Expert: IDF Didn't Shoot Intifada Icon Mohammad al-Dura; Media Yawn

March 3rd, 2008 7:11 AM

Iconic image of Mohammad al-DuraIconic image of Mohammad al-DuraAn important trial in France revealed the Pallywood fauxtography machine and its media pipeline. Last week, expert testimony supported media critic Philippe Karsenty's claim that France 2 reporter Charles Enderlin's coverage of the Mohammad al-Dura affair was doctored and staged.

Karsenty appealed a verdict that he libeled Enderlin when he questioned the claim that Israel killed the boy who was crouching behind his father during a gunfight between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian shooters. 

Al-Dura's iconic image sped around the world and sold stamps, T shirts and the Second Intifada. It inspired violence, riots, terrorism and became a 21st century Blood Libel. On March 3, Israel's Haaretz reported the stunning news that if the boy and his father were actually shot at all, the bullets could not have come from Israel's position, only the Palestinians' (bold mine throughout):

In his report, [ballistics expert Jean-Claude] Schlinger wrote, "If Jamal [the boy's father] and Mohammed al-Dura were indeed struck by shots, then they could not have come from the Israeli position, from a technical point of view, but only from the direction of the Palestinian position."(...)

He also wrote, "In view of the general context, and in light of many instances of staged incidents, there is no objective evidence that the child was killed and his father injured. It is very possible, therefore, that it is a case [in which the incident was] staged." (...)

In his examination, he recreated the incident emphasizing the angle from which the shots could have been fired, the types of injuries and the types of weapons used by the IDF and the Palestinians.

According to his report, there is no evidence that the boy was wounded in his right leg or in his abdomen, as was originally reported. (...)

This is the first time that an independent ballistics expert, not representing the State of Israel, undertook to examine Karsenty's claims.

Maybe if the people at France 2 had ever watched any French-dubbed “CSI: Miami” episodes, they would have known that flimsy stories, manufactured evidence and overconfident cheaters always get nailed by methodical scientific analysis. Note: This is where David Caruso dramatically puts on his sunglasses and says something stupid like, “This French broken.” Cue music: "Yaaaaooow!”

Complicating Enderlin's tale, it turned out that he wasn't even in Gaza when al-Dura was supposedly shot. Even though the Israelis consider them unreliable, Enderlin hired a local Palestinian stringer to film for him, which is a common practice by the media. Media Backspin reported that Enderlin admitted he didn't check into the cameraman's reliability.

Media critic and former Middle East correspondent Tom Gross clearly and quickly summarized the controversy surrounding the al-Dura story, in this excellent, but brief YouTube interview with Honest Reporting.

Gross explains something that NewsBusters reported last year; Enderlin did not give the judge all of his film. Not only are nine crucial minutes of the footage missing, but Enderlin admitted manipulating what he did give the court. Even more damning, by matching the missing minutes to footage filmed at the same time by Reuters, it is clear that the missing portions contained evidence that people were clearly staging events. “Wounded” Palestinians are loaded into ambulances and then miraculously walk away unhurt and laughing.

This story was in the headlines for weeks and became symbolic of Israel's "oppression" of Gaza. Any connection to it was instant news—but not this time. Now that the legend of Mohammad al-Dura has more holes in it than an old “Hart to Hart” plot, aside from some coverage in Israel, the media no longer seem to think the story is important enough to report.

The court will announce the verdict on May 22.


Lynn Davidson contributes to NewsBusters and can be reached at tvisgoodforyou2 “a t” Y A H O O “d o t” C O M