I am in Paris where I have attended the Court of Appeal special session called to witness the 27 minutes of hitherto unseen footage of the ‘killing’ of Mohammed al Durah which the court had required France 2 to produce. For readers who are unfamiliar with this scandal, I wrote about it here, here and here.
Suffice it to say here that the iconic image of the child Mohammed al Durah, pictured crouching with his father behind a barrel next to a concrete wall in an apparently vain attempt to shelter from the gun-battle between Israel and the Palestinians that was raging around them before he was allegedly shot dead by the Israelis, served to incite terrorist violence and atrocities around the world after it was transmitted by France 2 at the beginning of the second intifada. Yet it is clear to anyone looking at this in detail that the whole thing was staged, not least from the devastating evidence here which shows the boy raising his arm and peeping through his fingers seconds after the France 2 correspondent Charles Enderlin said he had been shot dead.
After Philippe Karsenty, founder of the French online media watchdog, Media Ratings, accused France 2 of staging the al Durah ‘killing’ and called for the resignation of both Charles Enderlin and France 2’s News Director, Arlette Chabot, France 2 and Enderlin sued Karsenty for defamation, and won. In a disgraceful piece of judicial cronyism after the gratuitous intervention of the then French President Jacques Chirac, the court decided against Karsenty and in favour of France 2 and Enderlin. Karsenty appealed; the judge ordered France 2 to produce the unscreened footage of this incident; today it did so.
Well, sort of. What it actually produced was 18 minutes out of the 27 it was required to bring forward. From this footage, which according to France 2’s Palestinian cameraman was filmed during an implausible 45 minutes of continuous shooting by Israeli soldiers, there is no evidence that anyone at all was killed or injured -- including Mohammed al Durah who by the end of the frames in which he figured seemed to be still very much alive and unmarked by any wound whatsoever.
The drama of today’s hearing was enhanced by the appearance of Enderlin himself, who until today had not graced this case with his presence. As the film was shown to a packed and overheated (in every sense) courtroom, Enderlin and Karsenty offered rival interpretations of the images on the screen. If Enderlin thought he would thus demonstrate the inadequacy of Karsenty’s case, he was very much mistaken. On the contrary, parts of his commentary were so absurd that the courtroom several times burst into incredulous laughter.
HonestReporting together with Take-A-Pen covered this afternoon's hearing in France where raw footage of the Mohammed Dura was publicly screened for the first time. HonestReporting/Take-A-Pen's Alain Benjamin, who saw the video in court, discussed by phone the proceedings with MediaBackspin editor Pesach Benson.
What did the raw footage show?
We can definitely say that nobody can say who was shooting at who. Charles Enderlin said in court that the Palestinians started shooting first, but in the end, there's no way we can say what happened that day. You can't tell who did what. The assertion from Charles Enderlin, that the Israeli army killed the boy, is totally wrong. The least he could've said was that the boy was killed--but we don't know by who.
There was a dispute over how much footage was to be screened. Was the full video shown?
Charles Enderlin submitted 18 minutes of footage. The judge, without any prompting from Philippe's lawyers, asked what happened to the 27 minutes. Enderlin said on record in court that he had to manipulate some footage that was not relevant to that day. He said he transferred the footage onto DVD for the court. That was amazing.
So she asked if anyone in attendance had seen the full footage. Luc Rosenzweig was there, stood up , and said he saw a tape that was more than 20 minutes long. Richard Landes also stood up. He saw the footage at Enderlin's office. He said the timer he saw was at least 21 minutes long. The judge basically let that issue rest, but there was serious doubt hanging over the room that the footage was tampered or doctored.
Here is another report, testifying to the edited-out footage.