violence. But Palestinian casualties are mounting, and the rioting has now taken on a momentum of its own. The Palestinians have guns now. They're shooting at Israeli soldiers in the worst violence here in four years. [SHOWS THE CLIP FROM PALLYWOOD OF THE PALESTINIAN MAN WHO APPEARS TO BE SHOT NEXT TO A JEEP. EDGE OF AMBULANCE CAN BARELY BE SEEN ARRIVING AT FAR RIGHT SIDE OF SCREEN] This morning, Arab governments are condemning Israel and backing the Palestinians. The violence is threatening to kill the peace process. Tom Aspell, NBC News, Tel Aviv.
Later on the October 1, 2000, Sunday Today, Maurice DuBois reported: "There was more violence in Israel today -- rock-throwing and gunfire. Palestinian youths and soldiers clashed once again. It is reported that a Palestinian police officer was killed today. [SHOWS CLIP OF THE AL-DURA'S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE] Twelve people were killed yesterday in the worst violence in four years.”
On the October 1, 2000, NBC Nightly News:
JOHN SEIGENTHALER, IN OPENING TEASER: The mounting bloodshed in the Middle East between [SHOWS CLIP OF PALESTINIAN MAN FIRING THROUGH HOLE IN A WALL FROM PALLYWOOD] Palestinians and Israelis.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'm sorry to say we are in a war.
ASPELL REPORTED: Palestinians have been enraged by the death of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura. [SHOWS CLIP OF BOY'S BODY IN FUNERAL PROCESSION] Thousands attended his funeral after television pictures [SHOWS CLIP OF THE AL-DURA'S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AND APPEARING TO BE SHOT] 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 1, 2000, CNN World View, anchor Andria Hall reported: "Now, putting a human face on the troubles in the Middle East, a funeral was held Sunday for a 12-year-old boy who was shot during the violence in the Gaza Strip. [SHOWS A CLIP OF THE AL-DURA'S, WITH THE BOY LYING WITH HIS HANDS OVER HIS EYES, THE FATHER'S HEAD MOVING IN CIRCLES LIKE HE WAS DELIRIOUS, THEN A CLIP OF THE FUNERAL PROCESSION BUT WITHOUT SHOWING ANY CLOSE-UP OF THE BOY'S BODY] The boy died in his father's arms. Israeli authorities say the boy was caught in the crossfire. Palestinians said the boy had been intentionally targeted by Israeli sharpshooters.
On the October 2, 2000, Good Morning America, the al-Dura clip was not shown or mentioned, nor were other clips from Pallywood.
On the October 2, 2000, World News Now, anchor ABC’s 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. [SHOWS CLIP OF THE AL-DURA'S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AND APPEARING TO BE SHOT] 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. [SHOWS CLIP OF THE AL-DURA'S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE, THEN THE CLIP OF THE BOY LYING WITH HIS HANDS OVER HIS EYES AND THE FATHER APPEARING DELIRIOUS. THEN A CLIP FROM THE FUNERAL PROCESSION, BUT NO CLOSE-UP OF BOY'S BODY] 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, literally, watching it as if it were someone I knew, you know? And I, 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 on 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."
[DUE TO THE SHOW’S ABSENCE IN THE MRC’S ARCHIVE OF RECORDINGS, WHICH FOOTAGE WAS SHOWN IN THE REPORT WAS NOT VERIFIED]
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 [SHOWS A CLIP OF THE AL-DURA'S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AND SEEMING TO BE SHOT], 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:
TOM BROKAW, IN OPENING TEASER: High stakes: On the eve of the first U.S. presidential debate, new violence explodes in the Middle East. [SHOWS A CLIP OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE] That haunting image, a young boy caught in the crossfire.
MARTIN FLETCHER: “Inevitably, the innocent are killed. [SHOWS CLIP OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE, THEN APPEARING TO BE SHOT] 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.
[BROKAW INTRODUCES THE NEXT STORY WHILE A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE IS DISPLAYED IN THE UPPER LEFT QUADRANT OF THE SCREEN]
BROKAW: "There is so much violence in 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."
[THE REPORT BEGINS BY SHOWING CLIPS OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AS SEEN ON SEVERAL DIFFERENT TELEVISION STATIONS, FOLLOWED BY A CLIP OF MOHAMMED AL-DURA’S MOTHER CRYING]
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.
[CLIP OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE IS SHOWN AGAIN]
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, just bullets all over.
[CLIP IS SHOWN OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AND THEN APPEARING TO BE SHOT]
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.
RAHMEH: 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.
[CLIP OF A FUNERAL PROCESSION IS SHOWN, BUT NO CLOSE UP OF THE BODY. THEN THE CLIP OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE IS SHOWN AGAIN AS THE REPORT ENDS]
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.
On the October 2, 2000, Fox Report on FNC, Shepard Smith teased the show:
SHEPARD SMITH, IN OPENING TEASER: The Mideast kill zone. Scores dead as intense street fighting rages for the fifth straight day, threatening the stability of the entire region. [SHOWS CLIP OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE] Tonight, the heartbreaking story of one father, one son, and the brutal cost of battle, as Fox reports right now.
[AS SMITH INTRODUCES THE FIRST STORY, THE CLIP OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE IS SHOWN AGAIN, INCLUDING THE LATER PARTS WHEN THEY APPEAR TO BE SHOT AND THE FATHER APPEARS TO BE SITTING UP WOUNDED]
SMITH: A holy war over one of the holiest sites in the world. As Fox reports tonight, at least 40 people killed in five days of violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians. One of the victims, a 12-year-old boy whose father desperately tried to shield him from a barrage of bullets, and a two-year-old girl gunned down in her family car on the way to the hospital. The White House and world leaders calling on both sides to call a cease-fire, and the President saying he’s not giving up hope on the peace process.
BILL 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.
[CLIP OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE IS SHOWN AGAIN, INCLUDING THE LATER PARTS WHEN THEY APPEAR TO BE SHOT AND THE FATHER APPEARS TO BE SITTING UP WOUNDED]
RITA COSBY: Now, one of the most heartbreaking incidents happened on Saturday, and was captured on videotape. It showed a terrified 12-year-old Palestinian boy dying in a crossfire of bullets, as he huddled near a cement block with his father, who was trying to protect him.
[A 2-SECOND CLIP OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE IS SHOWN AGAIN DURING THE 7:30 RECAP OF TOP STORIES]
FNC also ran the clip of the al-Dura’s hiding from gunfire during the newsbrief before the O’Reilly Factor and again before Hannity and Colmes.
