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On the al-Dura affair: Israel officially drank the Kool Aid

A look at the right-wing conspiracy-nut thinking that informed this week’s blue-ribbon report on the infamous 2000 killing of a Palestinian boy in Gaza. 

Footage of the Muhammad al-Dura shooting (Screenshot: France 2)

In the 13 years since Muhammad al-Dura was killed in an Israeli-Palestinian shootout in Gaza while cowering behind his father, masses of right-wing Jews have eagerly embraced a conspiracy theory of the 12-year-oid boy’s killing – that it was staged, a hoax perpetrated by Palestinians to blacken Israel’s name. This theory, promoted most avidly by Boston University Prof. Richard Landes and French media analyst Philippe Karsenty, depends on a view of Palestinians being superhumanly clever and fiendish, and a view of reality that comes from the movies. The mentality here is essentially the same one that drives the 9/11 “truthers,” the anti-Obama “birthers,” those who say the Shin Bet assassinated Rabin, or those who say ultra-rightists assassinated JFK – a fevered imagination activated by political antagonism that knows no bounds. In the right-wing conspiracy theories of the al-Dura shooting, the boundless antagonism goes out to the Palestinians and their supporters.

This week, the State of Israel officially joined the movement. Its report on the al-Dura affair adopts the conspiracy theory in full. (To be precise, it adopts the relatively “restrained” conspiracy theory – that the al-Duras were never shot. The other, wholly unrestrained conspiracy theory in circulation holds that the Palestinians killed the boy deliberately to create a martyr.) The report was commissioned last September by Netanyahu and current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, the “investigative” committee was headed by Yossi Kuperwasser, the former director-general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and staffed by officials in the Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, IDF Spokesman’s Office and Israel Police. The panel’s conclusions were pronounced by Netanyahu to be “the truth.” This is the State of Israel talking.

The most fitting adjective I can think of for the report, and for the thinking behind it, is “creepy.” The government suggests that such a line-up (whose members aren’t even named) is somehow going to be fair or objective; this is how the State of Israel now goes after the truth. There are several prominent American and French journalists who investigated the al-Dura shooting, and who are entirely unconvinced that it was staged – but they are not mentioned in this report. The possibility that what appears to have happened in September 2000 actually happened – that Muhammad al-Dura was shot to death and his father Jamal badly wounded, that the boy’s death was confirmed in detail by doctors at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, that he was buried in Gaza, that his father was treated for severe gunshot wounds at Shifa and afterward at a Jordanian hospital – is not even considered. The report just spins this outlandish hoax narrative, with very little explanation of where all the “facts” came from, while citing only people who back up the story and never anyone who disputes it. The Kuperwasser Committee report is a product of the echo chamber in which Israel and its most zealous overseas supporters live.

I’m not going to recap the whole al-Dura controversy; here’s a long op-ed I wrote about it for The Jerusalem Post in 2008. (The only update I have is that one of the anti-hoax investigative journalists I cite, German documentary filmmaker Esther Schapira, evidently has since gone over to the conspiracy camp.) But I want to mention a few things that aren’t mentioned in the new Israeli report that I think illustrate its dishonesty and that of the movement it grew out of, and which show why the claim that the al-Dura shooting was staged is plain garbage.

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Referring to the original, exclusive news report of the shooting broadcast by France 2 television, the Kuperwasser Committee states:

Contrary to the report’s claim that the boy was killed, the committee’s review of the raw footage showed that in the final scenes, which were not broadcast by France 2, the boy is seen to be alive.

This is one of the key claims of the conspiracy theorists: that in the unedited video of the “alleged” shooting, the last you see of Muhammad al-Dura is him lifting his arm, moving his head and looking into the distance, something he obviously couldn’t do if he was dead. The problem is that this is not true: the last you see of Muhammad al-Dura in the unedited video – after he lifts his arm, moves his head and looks into the distance – is him drooping little by little into his father’s lap, which he might well have done if he was dead, and which certainly is no evidence that he was alive. This segment of the video is all over YouTube: here’s one copy. Watch the last seconds, after the boy lifts his arm. Somehow the Kuperwasser Committee didn’t mention this.

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Another familiar “proof” of the hoax cited by the Kuperwasser Committee is that “the injuries and scars presented by Jamal [al-Dura, Muhammad's father] as having been inflicted during the incident were actually the result of his having been assaulted in 1992 by Palestinians wielding knives and axes …” This revelation was supplied by Dr. Yehuda David, a hand surgeon at Israel’s Tel Hashomer hospital who treated Jamal for those earlier injuries in 1994. His statement to the committee says the Jordanian hospital medical reports on Jamal “support my assertion that the paralysis of Mr. Al-Durrah’s right hand was not a result of an injury allegedly suffered at the Netzarim junction several days before, as he claimed, but had been caused by the earlier injuries which I had treated in 1994.” (Underlined in the original.)

