Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has defended a special committee's conclusion that 12-year-old Palestinian Mohammed al-Dura was not killed by crossfire during a clash early in the second intifada. Ya'alon also called the incident "a blood libel."
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In September 2000, the France 2 television station filmed what appeared to be the killing of al-Dura in a gun battle between Palestinian militants and the Israel Defense Forces. The special panel, which was chaired by Ya'alon, says "there are many indications" that al-Dura was never hit by gunfire.
"The Mohammed al-Dura incident is significant because it has become a blood libel attributed to us," Ya'alon told reporters Tuesday while visiting a naval commando base near Haifa. "It's important because, for example, the terrorist in Toulouse pointed to the Mohammed al-Dura affair as what motivated him to murder Jews."
Ya'alon was referring to Mohamed Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origin who killed four Jews and three soldiers in and around the French city of Toulouse in March 2012. Merah was later shot dead by police.
The committee's report states twice that Merah did not mention al-Dura's name. "It should be stated that the French-Algerian terrorist Mohamed Merah who killed three Jewish children, a rabbi and three French soldiers in attacks in 2012 did not explicitly mention al-Dura, but he did tell police that he carried out his acts to avenge the Palestinian children killed by Israel," the report states.
The committee's source for Merah's motives was taken from a BBC report, according to which Merah said he acted to avenge "the death of Palestinian children" and France's military intervention abroad.
The words "by Israel" were added by the committee.