On the October 3, 2000, The Early Show on CBS:
JIM NANCE, SUBSTITUTE ANCHOR, IN OPENING TEASER: In Israel, a shaky cease-fire. World leaders rush to a summit in Paris. We'll talk with the man being blamed for the worst Mideast violence in four years.
[AT 7:18 AM, A REPORT BY DAVID HAWKINS RAN UPDATING VIEWERS ON THE CEASE-FIRE, AND USED THE CLIP FROM PALLYWOOD OF THE MAN FIRING A GUN THROUGH A HOLE IN A WALL]
JULIE CHEN: And later, we'll talk with the man many believe triggered the latest Mideast troubles: Israeli politician Ariel Sharon.
At 7:30 AM, Jane Clayson interviewed Ariel Sharon, and asked a line of questions blaming him for the violence, and asking him did he "take any responsibility for what happened to that child?"
JANE CLAYSON: As we've reported, there is a shaky cease-fire this morning, after five days of pitched battles between Israelis and Palestinians. Most believe the peace will not hold, though. Political heads meet in Paris tomorrow. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The hope, to end the fighting that has killed over 50 people and threatened to scuttle the peace process. State Department officials say the violence was provoked by Ariel Sharon, the leader of Israel's hard-line opposition Likud Party, who recently visited a Jerusalem shrine revered by both Muslims and Jews. He is in Tel Aviv this morning. Mr. Sharon, good morning.
ARIEL SHARON, LIKUD PARTY LEADER: Good morning to you.
CLAYSON: A lot of people say that you are responsible for the violence in Israel over the past few days. Do you take responsibility?
SHARON: Not at all. The only one who is responsible for that is only Yasser Arafat, who orchestrated and instigated and preplanned all those I would say event that took place not, that did not start on Thursday but started about 10 days ago.
CLAYSON: But didn't you anticipate that the violence would break out when you went to the Temple Mount?
SHARON: First of all, I can tell you that those that are in charge of that didn't anticipated that and they gave all the permission there. And beside that, I would like you to know we speak about the holiest place of the, for the Jewish people. Jerusalem doesn't belong to us. It belongs to all the Jewish people, and that is the holiest place in Israel. We live in democracy, a really stable democracy, and everyone can visit any place which is under Israeli sovereignty. And Jerusalem and the Temple Mount is under Israeli sovereignty. Every, as a matter of fact, every Arab can go anywhere. Everyone can go to the Western Wall-
CLAYSON: 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.
SHARON: Not at all. Not at all. And only today it was announced officially today that all that was preplanned by Arafat, orchestrated by him and they, that those that are in charge of all those evaluations the situation never saw that that was going to happen, and they got promises from the Palestinians that, I don't know why they discussed it because this area is under our control, but they did it. But that happened like other promises of the Palestinian Authority. You have to know that is the holiest place, everyone-
CLAYSON: Mr. Sharon, explain what you mean by Mr. Arafat being responsible for this.
SHARON: Arafat is responsible because he orchestrated all those things. It did not start on last Thursday. It started about 10 days ago. We had only the casualties then. It was a terrible incitement that was going on, and otherwise I have been there before, and I'll be there also in the future, because everyone can go anywhere. Arabs can go, we can go. That, and you have to know everyone that knows the Bible knows that we have been using the term Temple Mount for, I'll say the Prophet Isaiah and Jeremiah using it, the Christian world have been using-
SHARON: -the term Temple Mount for almost 2,000 years now. That is the holiest place, and the Jews have the right to go and pray there. But, of course, when you saw everything that happened, when you saw everything that happened-
CLAYSON: Okay. Let me ask you about one of the most disturbing and provocative images [SHOWS THE CLIP OF THE AL-DURA'S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AND THEN APPEARING TO HAVE BEEN SHOT] from the violence so far. It came this weekend. It's a picture of that 12-year-old little boy who was caught in a crossfire, who eventually died in his father's arms. Do you take any responsibility for what happened to that child?
SHARON: No, the responsibilities are Arafat's responsibility. Altogether, I should admit, it's very, very hard to see that picture. I saw this picture. Very hard to see it. We are also fathers and grandfathers. We understand that. And that terrible thing that happened when this boy and his father were caught by, in a crossfire, it is a real tragedy, but the one that should be blamed is only the one that started, the only one that really instigated all those activities, and that is Yasser Arafat. And one must understand-
CLAYSON: Well, Mr. Arafat has been working on, has been working on peace negotiations. In fact, all of this violence breaks out as Mr. Clinton, President Clinton, is trying to work on the peace process. How derailed are these talks now? Do you think we can ever, you can ever pick up again?
SHARON: Okay, first of all, all of us committed to peace, all of us will bring peace, but what happened only shows that only if Israel will be responsible for what's going on in Jerusalem, Jerusalem will be united, then it will be free access to everyone. I believe that negotiations will continue. We are committed to that. Maybe it should be, it should go along different line, because what happened there at Camp David only caused, I would say, most of those difficulties that happen now. What happened, I would say, I think everyone understand now, it's not enough to promise and promise and promise, to give in and give in and give in and not get anything in return. And I think that Arafat thought that once he will put some more pressure, that what he really wanted, then he will get everything that he wants. But though we understand it well, and I hope that the government will stand firm and will be very, very careful to, I would say, to watch and guard the future of Israel. I believe in peace. I believe that we can reach peace.
CLAYSON: In one answer, yes or no, are you optimistic that today's cease-fire will hold? Yes or no?
SHARON: Look, the cease-fire was already violated by the Palestinians. Already.
CLAYSON: Ariel Sharon, thank you very much.
SHARON: I'm really sorry for that. Thank you.
Later, Julie Chen reported: "A cease-fire declared this morning by Israeli and Palestinian forces has already been broke. Five days of bloodshed has left more than 50 people dead. The trouble began last week when Israeli politician Ariel Sharon visited a Jerusalem holy site. At 7:30 this morning, Sharon told Jane he was not to blame."