When a French appeals court in 2012 overturned David’s conviction for libel in a suit brought against him by al-Dura, Netanyahu said he had “proved Israel’s righteousness to the world,” and assured him the state would foot his legal expenses. (The appeals court did not find that David’s account was accurate, only that he’d given it in “good faith”; meanwhile, a French journalist who used David’s account to denounce al-Dura, and who was included in the original libel suit, was ordered to pay al-Dura 6,000 euros.)

Shortly after David’s victory in court and blessing from Netanyahu, Dr. Rafi Walden, deputy director of Tel Hashomer Hospital  and co-chairperson of Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, wrote an op-ed in Haaretz about Jamal al-Dura’s injuries and David’s claims.

My sole intention is to address testimony provided by Dr. David, who has been praised by the prime minister for having acted with integrity and persistence to defend the reputation of the state of Israel. The facts are completely different. After the incident in 2000, Jamal al-Dura was treated in Gaza, and transported the next day to Amman’s King Hussein Hospital. His entire medical file has been relayed to me; it is 50 pages in length, and features pictures of the wounds and x-rays.

Dr. David claimed it was indisputable that the wounds were identical to ones treated eight years previously. The fact is that the medical documentation compiled in Amman shows completely different wounds: there is a gunshot wound in the right wrist, a shattered forearm bone, multiple fragment wounds in a palm, gunshot wounds in the right thigh, a fractured pelvis, an exit wound in the buttocks, a tear in the main nerve of the right thigh, tears in the main groin arteries and veins, and two gunshot wounds in the left lower leg.

Diagnoses in this file also provide detailed documentation of the 1992 wounds, including a paralyzed nerve in the right hand which was, in fact, treated by Dr. David. Photographs, x-rays, surgery reports, expert consultation reports and the rest of the data compiled in this medical file corroborate the diagnoses. I regretfully state that the statements made by my colleague, formulated as though “there isn’t a shadow of doubt,” are not well founded.

But Walden, a very well-known figure in Israel (he’s also Shimon Peres’ son-in-law), was not consulted by the Kuperwasser Committee, which left David’s statement, like all the other “factual information” in its report, to stand unchallenged.

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Probably the most vital contributor to the al-Dura conspiracy theory has been Nahum Shahaf, a prominent Israeli physicist, engineer and developer of defense technology. In an April profile of him in the Times of Israel, he is described taking a phone call from Kuperwasser to discuss the progress of the libel suit against Karsenty. Shahaf’s reconstructions of the shooting scene at Netzarim Junction and his examination of videos from the incident are bedrock material for the movement. His so-called findings are all over the Kuperwasser report, for instance his discovery that what appears in the France 2 video to be blood on Muhammad al-Dura’s stomach is actually a “red rag” the boy is holding there so it will look like blood (!!!). Shahaf has been interviewed in the media since the report came out; he’s the go-to guy in Israel on al-Dura hoax theory. Yet his name is not mentioned in the committee’s report; a look at the Hebrew Wikipedia, which cites some of his other “findings” with links to his blog, might explain that:

He also investigates the Rabin assassination, claiming that the photo of the “Shir Hashalom” lyric sheet stained with Rabin’s blood was faked, and he supports the conspiracy theory of the murder…

Here is what Shahaf had to say about the 2008 Na’alin shooting affair, in which an IDF battalion commander held a blindfolded, bound Palestinian while a soldier shot him in the toe from close range, and which was filmed by a Palestinian resident with a camera provided by B’Tselem:

In October 2010, prior to the verdict in the Na’alin shooting affair, Channel 10 aired a report that featured Shahaf’s alleged evidence that the film published by B’Tselem, and which served as key evidence in the trial of the soldier who did the shooting and of the battalion commander, had important scenes edited out, and that the Palestinian was not hit at all by the rubber bullet fired by the soldier.

The shooter and the battalion commander were convicted in court and a police forensics expert testified that the film was authentic and undoctored. This, of course, hasn’t affected Shahaf’s status as the Sherlock Holmes of the al-Dura conspiracy movement, the fountainhead of so much of the State of Israel’s “proof” that it was all staged.

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When individuals buy into this theory, it’s one thing; when official Israel buys into it too, it’s, well, creepy. These people are not stupid (neither, by any means, is Shahaf, nor many other people in the movement), but they’ve been stupefied by their radical antagonism toward the Palestinians and anybody else who goes against Israel, and so they’ve come to believe in demonstrable absurdities. Look at the original video of the shooting by France 2′s Charles Enderlin: at the beginning you see bullets hitting the wall a couple of feet from the al-Duras. Did father and son agree to sit still for such a “staging”?

