Leading critic of French al-Dura coverage convicted
Philippe Karsenty found guilty of defamation for accusing France 2 of staging Palestinian boy’s death
By TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF June 26, 2013, 4:40 pm 12
Philippe Karsenty, Jewish-French politician and focus of legal battle over the al-Dura video.
A French media analyst was convicted Wednesday of defamation for accusing a state television network of staging a video that depicted a young boy being killed in a firefight between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli soldiers.
The footage more than a decade ago galvanized Palestinians and anti-Israeli sentiment in the Mideast at the start of the bloody Second Intifada.
A Paris court fined Philippe Karsenty 7,000 euros (NIS 33,000) in the defamation case filed by network France 2. Karsenty accused the network’s Jerusalem bureau chief, Charles Enderlin, of fabricating parts of the segment.
The 55 seconds of edited footage, broadcast on September 30, 2000, showed the terrified boy, Mohammed al-Dura, and his father amid a furious exchange of fire in the Gaza Strip. It then cut to the boy slumped in his father’s lap. The report blamed Israeli forces for the death.
Karsenty called the verdict “outrageous.” A lawyer for France 2 said it was a victory for journalists.
Karsenty was convicted of libel in 2006, a judgment that was overturned on appeal in 2008. France 2 subsequently appealed that appeal at the “Cour de cassation,” France’s highest court. Last year, the Cour de cassation annulled the ruling acquitting Karsenty of libel in 2008.
Last month, an official Israeli government report concluded that al-Dura was not harmed by Israeli forces and did not die in the exchange of fire.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who commissioned the report in 2012, said the accusations aired on France 2 were “a manifestation of the ongoing, mendacious campaign to delegitimize Israel.”
A screen capture of the video showing the Muhammad al-Dura incident.
After the report was released, al-Dura’s father, Jamal al-Dura, told Ynet that he and his son were both hit by Israeli fire in the incident. He said he would be willing to exhume the body to prove that his son had in fact been killed.
Israel initially did not dispute that IDF troops had inadvertently killed the child.
“It could very much be — this is an estimation — that a soldier in our position, who has a very narrow field of vision, saw somebody hiding behind a cement block in the direction from which he was being fired at, and he shot in that direction,” the IDF’s southern commander Maj. Gen. Yom-Tov Samia said at the time.