Sharon: "The only one who is responsible for that is only Yasser Arafat, who orchestrated and instigated and preplanned all those, I would say, event-"
On the October 3, 2000, CNN Morning News, Mike Hanna reported:
MIKE HANNA: At around 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, Jamal and his 12-year-old son Mohammed al-Dura are caught in the conflict. Relatives say the two were on their way back from a secondhand car market when they attempted to cross a junction with Palestinians on one side and Israeli security forces on the other. Jamal was seriously wounded in a hail of gunfire. His son died in his arms. Killed too an ambulance driver who attempted to rescue them. Israeli security forces contend the boy was killed in crossfire and say an investigation into the death will be carried out if the Palestinian Authority cooperates. The death one of many in a cycle of violence that began Thursday. That was when Israeli opposition politician Ariel Sharon erected to visit a holy site in the old city of Jerusalem. Israelis call it the Temple Mount. Palestinian refer to it as the Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary. It is an area that is at the very heart of the debate as to who should exercise sovereignty over the Old City and its holy shrines. The opposition Likud Party leader insisted he was exercising the right of any Jew to visit the holy place. But to Palestinians, Sharon's presence was regarded as a calculated insult. On Friday, after Muslims had finished their prayers in the Haram al-Sharif, violence once again broke out in the Old City. Some 60 Israelis and an estimated 200 Palestinians were injured; at least five Palestinians were killed.
NABIL SHAATH, PALESTINIAN CABINET MINISTER: There was no use of the proper instruments of so-called riot control. This was premeditated murder of people shot by snipers that escalated the situation to a very dangerous situation.
GENERAL DAVID TZUR, MINISTRY OF PUBLIC SECURITY: We had to use the rubber bullet. We had to use tear gas. And when it started to be more and more escalated, so we used the rubber bullet from a very short distance. Unfortunately, there were casualty.
HANNA: On Saturday, intense conflict erupts in the Gaza Strip, as in this Palestinian-controlled territory, demonstrators outside the Jewish enclave of Netzarim are fired on by Israeli forces. Palestinian police open fire on the Israeli position and a running gun fight ensues. It is on this day at a nearby junction that Muhammad al-Dura is killed. The violence is now intense throughout the West Bank, as well as the Gaza Strip. Palestinian leaders insist the demonstrations are spontaneous expression of anger at what is regarded at the defiling of Muslim holy sites by a right-wing Jewish politician. On Sunday, intense violence within Israel proper, as for the first time Israeli Arabs take to the streets in support of the Palestinian cause. Many more Palestinians killed in several areas. And Israeli tanks are deployed. On Monday, Palestinians tear down the flag from an Israeli outpost in Netzarim. Once again, massive gun battles ensue. And Israeli forces fire machine guns and anti-tank missiles from combat helicopters. And underlying yet another round of internationally-mediated discussion, the knowledge that no amount of negotiation will bring Mohamed Al-Dura back to life.
[DUE TO THE SHOW’S ABSENCE IN THE MRC’S ARCHIVE OF RECORDINGS, WHICH FOOTAGE WAS SHOWN IN THE REPORT WAS NOT VERIFIED]
On the October 3, 2000, World News This Morning, Hillary Brown reported: "[FIRST SCENE SHOWS MAN FROM PALLYWOOD FIRING INTO AN OPENING IN A WALL] It has seemed like all-out war between Palestinians, their police force, and Israeli soldiers. Now, in its sixth day, more than 50 people have died -- mainly Palestinians. Yesterday, 10 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and Gaza. At least eight Israeli Arabs and two Israelis were died in clashes inside Israel itself in the worst civil unrest since the creation of the state.
The October 3, 2000, Good Morning America did not mention al-Dura.
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."
PETER 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. Here's ABC's Gillian Findlay.
GILLIAN FINDLAY: There was no cease-fire today in the Palestinian city of Nablus, not in Ramallah, in Hebron, nor in Gaza, where these days just the sound of a helicopter sends people running. Israel attacked from the air again today. At least four Palestinians were killed. There were reports this morning that some Israeli troops in the West Bank were pulling back, but then the stone throwing started again, and so did the shooting. In Israel itself, where some of the worst fighting has taken place, police kept their distance, allowing Israeli Arabs to bury their dead in peace. Nineteen-year-old Azmi Nazar was killed yesterday as he and hundreds of others in this town took over the streets and battled with Israeli troops. These people say what happened here is not just about Jerusalem and who controls Muslim holy sites. Their anger, they say, has been building for 52 years. Ever since the state of Israel was proclaimed on their land, Arabs who stayed in Israel have felt discriminated against.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: People are sick from the situation. People are not ready to accept it anymore.
FINDLAY: This won't help matters. On Israeli TV tonight, an Arab woman, attending a small demonstration in Nazareth, was shown being beaten by Israeli police, another image that will fuel the anger here that will make stopping the violence even harder. Gillian Findlay, ABC News, Nazareth.
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. As CBS’s David Hawkins reports, this is a level of rage not seen in the region in years."
From the October 4, 2000, Nightline on ABC:
TED KOPPEL, IN OPENING TEASER: Seven days of violence in Israel.
[SHOWS CLIP OF MAN WITH WHITE SHIRT AND BLUE PANTS FIRING A GUN THROUGH A WALL, THE SAME SCENE SHOWN TO BE STAGED IN PALLYWOOD. AFTER ANOTHER CLIP OF VIOLENCE IS SHOWN A CLIP OF THE AL-DURA’S AFTER THE ALLEGED SHOOTING WHEN THE FATHER IS SITTING UP SUPPOSEDLY WOUNDED]
More than 60 dead, almost 2,000 injured. Tonight, late world of a possible deal that may stop the bloodshed. But will it work? [SHOWS A CLIP OF ARIEL SHARON WEARING SUNGLASSES AND WALKING AMID A CROWD] Many say this man triggered the violence in the first place.
ARIEL SHARON: I came here with a message of peace.
KOPPEL: What does he now think about the likelihood of peace? I’ll be talking live to Ariel Sharon, the man in the eye of the storm, tonight.
Gillian Findlay relayed the anger over the al-Dura shooting, and that Palestinians see Ariel Sharon as "the devil." During the following portion of her report, the footage is shown of the al-Dura’s hiding from gunfire, and appearing to be shot.
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Ted, it's early in the morning here on the eighth day of this conflict. And this will be very unsettling news here. Even when it looked like there was a possibility of a cease-fire, many people were asking, 'Would it have any effect?' On the seventh day, the fighting was less intense, but just as deadly. In Gaza, two Palestinians were killed as Israel continued attacking from the air. In the West Bank, three dead today. And still the protests continued. Palestinians are calling this the Intifada for Jerusalem. It's an uprising that has already claimed more than 60 Palestinian lives, left nearly 2,000 injured. And none of it would have happened, they say, if not for one man, Ariel Sharon. When Mr. Sharon announced he would visit Jerusalem's temple mount last week, Palestinian leaders warned of trouble. Hundreds of Israeli police were sent to protect the opposition leader as he toured the place where Jews believe their ancient temples once stood, a place now dominated by two of Islam's holiest mosques. As word of the visit spread, Palestinians came running. And soon the first stones of this conflict started to fly. After making a quick exit, Mr. Sharon dashed to the TV cameras to proclaim incredibly that he had come to bring the Palestinians a message of peace.