Think about it: the France 2 cameraman who shot the footage in Gaza, Talal Abu Rahme, couldn’t have known beforehand the extraordinary effect his footage would have – yet according to the Kuperwasser Committee and Co., this was a pre-ordained plot between the cameraman and the al-Duras. In the middle of a crossfire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians, Abu Rahme and the al-Duras were faking it – there were no real bullets, no real fear, no real blood, no real wounds, no real death. As if a Palestinian cameraman in Gaza on the second day of the intifada had no hope of getting footage that would inspire hatred of Israel, and so he had to make it up.

Think about it: if Mohammed and Jamal al-Dura were never shot, that it was all a hoax, how many people would have to be covering it up all this time? Start with the al-Dura family, then the people near the scene of the shooting, at least some of the people at the funeral, plus doctors and nurses at the Gaza hospital and the Amman hospital, plus the Jordanian ambassador to Israel who brought Jamal al-Dura to Amman for treatment – and that’s just off the top of my head. Each and every one of them would have had to keep this incredible secret for 13 years. Yet with all the legions of Palestinian collaborators Israel has managed to conscript over the years despite the danger to their lives, not one Palestinian has ever been found to corroborate the al-Dura conspiracy theory.

These are just some of the inconvenient details that have to be ignored to believe that the al-Dura killing was a hoax – and official Israel, starting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, believes it.

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The ironic thing, though, is that the Kuperwasser Committee’s minimal finding – that there’s no proof Israeli soldiers shot the al-Duras – is absolutely true. What’s more, the same prominent foreign journalists who were wholly unmoved by the hoax theory – American James Fallows and Frenchmen Denis Jeambar and Daniel Leconte, as well as Israeli communications expert Gabriel Weimann – were also thoroughly unconvinced by France 2’s claim that Israeli soldiers had fired the bullets that hit the father and son. Because of the angles and obstacles on the impromptu battlefield, they all concluded it was much more likely that the al-Duras had been shot accidentally by Palestinian gunmen in the crossfire.

That’s also the explanation I believe. On the basis of the known facts (as opposed to “facts”), that’s the most reasonable explanation, the easiest to accept – and it clears Israel of the terrible, almost certainly false accusation that its soldiers deliberately, demonically gunned down a frantic 12-year-old boy trying to hide behind his father, who was pleading vainly for the shooting to stop.

So why couldn’t Netanyahu and the Kuperwasser Committee defend Israel with a simple, plausible explanation, instead of this bizarre, through-the-looking-glass bullshit? Because as keepers of the consensus in 21st century Israel, they are naturally vulnerable to the al-Dura conspiracy theory. Finally, all you have to do to believe it is believe that Palestinians – doctors, patients, ambassadors, whoever – will tell any lie, no matter how gargantuan, to score a point against Israel, and that they are capable of performing uncanny feats to that end. And that’s what the defenders of Israel believe – about Palestinians and the rest of the neighbors, too. Which is why they so readily drank the Kool Aid on the al-Dura affair.

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    1. Elihu

      The public is being asked to do only one thing. Look critically at the evidence. All of the evidence. France2 said a boy was targeted by Israeli fire and killed. However, at the point in the broadcast that the boy is declared dead by people near the cameraman (yelling “mat al walad!!”) the boy is very much alive and shows no signs of having even been hit. Moreover, France2 edited out the final frames of the scene where the boy is peering out from under his arm directly at the camera. These are not the movements of a boy hit by a round that “exploded his stomach” per the later testimony of the cameraman shooting the scene.

      The boy and father were supposedly hit by a total of 15 high velocity rounds – (the father by 12 and the boy by 3) -These were explosive bullets per the cameraman who shot the scene, no less. If that were remotely true, the father and son should have looked like Swiss cheese at the end of the film. – Indeed, the Palestinian pathologist who claimed to autopsy the boy said he sustained wounds that shredded major blood vessels and left a large exit wound in the boys’ back -. The medical report from Amman regarding the father says: “there is a gunshot wound in the right wrist, a shattered forearm bone, multiple fragment wounds in a palm, gunshot wounds in the right thigh, a fractured pelvis, an exit wound in the buttocks, a tear in the main nerve of the right thigh, tears in the main groin arteries and veins, and two gunshot wounds in the left lower leg.”

      However, the film reveals that there is not even a drop of blood on the wall behind the Al Durahs nor a single drop anywhere on the father.

      A close evaluation of the footage shows clearly that the small red spot on the boy is actually a red handkerchief clutched in his hand.

      The France2 cameraman claimed the boy bled out for 17 minutes- but the final frames of Abu Rahma’s raw footage -showing an unrelated subsequent ambulance evacuation – shows clearly the barrel and the ground near it after the boy and father are gone – and again, there is _ no_ blood.

      Footage obtained from Reuters and AP cameramen on scene after the supposed shooting also confirms not a drop of blood by the barrel or on the wall. What are the chances? 15 high-velocity bullet wounds and no blood.

      Who’s the conspiracy theorist, now?

