ZOA Calls for Israel Commentary on Netzarim Junction Affair

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is calling for the state of Israel to hold a press conference to address a new investigation into what they say is a libelous past report on a Palestinian youth shooting. According to the report, when 12 year old Muhammad al-Dura was portrayed by France-2 Television as having been killed by Israeli forces at the now notorious Netzarim Junction back in 2000, the boy was neither killed nor injured. Needless to say, the back and forth over this emotionally charged incident has been unending and critical to Israeli-Arab relations for years. While it is unclear whether or not the ZOA call will be good or bad for future relations, the reporting of their call is toward the truth of Netzarim Junction.

A world, a people, outraged by reporting of an incident - courtesy Al Durah Project

A world, a people, outraged by reporting of an incident – courtesy Al Durah Project

Also according to the report from the ZOA, the organization also supports Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, where filing criminal charges versus the France-2 journalists are concerned. As for the ZOA, the organization is one of the oldest and largest Jewish organizations in the world. Board members of the org include such distinguished executives as; Sheldon Adelson of Sands Corp., the renowned Dr. Michael Goldblatt, and Ronn Torossian of New York PR fame.

The investigative inquiry by the Israelis was commissioned by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, and headed by Brigadier- General (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, the former head of the Research and Analysis Division of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Military Intelligence Directorate, After some years of studying the evidence, the inquiry group came to a final determination. 

Diagram of Muhammad al-Durrah incident

Wikipedia Diagram -Talal Abu Rahma, the France 2 cameraman, included this diagram in an affidavit he swore in October 2000 in the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza

Al-Dura was allegedly killed by IDF fire at the Netzarim Junction (see diagram) during a September 2000 firefight. In news reports, which were obviously replicated many times worldwide at the time. The video footage, was shot by Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahma who was working for France-2, In that video the alleged victim was shown as a terrified young boy, but there was no actual footage of the young man being shot. In the aftermath of the gun battle the child was shown apparently shot dead in the street. However, a close examination reveals there was absolutely no sign of blood on the child in the video, and shockingly the boy’s arm and leg are filmed moving after the supposed killing.France 2’s Charles Enderlin made the report, but was not actually present at the time of the incident. Over time, this incident has been accepted as verifiable fact, when the reverse seems obviously true. 

Back then Israel never denied its forces had hit Dura, but the subsequent Israeli Orr Commission concluded that al-Dura had not been hit by Israel fire at al. Now, after further investigation, General Kuperwasser has confirmed the committee’s conclusion that al-Dura had not been hurt at all and that the video clip had indeed been staged.

“The committee was comprised of numerous specialists from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, as well as other academic institutions. The committee also collected information from physicist Nahum Shahaf, who used angles and rate of fire to prove that the scene had been staged” (Ben Caspit, ‘Muhammad Al-Dura: The boy who wasn’t really killed,’ Jerusalem Post, May 14, 2013).

 

A new Israeli inquiry, reported by Israeli daily Haaretz, shows:

“‘there are many indications’ that Mohammed al-Dura and his father, Jamal, ‘were never hit by gunfire’ – neither Israeli nor Palestinian – after all. The national panel of inquiry further claims that contrary to the famed report carried by the France 2 television network on the day of the incident, September 30, 2000, 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura appears to be alive at the end of the complete footage captured of the event … The committee found that the evidence in the television station’s possession did not support the claim that al-Dura died as a result of IDF gunfire. It added that the report falsely created the impression that the channel had solid proof that Israeli soldiers were responsible for the boy’s death. ‘Contrary to the claim that the boy was dead, the committee’s review of the raw footage indicates that at the end of the video – the part that was not broadcast – the boy appears to be alive,’ the inquiry stated. ‘The probe has found that there is no evidence to support the claims that the father, Jamal, or the boy Mohammed, were shot. Furthermore, the video does not show Jamal being seriously wounded.’” (Barak Ravid, ‘Israeli panel: Palestinian boy ‘killed’ by IDF at start of intifada did not actually die,’ Haaretz, May 20, 2013).

 

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein, had this to say about the whole affair:

“It has taken over a decade to have detailed, official Israeli confirmation that Muhammad al-Dura was neither killed nor even injured by Israeli fire in September 2000. Yet the al-Dura legend did Israel extraordinary harm. It is one of the great blood libels of Jewish history. 

“As a result of Enderlin’s fabricated report, Israel was subjected to waves of international criticism and innumerable acts of anti-Semitic violence occurred around the globe. It was cited by the murderers of the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. Postage stamps bearing al-Dura’s crouched image have been issued in Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia; a street in Baghdad and a square in Morocco bear his name, while many schools across the Arab world are named after him. His image has even been reproduced on a designer dress in Saudi Arabia.  

“Palestinian Authority television has repeatedly aired a film showing al-Dura in heaven, beckoning other Palestinian children to ‘martyr’ themselves by becoming terrorists so that they can join him in paradise. And the earlier Orr Commission concluded that ‘Muhammad al-Dura’s picture, which was distributed by the media, was one of the causes that led people in the Arab sector to take to the streets on October 1, 2000.’ 

“This chain of events bears out the memorable saying of Winston Churchill who once said that, ‘A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.’

 Klein goes on to call for an Israeli press conference to address the issues surrounding the now infamous affair. He calls for a complete and detailed revelation of the material facts and evidence in the case. According to Klein; “…Charles Enderlin, France 2 TV, and the battery of hostile, heedless and biased media that repeated the lie over and over and ignored the truth as it emerged should be held to account. A press conference to present the findings of General Kuperwasser’s report would be an essential first step in that direction.”

Obviously, the impact of the imagery and the story associated with this incident have weighed heavily on the people of not only Israel, but the Palestinians as well. Experts at the time suggested this incident became a sort of “battle cry” which in the ensuing years has led to many deaths. In fact, Osama bin Laden mentioned Muhammad in a “warning” to President George Bush after the  9/11 attacks. If the Israeli investigation proves out, a bit of what the ZOA calls “propaganda” will be, at least in part, a false catalyst for massively destructive missteps in many parts of the world. ZOA seems justified in their request, if for no other reason than this, even though more fuel will be added to the fires hatred and mistrust.

For readers interested more information and a dissenting side of this Netzarim Junction action, more can be found at the Al Durah Project here. Be advised the analysis of footage of the alleged shooting and the other evidence is often graphic. 

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