SHARON: I came here to the holiest place of the Jewish people in order to see what happens here and really to have the feelings that, how we need to move forward. It was not provocation here. The provocation was only on the other side.
FINDLAY: But it was a provocation, of course. Who will control the Temple Mount or the Haram-al-Sharif as Muslims know it, is the most contentious issue dividing Palestinians and Israelis. For Palestinians, the fact that it was Mr. Sharon who was visiting made it even worse, the architect of Israel's invasion of Lebanon, the man who they hold responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian refugees there.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Mr. Sharon is a provocateur, he and all the people who joined him. He came here in order to build up the area. Al-Aqsa mosque is an Islamic place. Al-Aqsa is in the Palestinian territory.
FINDLAY: The next morning at Friday prayers, that's exactly what the imam, the religious leader, said too. And he called on worshipers to go out defend the mosque. Within minutes, Palestinians were throwing stones at Israeli troops stationed outside. And then the troops opened fire. On a place that both Muslims and Jews believe is sacred, seven Palestinians died that day. At that point, Palestinian leaders say, they knew the situation was about to explode. In the days that have followed, some Palestinian police have tried to restrain their people. Others have given up the pretense completely, joining the fighting with their guns. But they and the stone throwers have been no match for the Israeli army. Some of the fiercest clashes have happened in Israel itself. Israeli Arabs, 20 percent of the population here, have joined the protests in solidarity.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Mr. Sharon's visit started it. Sharon started this whole thing. When people, when the Palestinians here saw the pictures of how people were killed in the West Bank, we couldn't anymore stand. We couldn't stay at home.
FINDLAY: On Monday, Israel's prime minister made his first public statement about the fighting. But Ehud Barak says no Israeli was to blame. Palestinian leaders, he said, had been looking for a fight.
EHUD BARAK, ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER: It was quite predictable, at a certain point toward the end of negotiation, the Palestinians might consider kind of violent steps as creating certain advantage for them.
FINDLAY: On the streets, Palestinians say Israelis are deluding themselves. Marwan Barghouti is one of Yasser Arafat's top lieutenants.
MARWAN BARGOUTI: I don't think that the Palestinian people need after the massacre and the aggressive visit of Sharon to the mosque, need any kind of planning, need any kind of inciting from anybody or orders from Mr. Arafat or from anybody.
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."
KOPPEL: Gillian, let me just ask you quickly to fill in our American audience on the domestic political role that Ariel Sharon plays in Israel and on how that may fit into this current situation.
FINDLAY: Well, Mr. Sharon is the opposition leader here, the head of the right-wing Likud party. But he is also a man under his own political pressure. In the last couple of weeks, it seems to be clear that Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Prime Minister of Israel, is talking about making a comeback here. That has put pressure on Mr. Sharon, and some people are saying that all of this was designed to make points with his own constituency, to shore up right-wing supporters.
KOPPEL: 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.
You must have known, Mr. Sharon, that what you did when you went to the Temple Mount was going to be controversial. I don't know that you could have imagined how much bloodshed would be caused. Now that you look back on it, do you regret your decision in going there?
KOPPEL: If I may, then, Mr. Sharon, I can only say it looks as though you played right into the hands of the Palestinians then. If, as you say, they were already trying to provoke violence, then having Ariel Sharon, who is after all not just any Israeli, go to the Temple Mount, surrounded by a thousand Israeli security guards, you must have known that that would provoke violence.
KOPPEL: Mr. Sharon, forgive me for interrupting you. We're going to have to take a short break. Let me just tell you before the break that the White House appears to be almost as angry, almost as frustrated with you and your behavior as some of the Palestinians are. Let me ask you to consider that for a moment as we take a short break, and I'll ask for your reaction when we come back. Back with Ariel Sharon in a moment.
KOPPEL: And we're back once again with Ariel Sharon. I am told by my colleagues over at the White House this evening that officials there are both frustrated and extremely angry at you personally. They believe that you may have undermined whatever chances for peace there were between the Israelis and the Palestinians. First of all, do you care?
KOPPEL: We have only about a minute left, and let me just ask you one political question. The Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, has a razor-thin majority. It is feared that he will not be able to continue ruling without forming some kind of a coalition government with your party, with the Likud. If that happens, will there be a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, anything near along the lines of what was negotiated last summer here in Maryland?
KOPPEL: Mr. Sharon, I'm afraid we're out of time. It was very good of you to join us live this evening. And I look forward to talking to you again soon. Thank you, sir.
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."
From the October 4, 2000, Special Report with Brit Hume: One of the victims of the conflict has now become a symbol that continues to fuel the trouble, as Fox News’s Jennifer Griffin reports from Gaza.
JENNIFER GRIFFIN: For the seventh day, riots gripped the Palestinian territories as Israeli forces tried to keep a lid on clashes that have claimed at least 60 lives in a week. 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?
[CLIP IS SHOWN OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AND THEN APPEARING TO BE SHOT]
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. [CLIP IS SHOWN OF A BOY’S BODY BEING CARRIED IN A FUNERAL PROCESSION] Thousands of angry Palestinians attended his funeral, vowing to continue to fight Israel until they avenge the boy's death. In Gaza, Jennifer Griffin, Fox News.
On the October 4. 2000, Fox Report, Shepard Smith introduced the same story by Griffin as the clip of the al-Dura’s hiding from gunfire and then appearing to be shot being played on screen. Smith: "Well, six of those people dying today. Fierce fighting in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Bullets, rocks, even armor-piercing missiles being put to use in some of the worst clashes of the week-long violence. And a grieving mother speaking out now about her son killed in the crossfire in the arms of his father, in a Fox report now from Jennifer Griffin.
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," the show 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.
From the October 13 Nightline:
ANNOUNCER: This is a Nightline Friday Night Special.
[SHOWS PHOTOGRAPH OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE STARTING WITH A CLOSE-UP OF MOHAMMED’S TERRIFIED FACIAL EXPRESSION]
TED KOPPEL: The image, the power of a single image-
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: We have people being killed, as we saw, and people being wounded.