      This was not a fiendish, brilliant fake – it was a terrible one, on the order of the films Ed Wood used to produce. The Al Durah sequence even has an empty tripod in the left hand side of the scene. Ed wood would be proud. only reason this footage with its narrative got _any_ play was because of France2′s utter credulity in spreading it around the world before checking the tape – and adding a voiceover suggested to its viewers what they were supposed to be “seeing”.

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    2. I think there is another reason why the conspiracy theorizing in the al-Dura case attained the heights that it did. Literally thousands of Palestinian children have died in the past decade or so alone, but they were faceless. In that footage you see one terrified kid. It’s easy enough to brush the others to one side – oh, they were collateral, sad but necessary, militants were hiding in their cellars, militants were hiding in their stairwells, militants were hiding in their fridges, the Arabs just need to learn to love their children more than they hate us, it couldn’t be helped, none of it can be helped. Muhammad’s death was a reminder of what war looks like, similar to the reminder that Izzeldin Abuelaish gave after his daughters were slaughtered and he called Shlomi Eldar sobbing – and there the same weak conspiratorial excuses started to surface (“There must have been Hamasniks on the roof”). Fortunately this conspiracy theory never gained any currency, but had the moment of the Abuelaish girls’ deaths been caught on camera, I think it would have done. When you are hawking such aggressive policies on ‘security and defence’ it is necessary to put as much distance as possible between yourself and such visceral reminders of how these policies look – even if that does mean insisting that, like Elvis, Muhammad al-Dura is alive and well and working in a chip shop in Norwich.

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      • Vicky, not even the Palestinian NGOs claim “Literally thousands of children dead…” What does it do for you to make up these fantasies that demonize Israeli troops as child-killers. Al Durah is not a symbol of all the children killed, he’s a symbol of how incompetent (and that’s a nice way to put it) our journalists are, and how many children Israel was accused of killing and didn’t. We’ll never know how many Palestinian kids were killed, but i can guarantee you, it’s an infinitesimal fraction of the number of Israeli kids that would have been killed had the Palestinians the military superiority over us that we now have over them.

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        • Immediately after I posted that comment, I wrote this:

          “Just to correct what I wrote about the death toll above, that should read ‘thousands of Palestinians’, not children specifically. The death toll for minors from that time period is roughly 1600, for Palestinians as a whole it’s close on 7000 (using the more conservative figures available).”

          It was a typo – I was thinking about the overall number of Palestinians killed, but I had Muhammad al-Durra in my head, so I wrote children. For some reason my correction didn’t nest itself in this comment thread, and now it’s all the way down at the bottom of the page.

          It is a fact that the Palestinian civilian death toll since just before the Second Intifada is at least six times greater than the Israeli civilian death toll (and if we take into account deaths from earlier years, the disparity is far greater than that). Saying that this is ‘only a fraction’ of the number of Israelis who would have died had Palestinians possessed military superiority is a weak excuse – it relies on a hypothetical, and even if we supposed that the hypothetical were absolutely true, it still couldn’t justify all this loss of life. It must also be remembered that these figures only take into account Palestinians who die from bombs and bullet wounds and not those who, like my boss’s uncle, die of treatable illness because movement restrictions meant they couldn’t access the right medical care. Medical Aid to Palestinians is currently extremely concerned about the welfare of cancer patients in need of regular chemotherapy, as their treatment schedules (which have to be precise) have been getting disrupted by permit denials or permits being issued too late (even though the recipients have travelled before without problems). When you start to realise that the death toll goes beyond gunfire and bombardments, the number of dead becomes an even more alarming thought. No one can turn round and excuse this by saying, “Well, hypothetically, they might have done worse to us if they had the chance.”

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        • Empiricon

          “We’ll never know how many Palestinian kids were killed, but I can guarantee you, it’s an infinitesimal fraction of the number of Israeli kids that would have been killed had the Palestinians the military superiority over us that we now have over them.”

          Because better “them” dead in the real world than “us” dead in the paranoid fantasy world used to rationalize our actions. No better proof that Zionism is a state of (diseased) mind.

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          • Empiricon

            I should have said “Zionism has become” rather than “is”. Can’t say it was always thus, but it has come to this.

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    3. XYZ

      Larry, you probably served in the IDF. Do you believe soldiers would deliberately target the boy and his father?

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      • Aaron Gross

        @XYZ, did you read what Larry Derfner wrote?

        …[other journalists] all concluded it was much more likely that the al-Duras had been shot accidentally by Palestinian gunmen in the crossfire.

        That’s also the explanation I believe. On the basis of the known facts (as opposed to “facts”), that’s the most reasonable explanation, the easiest to accept – and it clears Israel of the terrible, almost certainly false accusation that its soldiers deliberately, demonically gunned down a frantic 12-year-old boy….

        I’m sure Larry Derfner would have corrected you if I hadn’t, but I wanted to comment on this because recently you’ve misread two of the (very few) fair-minded +972 contributors, Derfner and Sheizaf. You’ve attributed objectionable things to them when really they were being fair and generous. You and I are “on the same side,” so maybe that’s why it kind of bothers me.

