Israeli Physician Acquitted of Libel Against Mohammed al-Dura's Father

French court overturns libel conviction of Dr. David Yehuda, who was sued by the father of Mohammed al-Dura, the boy who became a powerful symbol of the second intifada.

A French appeals court yesterday overturned the libel conviction of an Israeli physician who was sued by the father of Mohammed al-Dura, the boy whose shooting death in September 2000 became a powerful symbol of the second intifada.

Jamal al-Dura had displayed to international media outlets scars on his body he claimed were caused by bullets fired by Israel Defense Forces soldiers.


In a 2008 interview with a French Jewish weekly an Israeli orthopedic surgeon, Dr. David Yehuda disputed the elder Dura's claim. Yehuda said the scars were not related to the incident in which Mohammed al-Dura, who was 12 years old, died.

Rather, Yehuda said, they were the result of an assault on Dura by Hamas militants who accused him of collaborating with Israel, as well as subsequent surgery performed by Yehuda himself in 1994.

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Yehuda, together with the reporter and editor of the French publication, were convicted of libel by a French court in April and ordered to pay thousands of euros in compensation.

Yesterday's ruling was the result of Yehuda's appeal of his conviction.

The photos of the Duras, father and son, taking cover behind a barrel during an exchange of gunfire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants, near the Netzarim junction in the Gaza Strip, remains one of the most enduring images of the second intifada.

Israel initially apologized for the boy's death but issued a retraction when subsequent investigations indicated the boy was most likely killed by Palestinian fire.