KOPPEL: -to move us-
BILL CLINTON: It was a heartbreaking thing to see a child like that caught in a crossfire.
[SHOWS PHOTOGRAPH OF PALESTINIAN MAN IN A WINDOW HOLDING UP HIS BLOODY HANDS AFTER TAKING PART IN BEATING TO DEATH OF TWO ISRAELI RESERVISTS]
KOPPEL: -to define a moment-
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: This image is saying that this is their revenge.
KOPPEL: -to reduce an entire conflict to a single picture.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: The horrible pictures shock every human being.
KOPPEL: But does it tell the whole story?
CLINTON: The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is one of the greatest tragedies and most difficult problems of our time.
KOPPEL: Tonight, "Snapshots of a Conflict," the power of an image.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, this is Nightline. Reporting from Washington, Ted Koppel.
KOPPEL: During the First World War, propagandists on the British side purveyed stories of the German Kaiser's troops raping Belgian nuns, tossing babies in the air and catching them on their bayonets. There is no evidence that any such events actually took place, but the stories had their desired effect.
Prior to the Spanish-American war in Cuba, the combat artist Frederick Remington cabled his publisher, William Randolph Hearst, "Everything is quiet. There will be no war. I wish to return," to which Hearst famously replied, "Please remain. You furnish pictures. I will furnish war."
The pictures we have seen these last few days from Yemen and the Middle East are tragically real enough. Those US soldiers dead and missing and injured are no figment of anyone's imagination. They were aboard the USS Cole when terrorist bombs exploded at her waterline while she lay exposed at anchor. Close to 100 Palestinians and Israeli Arabs have been killed by Israeli gunfire over the past couple of weeks. And not a parent among us will ever forget the image of that Palestinian father trying to shield his young son, who is now among those dead.
One horrible image struggles for our attention with the next. The latest among them: the mutilated body of that Israeli soldier lynched inside a Palestinian police station and tossed out of an open window, a young Palestinian appearing a moment later, triumphantly exposing his bloody hands to the crowd below. And each of us imposes on each picture the template of his own fears and prejudices. The images, as Nightline correspondent John Donvan reminds us, are tools of war as much as any gun or rocket.
[JOHN DONVAN’S SETUP PIECE STARTS BY SHOWING A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE PALESTINIAN MAN WITH BLOOD ON HIS HANDS STANDING IN A WINDOW, WHO HELPED BEAT TO DEATH TWO ISRAELI RESERVISTS, AND SHOWS FOOTAGE OF THE MOB THAT BEAT THE TWO ISRAELI RESERVISTS TO DEATH. ONE ISRAELI’S BODY IS SEEN DROPPING FROM A WINDOW AND BEING SURROUNDED BY THE MOB WITH ONE PALESTINIAN BEATING HIM WITH A LARGE OBJECT.]
JOHN DONVAN: Let's just admit it: The word that comes to mind the very first time you lay eyes on this photo is "savage." Politically incorrect it may be, but when the news tells you that two Israeli soldiers were beaten to death yesterday by a crowd in and around a Palestinian police station, a crowd that looked like it was enjoying itself, and then the headline photo is one of the killers with his hands dipped in the dead man's blood, grinning from a window, then it seems obvious he is a savage, they are savages, and everything you really need to know about the people the Israelis are fighting is right here in these pictures. Surely the camera doesn't lie.
[CLIP IS SHOWN OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AND THEN APPEARING TO BE SHOT]
And if the camera doesn't lie, then what essential truth did it tell us two weeks ago about the Israelis? You probably saw this wretched scene, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Dura, and his father pinned against a wall, shooting all around. Repeatedly the father implores the Israeli soldiers to stop shooting, but Israeli bullets smack into them one after the other. The boy died, and the father finally keeled over. And what this tells you about the Israelis is that when it comes to Palestinians, even Palestinian kids, they are without mercy. That's who the Palestinians are fighting.
The thing about pictures is that you know, or at least you think you know, that what you see is real. But the truth about pictures is that they don't necessarily tell the whole truth. And yet, in a place like the Middle East, a dramatic photo or a piece of video can take on a life of its own, and the results of that can range from the absurd to the sad to the dangerous. An example of the sad. I covered a lot of car bombings in Lebanon in the early 1980s. One stands out because of the pictures we got of a little girl being carried out of the wreckage on a stretcher. ABC News received phone calls from all over America, good people offering to send her money or to fly her to the U.S. for treatment. The thing was what they saw was a girl who was already dead on that stretcher. It just wasn't obvious in the picture.
Another image that had enormous impact, it was 1982. The Israelis had invaded Lebanon and were bombing Beirut. This picture appeared of a seven-month-old boy, a Lebanese Christian, missing his arms and badly burned after an Israeli jet mistakenly bombed his home. At the White House, Ronald Reagan told aides this photo brought the war home to him. Soon afterward the U.S. stepped up its pressure on Israel to stop the bombing. A footnote: The report that the boy lost his arms turned out to be inaccurate.
For many years, most of us in the U.S. adhered to a pretty simple image of the Israeli/Arab conflict. The Israelis were the good guys, fighting for their lives against overwhelming numbers of Arabs. The Palestinians, if we thought of them at all, we thought of as terrorists. Things have changed now, in part because the reality has changed, in part because the images of reality have changed.
In 1967 it is true that Israel was surrounded by enemies, and when they won their astonishing victory in the six-day war, the U.S. media seized on the notion that despite Israel's superior power, a David had defeated a Goliath. Meanwhile, the Palestinian attack on the Israeli Olympic team in Munich was the most visible of a long string of terrorist attacks that provided endless ammunition for those who wanted to depict Palestinians as barbaric and cowardly.
And then how the images reversed. In 1987 the Palestinians learned to play underdog. In the Intifada, they let the world see who had the guns in Israel and who had to fight with stones. Israel quickly lost much of the West's sympathy and has never quite regained it to this day. Americans saw a new kind of Palestinian face, a younger generation that looks, well, American. Now, the fact is, there were Palestinians like this all along, but that simple image of the terrorist had blocked them from our view.
[SHOWS PHOTOGRAPH OF THE PALESTINIAN MAN WITH BLOOD ON HIS HANDS AND THE PHOTOGRAPH OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE ON SCREEN NEXT TO EACH OTHER]
And now we have these two new horrifying pictures to deal with. They are very different episodes, very different circumstances, not necessarily morally equivalent. And already Nightline viewers are using them to draw conclusions about the Palestinians as a people and the Israelis as a people.