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      • XYZ, I wrote in the post that I believe that the probable explanation is that the al-Duras were shot accidentally by Palestinians in the crossfire, and that the accusation that IDF soldiers deliberately shot the al-Duras was “almost certainly false.” And I say that despite having served in the IDF. (That’s supposed to be a joke.)

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      • Did you read Larry’s article in full? He says that he does not believe the soldiers deliberately killed Muhammed, but rather that they were caught in the cross-fire accidentally.

        The logic behind your question is faulty. Just five minutes ago I was reading a newspaper article about a man in the UK on trial for murdering a five-year-old girl. How many cases of brutal murder happen each year? They are committed by doctors, shopkeepers, post office workers. Do you honestly suppose that soldiers are exempt, and there are no outright murderers in uniform? The soldier who murdered thirteen-year-old Iman al-Hams strode over to her body as she lay dying on the ground and discharged the contents of his magazine into her body to ‘confirm the kill’. Saying ‘Larry, you were probably soldier, do you believe that soldiers would deliberately target the boy and his father?’ is emotive reasoning. The fact that Larry may not have witnessed or participated in the deliberate targeting of children does not mean there are no soldiers who do these things – and get away with it, as Iman’s killer eventually did.

        Ultimately I don’t think it is possible to know whose fire killed Muhammad, and without being clairvoyant, it is certainly impossible to know the motive of the killer. An accident does sound the most plausible explanation in this particular case. But this does not mean that deliberate killings never happen. Nor does it excuse the Israeli government’s use of outlandish claims in order to distance itself as far as possible from the image of that boy. It also doesn’t mitigate the disturbing nature of all military violence, which holds life so cheaply that such accidents are expected and treated as par for the course.

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        • Joe

          I think it is a reasonable question: would the IDF deliberately target an unarmed child. In this case, maybe not – the image became axiomatic to the extent that the truth became irrelevant – but in the general case, yes. Of course, Palestinian militants have as well. Shame on everyone involved.

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      • I served in the IDF as well. The answer, unfortunately, is yes. Not on normal days. On battle days, yes.

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    4. Just to correct what I wrote about the death toll above, that should read ‘thousands of Palestinians’, not children specifically. The death toll for minors from that time period is roughly 1600, for Palestinians as a whole it’s close on 7000 (using the more conservative figures available).

      Reply to Comment
    5. Aaron Gross

      The platitude you hear from liberals is that the way to counter a lie – in this case, the lie that the IDF murdered Muhammad al-Dura – is with the truth.

      I wish that were so, but it isn’t. Very often, the best way to counter a lie is with another lie.

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    6. Danny

      To me, this report looks like Israel’s way of sweeping this affair under the rug and wiping its hands of it. The report is complete B.S. and Israel knows it, but to admit that it *may* have been culpable in the death of this boy would have been too much of a concession to grant the Palestinians. Zero-sum-game mentality at it worst.

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    7. XYZ

      The irony is that the Palestinian armed groups all deliberately target Israeli civilians, including chldren, and they are honored for this by the official Palestinian leadership, both HAMAS and FATAH, even by Mr Peace Partner Abbas himself. Why are we beating ourselves over the head with this anyway? Are we supposed to be better than them, or something?

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      • Danny

        “Are we supposed to be better than them, or something?”

        Hasn’t that been Israel’s claim since time immemorial – that we are somehow better, smarter and certainly more moral than the Arabs?

        I guess in the Netanyahu era, no such pretense is kept, probably because it has become so painfully obvious that we are *NOT* any better than they are.

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      • When the visiting team of UK jurists compiled their report on children in military custody, a military prosecutor informed them that every child is to be treated as ‘a potential terrorist’.

        Palestinian armed factions who targeted civilians excused the killings on the grounds that there is conscription in Israel. Adults who died would have been soldiers once, and children who died would probably grow up to be soldiers too, enforcing the same regime and the same policies. This reasoning is no different from the justification underpinning the army’s treatment of Palestinian kids (apart from being statistically a lot more sound – far more Israeli high school kids become occupying soldiers than Palestinian kids become militants). It’s sick cruel reasoning, which requires you to stop seeing people for who they are and to start seeing them only for what they represent in your own mind. Once you’ve seen that it’s sick and it’s cruel, ‘but they do it too – are we supposed to be better?’ stops being a reason not to act. Most people are able to find excuses for the stuff they do wrong, no matter how horrible it is. The question is not, “Don’t other people do it too?” (yes, obviously they do) but, “Do I want to do it too?”

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      • Empiricon

        At least Palestinians admit the fact that they target civilians with terrorism. Israel shoots kids (and adults) for walking in the wrong area, but Israel claims that’s not “terror” that’s “defense.” Israel bombs civilian targets like schools, hospitals and homes but that’s not terror because Israel claims “terrorists” were nearby. Israel rains white phosphorous on civilians but that’s not terror because Israel claims Willie Pete isn’t a weapon, it’s just used for smokescreens.

