Media Ignored Blows Dealt to Terrorist-Inspiring al-Dura Footage

Iconic image of Mohammad al-Dura and his fatherShouldn't the media cover the debunking of an event which stirred violent anti-Israel sentiment and even became a talking point for Osama Bin Ladin? Instead, the media ignored a French judge's investigation into whether France2's 2000 report that claimed Israel shot and killed a 12-year-old Palestinian boy is “a hoax.”

The famous picture of a terrified Mohammed al-Dura hiding behind his father enraged millions of Muslims and became such an iconic image of Palestinian martyrdom and Israeli occupation that it caused violent rioting, inspired some UK Muslims to commit to radical Islam and was even used in suicide bomber propaganda.

It took a defamation case to get France2 to fork over the raw footage, but Media Backspin reported portions are missing (bold mine throughout):

The judge, without any prompting from [] lawyers, asked what happened to the [original] 27 minutes. Enderlin said on record in court that he had to manipulate some footage that was not relevant to that day. He said he transferred the footage onto DVD for the court.

Combine that with the report's previous problems, such as the boy moving after he “died,” impossible bullet trajectories, ambulances racing away with no one in them and people calmly biking through what was supposed to be a firefight, and it's no wonder this very influential story is disputed (watch video).

Local Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahma shot the footage and said he filmed 27 minutes not 18. Two witnesses testified they viewed more footage than Enderlin brought to court. Media Backspin wrote one saw “more than 20 minutes” worth of tape and another saw “at least 21 minutes.”

Using footage filmed at the same time by Reuters. Augean Stables' Richard Landes posted some of the very clearly staged missing scenes. Landes documented Enderlin's omitted scenes of wounded Palestinians miraculously getting up and walking away unhurt.

It's significant that Enderlin edited out footage witnesses described as “staged,” when the case turns on the report's truth. 

Maybe Enderlin hasn't watched enough “CSI,” but this kind of editing leaves tracks. Landes quoted German documentary maker Esther Schapira who addressed a problem with the tape's time codes:

First of all, we have no proof whatsoever that what we saw today is really the camera tape or a DVD copy of the camera tape, the original master tape. For one simple reason, there was a consecutive time code on the DVD that we saw. Now there’s no way you can have the time code without any interruption when it is really the camera tape, because when you switch it on and off you always get a new time code… there are frames missing. So clearly, what you could see on the material was that it is not one shot… but many, many different shots.

If Enderlin had been a “CSI” viewer, he'd know that the cocky guy who thinks he's getting away with something is always nailed in the end through science and his own mistakes.

The same media that turned this story into a legend, are now largely silent as it falls apart. Other then some Israeli papers, Al Jazeera English and a BBC piece announcing the start of the trial, the media did not cover it. This isn't just about a shooting. This is about the credibility of not only state-run French TV but all news stories from the region.


      *Augean Stables-quick lesson on how “Pallywood” fakes news footage and how to spot it.


Lynn is a NewsBusters contributor and can be reached at tvisgoodforyou2 AT yahoo DOT com

Israel/Palestine Reuters Foreign/Non-English Media Arab Press Online Media Media Scandals Blogs Government & Press Journalistic Issues Fake News Mohammed al-Dura Charles Enderlin Talal Abu Rahma Richard Landes