This e-mail from Y. Schwartz, who calls the Palestinians "a bunch of vicious animals with no mercy." And this from Mourad Ouazzi, who writes that the Israelis "have shown us the true face of terrorists and sinners."
Were there extenuating circumstances surrounding both sets of pictures? Perhaps. Nightline obtained this aerial photograph from the Israeli Defense Ministry taken at the time of 12-year-old Mohammed's death. They claim it shows Mohammed and his father caught between two Palestinian snipers, here and here, who were firing on an Israeli position in this building. The Israelis say the angle at which they fired back at the second sniper would have brought the gunfire dangerously close to the father and son, that it was an accident, not a deliberate killing, as many Palestinians now believe.
As for the mob that attacked the Israeli soldiers yesterday, ABC producer Nasser Atta saw it happen, and reports that most of the crowd had just come from burying someone the Israelis killed earlier in the week, and they were reacting to a wild rumor that the soldiers were assassins.
NASSER ATTA: This was the story, that those are two soldiers from the "elite forces"--this is the way the Israelis call them--and they are from the "death squad," "undercover units," that wear like dresses like Arabs, and they were trying to come to the funeral so they would be able to assassinate the head of Fatah, who is the street leader, Marwan Barghouti.
DONVAN: Palestinians also raise reasonable questions about the Israeli version of what happened. How could the Israeli soldiers have stumbled accidentally into a major Palestinian city? And can the Israelis really know that the Palestinian police were accomplices in the killings?
Does any of this justify what happened? Absolutely not. But it shows us how the stories that pictures tell may leave out some critical details. Of course, it's easier to picture your enemy as purely evil--easier except when the time comes to make peace.
And tonight, we Americans have a new set of pictures to try and make sense of. Today they began bringing home the bodies of the 17 men killed by a suicide attack against the USS Cole anchored in Yemen. The words we are using for the killers: "terrorists," "cowards," an enemy we are accustomed to thinking of as purely evil, and we don't even know who they are. I'm John Donvan for Nightline, in Washington.
TED KOPPEL: When we come back, two of our colleagues, two ABC News producers, one Palestinian, one Israeli, give their personal insights into the images and their own experiences.
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:
BOB SIMON, TEASING THE SEGMENT: When 12-year-old Mohammad al-Dura was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers as he lay cradled in his father's arms, the entire world was appalled. This kid, throwing stones one minute, was a corpse the next. Just like that. There have been nearly 40 Palestinian children killed in the past few weeks, hundreds more injured. They just keep on falling.
SIMON: Why are your soldiers killing so many kids?
BRIGADIER GENERAL BENNY GANTZ: First of all, I hope that we are not killing too many kids, though I know there were cases which kids were killed.
SIMON: Do you think that the Palestinians are actually pushing their kids to the frontline?
SIMON INTRODUCED THE SEGMENT: 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 LATER ADDED: "And resistance creates victims who become martyrs, hardening the hearts of both peoples, making compromise even more difficult to imagine. Just think of two pictures from the last few weeks. An Israeli soldier thrown out of a window, his body ripped apart by an Arab mob. That Palestinian 12-year-old, Mohammad al-Dura, shot to death by Israeli soldiers while wrapped in the arms of his father. They weren't even part of the protest. They were shopping for a used car and got trapped in the crossfire. Two pictures, icons now, bringing home more than any images of the last 50 years just how savage and senseless this conflict has become."
On the October 25, 2000, CBS Evening News, Dan Rather ran a full story on the al-Dura shooting:
[AS RATHER PLUGGED THE STORY BEFORE A COMMERCIAL BREAK, A BRIEF CLIP OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE WAS SHOWN]
RATHER: And later, revelations about the death of a Palestinian child from the man behind the camera.
[SAME CLIP OF THE AL-DURA’S IS SHOWN AGAIN BEFORE ANOTHER PLUG BY RATHER]
RATHER: Ahead on the CBS Evening News, new information about the on-camera death of a Palestinian child.
RATHER: "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. CBS’s David Hawkins has come up with some new facts about that, on assignment in Gaza."
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 cameraman 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. [CLIP IS SHOWN OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE] 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-Dura’s 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-Dura’s. The cameraman who took the shot seen round the world was across the street.
TALAL ABU RAHMEH, PALESTINIAN CAMERAMAN 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 am a journalist. I am 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.
[CLIPS ARE SHOWN OF A BOY’S BODY BEING CARRIED IN A FUNERAL PROCESSION]
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. [CLIP IS SHOWN OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AND APPEARING TO BE SHOT] 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.
RATHER: Later this week, on the CBS Evening News, correspondent Hawkins will report in depth on the more radical and violent elements of the Palestinian movement now gaining ground in their attempts to attack and pressure Israel.
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. Some portion of the al-Dura clip was shown four times. Footage was also shown of the mob that attacked the two Israeli reservists, including a clip of one of the bodies being dropped from a window. Clips are shown from the same scene from Pallywood with the ambulance that arrives right after a man appears to be shot, but the actual shooting is not shown.
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."
The November 12, 2000, edition of 60 Minutes, which is the same edition that is analyzed in the film Pallywood:
[CLIP OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE IS SHOWN DURING THE TEASER AS BOB SIMON BEGINS HIS PORTION OF THE TEASER]
BOB SIMON, IN OPENING TEASER: If the Israelis could erase anything, it would be this picture of the 12-year-old boy who was killed in the cross fire of a battle between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers who were there to protect this Jewish settlement a mile away, so under sieged by Palestinians that their daily bread is delivered by Israeli army helicopter. And when you ask them, "Why are you here?"
SHLOMIT ZIV, ISRAELI SETTLER: God's with us. He promised this land to us. And he's going to give it to us. And I'm sure he has much more patience than I do.
BOB SIMON: One prize President Clinton will not take with him when leaves office in January is peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He tried, but it just didn't work out. In fact, what's happening over there right now is looking more and more like a war, the latest Arab-Israeli war. And the biggest battles are being waged not in Jerusalem or Jericho or any of those biblical battlefields, but in a tiny spot in the middle of nowhere, which very few people could find on a map.
