Report on IDF Shooting of Palestinian Boy During Intifada May Cause Israel More Damage Than Good

Publishing the report 13 years after the incident took place and accompanying it with a government PR campaign is not only surreal, but could backfire by awaking sleeping dogs.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

The report on the investigation of the Mohammed al-Dura affair is probably one of the least relevant documents written by the Israeli government in recent years.

The report, entitled "French TV station France 2's coverage of the Mohammed al-Dura affair, its results and implications", was presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 13 years after the events it describes took place, making its submission today surreal.

In its wake, Netanyahu recited slogans about “a campaign of de-legitimization directed against Israel” and Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, who had no part in preparing the report, muttered a few words about "blood libel", and everyone present felt very righteous.

The person who advocated for setting up the committee, who also became its chairman, was Yossi Kuperwasser,

Yossi Kuperwasser, director general of the Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Ministry, advocated for the establishment of an investigative committee and became its chairman. Kuperwasser, who was the intelligence officer at the Israel Defense Forces GOC Southern Command and later head of research and analysis for IDF intelligence, has been waging a 13-year-long public relations campaign against the Palestinians. For better or worse, his attention to the al-Dura affair became an obsession, leading to a suspicion that there might be a conflict of interest.

The result of the committee’s work was a document for the extremely meticulous. It is doubtful whether even a hundred people in Israel or worldwide are sufficiently familiar with all the intricate details of the incident to be able to follow the convoluted arguments by the report's authors. Furthermore, the document contains no new evidence that might significantly impact the accepted version. Even the new interpretation given to some of the old findings seems groundless. For example, Dr. Ricardo Nachman, deputy director of Israel’s National Forensic Institute, determined, based on viewing poor quality video footage, that Mohammed al-Dura wasn’t shot and killed in that incident.

The expert opinion attached to the report reads like an article by a movie critic and not by a pathologist. “The final scenes, in which the boy is seen raising his head and arms, bringing his hand to his face and looking into the distance are not compatible with death throes, but seem like voluntary movements," wrote Nachman. “One doesn’t need to be an expert to see that."

It seems as though the report was written for use within Israel alone. The evidence and arguments that were presented might convince the already convinced, but no more than that. The committee could not present any "smoking gun" evidence showing the 25 year old al-Dura sunbathing on a Gaza beach. Not even close. Any thought of getting such a report to change the globally accepted narrative after 13 years is akin to trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube.

The report also appears to be a campaign of revenge launched by the State of Israel against a single French journalist, Charles Enderlin, who first reported Mohammed al-Dura's death. Committee members tried to saddle Enderlin, an Israeli Jew who has been living here for over 30 years, with all of Israel's problems and those of the Jewish people.

The committee went even further and hinted at Enderlin’s responsibility for the massacre of Jewish schoolchildren in Toulouse. “His report inspired many terrorists and contributed to the demonization of Israel and to the rise of anti-Semitism in Muslim and Western countries”, wrote committee members. “In some cases, the implications were deadly”.

The damage done by this report could be greater than any doubtful utility. Its publication, accompanied by an international public relations campaign only threatens to awaken sleeping dogs, for if the international press picks up on the report, it could lead to a renewed discussion on Palestinian children getting hurt during IDF operations.

Yuval Steinitz submitting the report on the al-Dura case to Prime Minister Netanyahu.Credit: Moshe Milner/GPO
The infamous image of Mohammed al-Dura (left) taking cover with his father Jamal.Credit: AP

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