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    8. rsgengland

      I have read quite a number of reports over the years on this subject, but regrettably did not save any.
      The one that struck me most, went into detail about the relative positions of the Israeli lookout post, and the Palestinians.
      This report seemed to show that the angle of fire from the Israeli position was so oblique as to make the hitting of the boy almost impossible [nothing is ever absolute].
      The fact that the Israeli Authorities have taken so long to respond, neither proves or disproves this event.
      Israeli officials should be investigated for their tardy response to this episode, and prosecuted or dismissed for their stupidity in not taking seriously, the damage this has done to Israel.
      The Israeli Hasbara files are overflowing with evidence of incompetence and indifference in investigating serious issues like this, where there is compelling evidence to challenge the anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian discourse.

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      • Oriol2

        “Israeli officials should be investigated for their tardy response to this episode, and prosecuted or dismissed for their stupidity in not taking seriously, the damage this has done to Israel.”
        They didn’t take seriously the damage this has done to Israel. Yeah, OK. Perhaps they could also take seriously the death of an innocent child. I won’t take sides in this affair. Mohammed Al-Durrah could have been killed by an Israeli bullet, intentionally or not, or by a Palestinian one. But really, your comment is an example of what is wrong, not just with Israel, but with the whole West.

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    9. For a while now, I’ve been asking (about this report), “Why now?” What’s the urgency? Stave off the ICC?

      Now it appears that a possible purpose is to provide “evidence” in a libel case outside Israel. OK, that’s a lot better reason than staving off ICC, which will be looking (first) at Mavi Marmara,

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    10. aristeides

      The last thing Israel needs is dredging up the al-Dura story again. Only the Kool-Aide addicts are going to parse this as “proving Israel’s righteousness to the world.”

      The rest of us see a terrified father shielding his young son from gunfire, and what we ask is “Why didn’t they stop shooting? Why didn’t any of them stop shooting?”

      No righteousness in that scene, none at all.

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      • jjj

        Indeed, why didn’t they stop shooting?
        Are you referring to the Palestinian shooters?

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        • directrob

          Stupid question, “any of them” clearly means everybody shooting, Israeli and Palestine.

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    11. David

      What’s another gallon of Kool Aid to Israel and its supporters? They believe that Israel was uninhibited prior to its inception and that whatever people that were there were just nomadic shepherds. And then that these same people were not ethnically cleansed etc. Menachem Begin was never a terrorist, the attack on the USS Liberty was a mistake. So quick to demonize others but who wants to be a Moser?

      Reply to Comment
    12. Elihu

      Amazing. I see that not a single commenter has bothered to address the simple evidentiary question I raised at the beginning of this thread. I guess name-calling is more fun. If people actually pay attention to hard facts instead of mere allegations, we might all be a tad better off.

      That includes looking at why there are tragically lots of Gazan kids in harm’s way. It could because they are raised in a culture that glorifies them most when they are cannon fodder. . Hamas’ and Fatah’s long-standing strategy of enlisting child soldiers, (Hamas’ is on proud display from minute 40 on in the video documentary here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohSO_MGNw1Q&feature=related)

      Reply to Comment
      • There are plenty of websites out there claiming to prove, in meticulous detail, with reference to physics, that the Twin Towers didn’t fall because of an aircraft collision. I would not take the trouble to refute those conspiracy theories point by point either. What interests me most here is people’s motivations for taking the stances that they do – e.g. crying crocodile tears for Gazan children. After investigation, the Coalition to the Stop the Use of Child Soldiers reported that this is not a systemic or widespread practice in Palestine, but this will not deter certain people from claiming that it is – it offers you a way to comfortably maintain your political stance without appearing like someone who condones child killings.

        Reply to Comment
        • Elihu

          I’m not making an elaborate argument based on theoretical physics. I have made one simple point. Use your eyes and evaluate the claim. Given the wounds the parties are claimed to have suffered they should have been swiss cheese by the end of the video. There is no blood on the wall, the barrel or the father (who allegedly took 12 high velcity bullets) . I’m not talking about causation (although that is also an issue even if we were to grant any credence to the claims of injury that remain unsupported by the video provided by France2) I’m talking about the event itself. Here, a murder accusation was made -without any credible evidence. I’m not looking for graceful exit- I’m looking for simple, truthful engagement with the all evidence as it is. I have reviewed the video in fine detail along with the rushes revealed to the French Court. I have extensive video testimony from the cameraman, also from Talal Abu Rahma, also testimony from the pathologist who autopsied the body, the doctor who admitted the body to Shifa hospital (hours _before_ the shooting took place, I might add) and so on. Just use your own eyes and ears to see if the evidence actually proves the narrative you have been fed. This is not a conspiracy – any conspiracy worthy of the name would have been much better organized. Take a serious look at the site Aldurah.com over the next couple of weeks now under construction. The evidence is all going up with analysis. But I have already asked the simplest question that must be addressed.