[CLIP IS SHOWN OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AND THEN APPEARING TO BE SHOT. DIFFERENT SCENES OF PALESTINIANS SEEMINGLY ENGAGED IN VIOLENCE ARE SHOWN, ONE OF WHICH IS A CLIP OF A MAN BEING DRAGGED ACROSS THE GROUND NEAR AN AMBULANCE – THIS IS FROM THE SCENE SHOWN IN PALLYWOOD IN WHICH THE MAN SEEMED TO BE SHOT AND AN AMBULANCE SHOWED UP RIGHT AFTERWARDS, BUT THE SHOOTING PORTION AND AMBULANCE ARRIVAL PORTION ARE NOT SHOWN]
SIMON: What put it on the map was one incident, one image, which millions have seen and few will forget: a 12-year-old boy, a Palestinian, cowering behind a barrel, his father trying desperately and unsuccessfully to protect him. The boy's family suffered a loss which cannot be measured, and so did Israel. Israelis fervently wish this had never happened, and it wouldn't have if Israeli soldiers hadn't been at this crossroad using their firepower to defend Jewish settlers living nearby.
On a quiet day, it's easy to get your bearings here. This is the main artery of the Gaza Strip, where more than a million Palestinians live--runs from north to south. The road crossing it was built by the Israelis to supply a Jewish settlement with 60 families about a mile that way to the west. That bunker behind me, right on the crossroad, is an Israeli army post. It's there to make sure no Palestinians get anywhere near that Jewish settlement.
SIMON: It's called Netzarim, and it's a green and pleasant place: rows of red-roofed houses, clipped lawns, clean air, no crime, a sea view. Ozzie and Harriet would feel right at home here, until they walked to the edge of the community. That's where paradise stops because it's surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers and hatred.
SHLOMIT ZIV: They hate us. When we go through the junction, we see hate in their eyes, we feel the hate. We get stones from children.
SIMON: Shlomit Ziv has lived in Netzarim with her husband and six children for six years, and she doesn't regret a minute, even though it takes an entire army battalion to keep her and her fellow settlers safe, even though soldiers patrol the perimeter 24 hours a day, and there's more security than at Fort Knox; even though food delivery these past weeks has often been by helicopter – daily bread courtesy of the Israeli army, manna from heaven. What's the point of living in the Gaza Strip with 1.2 million Palestinians who do not want you here?
ZIV: The same point as living in all Israel surrounded with much more millions of Arabs who don't want us here.
SIMON: Netzarim was established 27 years ago as an army camp and soon became an agricultural community. Some of the settlers still do some farming, tomatoes in hothouses. A few others teach in the settlement's high-tech elementary school. But most go to work in Israel every day. That's just down the road. But the only way to travel from the place often called the 'ghetto of Gaza' is by armed convoy. The settlers pray, with good reason, before every trip, and that's because the war is just a stone's throw away.
SIMON: There are many places in Israel, Tel Aviv for example, where you can raise your kids in a fairly normal way. Why do you choose to live here where you can't?
ZIV: First of all, I can, you see. This is, this is very beautiful settlement. We can live here.
SIMON: And your kids can only leave in a convoy escorted by army soldiers. This isn't normal.
ZIV: Yeah, but my way of life, everything I do, I don't decide what to do by what's easy or by what's comfortable.
SIMON: All the people who live in Netzarim are fervent religious nationalists. They believe that when God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people, he gave them title not only to Jerusalem and to the holy places near it, but to the Gaza Strip as well, even though there isn't a holy site within sight.
ZIV: Abraham was here. God told him when he walked around here, 'I'll give you this land.'
SIMON: So the Gaza Strip one day will be part of Israel?
ZIV: That's what I believe.
SIMON: And what's going to happen to the 1.2 million Palestinians who live in Gaza?
ZIV: They will decide if they want to stay here peacefully with us, to be citizens of our land, of our state, welcome.
SIMON: Around the crossroad, views tend to get blurred. For a clear vision, you have to step back a bit. Hirsch Goodman is an Israeli military analyst, a senior fellow at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. The people who live there say, 'Abraham was here. It's our land. If the Palestinians want to stay here, well, they can stay as good citizens of our state.'
HIRSCH GOODMAN, JAFFEE CENTER FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES: These people of the, are a tremendous cost to Israel. Young boys are risking their lives. We're killing children because of it. There's no logic to the place. It horrendously costly in terms of defense. It's a bone in the throat of the Palestinians and a thorn in the side of the Israelis.
[SHOWS FOOTAGE OF PALESTINIANS SEEMING TO BE ENGAGED IN VIOLENCE, WHICH IS SHOWN IN PALLYWOOD. THE CLIP OF THE MAN APPEARING TO BE SHOT NEXT TO A JEEP IS SHOWN, BUT THE IMMEDIATE ARRIVAL OF THE AMBULANCE NEXT TO HIM IS NOT SHOWN]
SIMON: Just how much of a thorn was revealed these last few weeks. Netzarim was directly responsible for one of the most disastrous setbacks Israel has suffered in decades. The fiercest battles in the Middle East were waged right here at the crossroad, at that army post which is there to protect the settlement, which is the focal point of Palestinian rage. In this one tiny area, which Palestinians now call the Martyr's Junction, more than 30 were killed and hundreds were wounded. In modern warfare, one picture can be worth 1,000 weapons. [SHOWS A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE] And this one picture damaged Israel so profoundly that the commanding general of Israeli forces in Gaza has been trying desperately to prove his men were not responsible. If you killed around 30 Palestinians during the battles, why was the death of this boy, Mohammed al-Dura, so important you?
GENERAL YOM-TOV SAMIA: From the very beginning, the reasons from my side is to check and clean up our values, to see that we are still acting as the IDF.
SIMON: The Israeli Defense Forces.
SAMIA: The Israeli Defense Forces, with written values; that we are not shooting kids.
SIMON: It was as if the right of Israelis to be here at all in the settlement, at the crossroad, depended on that picture being erased. So that's what General Yom-Tov Samia set out to prove: that his men didn't kill that kid. But there was a problem. The fighting was continuing, and the soldiers in that army post were receiving fire from surrounding buildings. So the general brought in helicopter gunships and destroyed the buildings: apartment blocks, the factory, the Palestinian police post and the wall where Mohammed and his father were shot. Trouble is he had destroyed the scene of the killing. All the evidence was dust. Why did you rip down the wall and the barrel where they were hiding behind? I mean, wouldn't it be easier to conduct the investigation if they were still here?
SAMIA: I agree with you that it was a mistake. It's my mistake to destroy this wall before ending the investigation, even before starting. So he built a wall at a firing range. He hired scientists. They brought in dummies. Calculations were made – distance, angles. But before the soldiers even opened fire, the general and his scientists had reached their conclusions, predictable conclusions: Mohammed al-Dura and his father had not been shot by Israelis.
