Israel's Focus on al-Dura Is Harmful Propaganda

The report released on the death of Mohammed al-Dura doesn’t lift the fog off the case, if there ever was any. Instead, it raises a more painful issue: the many young people killed by IDF soldiers during the second intifada.

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a report on Sunday from a government investigative committee working under the auspices of the International Relations and Strategic Affairs Ministry, entitled “The Report by French Television Network France 2 on the Case of Mohammed al-Dura, its Results and Ramifications.” According to the human rights group B’Tselem, 951 children and teens were killed by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza between 2000 and 2008, yet no government committee was ever established to investigate the circumstances of their deaths. Only in the al-Dura case was such a committee convened.

Al-Dura became a symbol, an international icon of child-killing by the Israel Defense Forces, after France 2 and its local correspondent, Charles Enderlin, documented the boy’s killing in real time. Since then, certain individuals around the world have been obsessively investigating the circumstances of his death in an effort to prove that the IDF wasn’t responsible, or even that al-Dura wasn’t killed at all. This wasn’t enough, however, for the Israeli government, which established its own panel.

The report doesn’t bring any new evidence that would significantly alter the accepted version of events − that al-Dura was killed by IDF soldiers. “There is no evidence that Jamal [the boy’s father, who was wounded in the incident] or the boy were hurt,” says the abstract at the beginning of the report. The report’s authors arrive at that dubious conclusion using a collection of circumstantial evidence, some of it barely serious, like the impressions of an Israeli pathologist who watched the video.

The committee never contacted Enderlin, and it ignored the fact that Jamal was hospitalized in Amman, where he underwent surgery and other treatment for his wounds. The report might raise some questions, but it comes to no clear conclusions.

It would have been better had this committee never been established. The obsession with the al-Dura case should have been left to a handful of investigators who represent only themselves, instead of becoming an issue that consumed government resources. This report doesn’t lift the fog off this case, if there ever was any. Instead, it raises a more painful issue: the many young people killed by IDF soldiers during the second intifada.

If the government had chosen to investigate that, perhaps it would have been reasonable to include a chapter on the al-Dura incident. But focusing only on him is mere propaganda that won’t in any way improve Israel’s problematic image of being responsible for too many children’s deaths.

The infamous image of Mohammed al-Dura (left) taking cover with his father Jamal.Credit: AP

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