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        • Elihu

          It’s also important to make two other points you are citing a committees conclusion that incorporates its subjective judgment about the term “systematic” as a fact. The report dealt with the PA, not Hamas, which runs Gaza and conflates absence of proof with proof of absence. They are not identical. Also the Wikipedia article that references the report you cited notes dozens of specific instances where children were recruited and deployed as suicide bombers (and hundreds more who are alleged to have been). Also, According to the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, in the al-Aqsa Intifada, children were used as “messengers and couriers, and in some cases as fighters and suicide bombers in attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians” durimng the al-Aqsa Intifada. Fatah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have all been implicated in involving children in this way. I’m not sure why you characterize my reaction to such horror as “crocodile tears”. I think it is tragic that children are used this way. Denying that they are – objecting to Israel’s methods for protecting its own citizens from the results of this phenomenon (whether you want to see it as “systematic” or not it is real and dangerous) without proposing some other effective remedy seems unfair. I don’t know whether you have ever seen the result of a child suicide bombers “successful” recruitment. I have.

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          • Elihu, about the blood, the wounds to Jamal were in his lower body, which is prone, so you wouldn’t necessarily see the bullet holes/blood. Muhammad was shot below his chest and in his abdomen, and you see what appears to be blood there as he’s lying on his father’s lap. In the close-up that I’ve seen on Landes’s site, what you folks call a red cloth seems as just as likely to be, sorry for being so sickening, but a part of the boy’s insides. As for the lack of blood on the ground, is there any testimony from a named human being who says he was there immediately after they were evacuated and he saw no blood on the ground?

            Reply to Comment
          • Elihu, I work with traumatised children and specialise in the rehabilitation of kids who have been abused, which in this context would include children who have been child soldiers. I am very familiar with the criteria used by CSUCS to determine what constitutes child soldiering (they use a very broad definition that includes the use of children in auxiliary roles such as cooks and messengers – a child does not have to be given a weapon to qualify as a soldier) and the investigation they did in Palestine. They investigated the use of children throughout the region, by all Palestinian paramilitary factions and by the Israeli army. Whenever they investigate, they positively expect to find some incidents of child soldiering; abuse of children is a feature of conflict. What they look for in their investigations is evidence that it is systemic as opposed to sporadic. Thankfully they did not find that in the case of Palestine/Israel, and the findings they emerge with are similar to the picture we get through rehabilitative work with youngsters.

            I’ve encountered far too many people (online and offline) who sigh over the use of Palestinian children by paramilitary groups and overstate its incidence…before going on to defend the way in which minors are treated in army custody and other occupation policies that directly affect children. Their definition of what constitutes child abuses alters depending on who the perpetrator is, so any tears they have really are crocodile. I was wrong to lump you in with them, as I haven’t seen you explicitly defend any of those policies or attacks. I just react immediately and probably too hotly to anything that looks like that attitude. I apologise for an unfair judgment.

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    13. Richard

      There’s something bizarre and inconsistent about the way that this article ranks the different al Durah theories in terms of plausibility. We’re supposed to think that, going from least to most plausible, the explanations are that:
      1. boy was deliberately killed by Palestinians
      2. boy was not killed at all
      3. boy was accidentally killed by Palestinians
      4. boy was killed by Israelis.
      I am very sympathetic to the argument that conspiracies involving large numbers of people are very improbable, and that probably applies here in terms of refuting the idea that father al Durah was never shot. But it doesn’t make sense to conclude that al Durah was killed accidentally by Palestinians, who would have had to shoot completely away from the Israeli position to hit the wall where father and son were sitting, and then say that a purposeful killing is the strongest form of the conspiracy. If one Palestinian gunman had decided to actually shoot at father and son by tilting his rifle down a bit, this turns the mostly likely explanation into the worst conspiracy theory? And wouldn’t it take a pretty large cover up to conceal the fact that Palestinians were shooting in the direction of the wall and not at soldiers? If this happened, as Larry believes, a lot of witnesses would have had to keep quiet about it as well. There was a crowd, and AK-47′s are not exactly hard to notice. Larry’s position seems slightly more likely than the idea that al Durah never died, but not so much more likely that the new Israeli position on the matter is “creepy” or a question of “Kool Aid.” There are a lot of inconsistencies in this article, and there’s something weird about the fact that Larry’s real opinion, which is much closer to the Landes claim than he seems to admit at first, is buried at the end of the piece.

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    14. [...] to fight it, battling France 2 TV, the journalist Charles Enderlin, Reporters Without Borders and anyone else off the kool aid. I’m usually not one to drop spoilers, but here it goes: In his version, the kid lives! [...]