SAMIA: I am very sure that they were, they were shot from the Palestinian side.
SIMON: The general may believe that, but it will be a hard sell even to Israelis. How receptive do you think Israelis are to the idea, the general's idea, that the Israelis couldn't have done it?
GOODMAN: I think from the Israeli public's point of view, the damage has been done, and we are perceived as a guilty party here. And all the charts and all the tables and all the explanations are not going to change the Tiananmen Square image of one man in front of a tank or one young boy of 12 years old being shot in a crossfire.
SIMON: And since it happened because of the battle raging by that army post at the crossroad, that army post whose only purpose is to protect the settlement of Netzarim, which the Israeli government admits is of no strategic value whatsoever, why not evacuate the place tomorrow and resettle the settlers in Tel Aviv? Why not just get out of there?
GOODMAN: We cannot be perceived, once again, to be withdrawing under fire. We just cannot do it
SIMON: You have to look tough in this neighborhood.
GOODMAN: You have to look tough and live tough. We're not going to withdraw unilaterally. It would send a disastrous message. Now I, personally, am not one of these great security freaks who say we need all these territories. But I'm saying, for Israel to withdraw under fire would be catastrophic. It'll be a signal, a monument to the rest of the Palestinians that if you keep on fighting long enough, they're going to give it all back.
SIMON: But the Palestinians expected Netzarim to have been closed down a long time ago. That's what they thought the peace process was all about: exchanging land for peace, evacuating settlements. From the refugee camp just down the road, Netzarim is seen as a monument to the continuing Israeli occupation. This place, Bureij, is Mohammed al-Dura's world, the world he lived in, the world he left. It's also where Rhada Abu Shammala comes from. She’s a Palestinian academic and a mother, and when she sees the settlers' convoys moving by the crossroad, she sees incitement. So you think they're here just to be, as Americans say, in your face?
RHADA ABU SHAMMALA, PALESTINIAN ACADEMIC: Yes, just to let everyone feel that they are here. With these settlers, the clashes and the problems and the obstacles for peace will remain forever because when I see them moving, I will not believe in anything called peace.
SIMON: And if Palestinian visions of peace are darkening, so is the situation on the road to the settlement. The Israelis are bringing in tanks, and the death toll is rising. People on both sides are now convinced this is not going to stop anytime soon. And what will count in the end is neither the number of weapons nor the number of martyrs, but endurance, staying power.
ZIV: I have a lot of patience. I believe that our beliefs will come to, come true.
SIMON: You know, the Palestinians say they've got a lot of patience, too.
ZIV: Well, let's see who's going to win. I'll tell you what, in my beliefs, God's with us. He promised this land to us. He’s going to give it to us. And I'm sure he has much more patience than I do.
SIMON: How old is your daughter?
SHAMMALA: She’s four and a half years.
SIMON: Four and a half. Can you imagine, say, in 10 years from now, if there's another round of protests, and your daughter says, 'I want to go out and throw stones at the Israelis with my friends.' Would you let her?
SHAMMALA: My daughter would not come to ask me. She will go by herself. She will not wait for me.
SIMON: So she might get shot.
SHAMMALA: She might get shot, and she will not be the first one, and she will not be the last one. Of course, I wish that she could be alive. I wanted her to be something in this world, to help this country, because it's enough. We lost a lot. But if the Israeli wants us to continue this road, this way, it's okay.
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:
[DURING JULIE CHEN’S INTRODUCTION, A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE IS SHOWN IN THE UPPER RIGHT QUADRANT OF THE SCREEN]
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.
[CLIP IS SHOWN OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AND APPEARING TO BE SHOT]
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 RAHMAH, 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. [CLIP IS SHOWN OF FUNERAL PROCESSION CARRYING THE BODY OF A BOY WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE MOHAMMED AL-DURA] 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 report 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.
TOM BROKAW: In the Middle East tonight, the subject: children of war. On a day that a baby girl killed by the Israelis is buried, the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accused Palestinians of deliberately putting their children in the line of fire. Now, as NBC’s Martin Fletcher reports, there is a shocking new war of words.
MARTIN FLETCHER: "Bury me with my baby," the father cries. His daughter, Iman, just four months old when she died in her mother’s arms yesterday, killed by shrapnel from an Israeli shell – the youngest victim of seven months of fighting. So far, there have been 121 funerals for Palestinian children here, most killed in the crossfire. 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. [SHOWS CLIP OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE, THEN APPEARING TO BE SHOT] 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 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.
On the June 30, 2003, World News Tonight, Peter Jennings reported that Mohammed al-Dura’s father, Jamal, had returned to the site of the shooting, but did not mention that there were any questions about the original version of the story:
PETER JENNINGS: It was an unusual day in the Middle East. The Israeli army was pulling out of the Palestinian territories, some of them, anyway, and three of the more militant Palestinian organizations got through the first day of what is supposed to be a 3-month moratorium on attacks against Israelis. In Jerusalem tonight, here's ABC's John Yang.
JOHN YANG: This morning, an Israeli army bulldozer cleared the way for Palestinians to move freely along the main thoroughfare in Gaza for the first time in nearly three years. It also provided Jamal al-Dura his first opportunity to return to the site where he and his 12 year-old son were caught in a gun battle in October, 2000. [SHOWS CLIP OF THE AL-DURA’S HIDING FROM GUNFIRE AND THEN APPEARING TO BE SHOT] It is one of the most notorious incidents of the current conflict. Al-Dura's son, Mohammed, was killed. In Bethlehem today, Palestinians prepared to take charge of security there, under an agreement reached this afternoon. The job of policing the 3-month truce, now, belongs to Palestinian Security Chief Mohammed Dahlan. It will not be easy. His security force has been gutted by the Israeli military. How long will it take you to rebuild them?
MOHAMMED DAHLAN, PALESTINIAN SECURITY MINISTER: At least I need six months.
YANG: "In the meantime," he says, "we will try our best. Already, we have foiled six major attacks." For this truce to hold, Mr. Dahlan says Israel must act quickly to improve Palestinians' daily lives, including limiting checkpoints, such as this one. That would give him the credibility to take on the militant groups directly.
MOHAMMED DAHLAN: It will allow us to attack as normal against the people who are breaking the law.
YANG: Just today, though, renegade militants killed a truck driver in the West Bank, a vivid illustration of the challenge facing Mr. Dahlan. John Yang, ABC News, Ramallah.