GPO Head: Sept. 2000 Death of Gaza Child Al-Dura Was Staged

12-year-old Mohammed Al-Dura's death in Gaza clashes caught on tape, broadcast around the world.

Government Press Office Director Daniel Seaman said Monday that the September 2000 death of Palestinian child Mohammed Al-Dura in the Gaza Strip was staged.

Seaman made the comments in a letter he sent responding to a demand that he strip France 2 journalists of their GPO credentials. France 2 broadcast the footage of Al-Dura's death in September 2000.

The Prime Minister's Bureau said it was not informed of Seaman's letter, nor did it grant its approval.

Following a summary of the incident and the events that followed, Seaman wrote, "Here began the long path to exposing the truth ... that is known to us today, that the events of that day were essentially staged by the network's cameraman in Gaza, Mr. Tilal Abu-Rehama."

Seaman nonetheless refused to strip the network of its GPO credentials.

The disturbing images of Mohammed al-Dura's death were shown around the world. In the France-2 report, the boy and his father cower in front of a wall amid a furious exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

The report shows the father gesturing to try to stop the shooting - then cuts to a shot of the motionless boy slumped in his father's lap. The report said the gunfire had come from nearby Israeli positions, though the circumstances remain in dispute.

The IDF initially said the gunfire apparently came from Israeli positions. But a military investigation subsequently determined he could have been hit by Palestinian bullets in an exchange of fire.

Last month, a French court ordered France 2 to release unedited 7-year old footage of Al-Dura's death for renewed investigations into the incident.

The court launched new hearings in the legal dispute between France-2 and a Philippe Karsenty, a self-described media watchdog who has accused the network and its Israel correspondent, Charles Enderlin, of staging the shooting.

Enderlin and the TV network filed a libel suit against Karsenty, and a Paris judge ruled in their favor last year.