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    15. dickerson3870

      RE: “Finally, all you have to do to believe it [i.e., that it was staged] is believe that Palestinians – doctors, patients, ambassadors, whoever – will tell any lie, no matter how gargantuan, to score a point against Israel, and that they are capable of performing uncanny logistical feats to that end.” ~ Derfner

      MY COMMENT: And, ‘psychological projection’ is just what the doctor (Freud) ordered ! ! ! Israel’s über partisans merely “project” their own attributes onto the Palestinians.

      FROM WIKIPEDIA [Psychological projection]:
      [EXCERPTS] Psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person unconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, such as to other people. . .
      . . . The theory was developed by Sigmund Freud – in his letters to Wilhelm Fliess, “‘Draft H’ deals with projection as a mechanism of defence” – and further refined by his daughter Anna Freud; for this reason, it is sometimes referred to as Freudian Projection.
      According to Sigmund Freud, projection is a psychological defense mechanism whereby one “projects” one’s own undesirable thoughts, motivations, desires, and feelings onto someone else. ‘Emotions or excitations which the ego tries to ward off are “split out” and then felt as being outside the ego…perceived in another person’.[4] It is a common process.[5] . . .
      . . . In one example of the process, a person might have thoughts of infidelity with respect to a spouse or other partner. Instead of dealing with these undesirable thoughts consciously, the subject unconsciously projects these feelings onto the other person, and begins to think that the other has thoughts of infidelity and that the other may be having an affair. In this way, the subject may obtain ‘acquittal by his conscience – if he projects his own impulses to faithlessness on to the partner to whom he owes faith’.[7] . . .
      . . . Projection can also be established as a means of obtaining or justifying certain actions that would normally be found atrocious or heinous. This often means projecting false accusations, information, etc., onto an individual for the sole purpose of maintaining a self-created illusion. . .
      ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

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    16. asherpat

      Larry Derfner writes: “(The only update I have is that one of the anti-hoax investigative journalists I cite, German documentary filmmaker Esther Schapira, evidently has since gone over to the conspiracy camp.)”

      Can it be that this “investigative journalist” has actually “investigated” the issue and found it a hoax?

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    17. Ben Alofs

      Georg Haffner and Esther Schapira obviously sympathise with Landis and Karsenty, but express themselves more guardedly in their interesting documentary. They do not exclude that the shooting was not staged, but present plenty of the conspiracy theories and their proponents. What I find quite extraordinary is that their own images in their documentaries clearly contradict the conspiracy theories: there is the clearly wide angle, shown by the cameraman that contradicts the claims that the gunfire could not have come from the Israeli position.
      Landis’s claim that the last image we see is of Mohammed moving is contradicted by the footage of Mohammed’s lifeless body on a hospital trolley receiving half hearted chest compressions. There is a large abdominal wound.
      There is footage of the pathologists explaining Mohammed’s wounds. He had two fatal abdominal wounds and his guts spilled out.
      Where Haffner and Schapira have indeed gone over to the conspiracy theorists is when they claim that there must be two boys: one was Rami and the other one was Mohammed. Not only two boys killed on the same day, while the hospital says that there was only one boy, but also two boys with identical injuries: large abdominal wounds. Haffner and Schapira base their claim on the two boys on two premises: that of incompatible timing and the opinion of a German facial comparison’s expert, who was given tv images of Mohammed al-Dura and was asked to compare them. His conclusion was that the boy on the hospital trolley was not the same as the boy who was examined by the hospital pathologist and the boy was carried on his grave.
      We are asked to believe that there were in fact two boys: Rami and Mohammed, but only one boy could be produced.
      It would be easy to settle this question. DNA tests will show if the boy in the grave is Jamal’s son and this will then kill of the ludicrous conspiracy theories that there were two boys, Rami and Mohammed. It is much more likely that people made mistakes in remembering correct times (the documentary was made years after the event) and that the quality of the material the German scientist had to work with was not great. After Mohammed was declared dead and his body was stripped for autopsy, that in itself could have changed markings on the face, that the scientist was using in trying to compare the photographs.
      That Larry says, that Haffner and Schapira have gone over to the conspiracy theorists must be based on them attending Karsenty’s libel trial and what they tell the interviewer: they obviously want to believe Karsenty. You can see the interviews at Karsenty’s website.

      Reply to Comment
      • directrob

        It is sad that international press reported the Israeli point of view and not Larry’s and your replies.

        Reply to Comment
    18. Y Hui

      IDF is a terrorist force involved in mass murder. Deliberate and destructive in the name of defending Israel.

      Hamas are shit too. But in contrast with cheap rockets that can barely create a hole on the wall, the atrocity delivered by the IDF equals major monstrosity.

      Reply to Comment
    19. The Israeli report is speculation. No facts.

      Speculation is not evidence.

      People who believe speculation as fact are fools.

      The FACT that people who have been fatally shot do not necessarily die or stop moving immediately, has of course been conveniently ignored.

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