Israeli Reactions to the Al-Durah Affair

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Israeli Reactions to the Al-Durah Affair: a Chronology of Events

September 30, 2000:

Netzarim – near to Magen 3, an Israeli military outpost in The Gaza Strip, Jamal Al-Durah and his son, Mohammed, seek cover from gunfire and are shot, allegedly by Israelis; the son is killed and the father receives several gun wounds before he is evacuated to a hospital.

October 1, 2000

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Southern Command general Yom Tov Samia first denies fault in the boy’s death, pending an investigation.

October 3, 2000

Following a hasty preliminary investigation and in contradiction of Samia’s earlier claims, Israeli chief of army operations Giora Eiland claims responsibility for and regret over al-Durah’s death, stating that ‘the shots were apparently fired by Israeli soldiers’.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon comments on the Al-Durah incident, calling it ‘a real tragedy’, whilst IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon describes the footage as ‘heartrending’.

October 7, 2000

The IDF destroy the wall behind which were hiding Jamal and Mohammed Al-Durah, thereby relegating all future investigations of the incident to the realm of simulation.

October 23, 2000

Physicist Nahum Shahaf and engineer Yosef Doriel lead a re-enactment of the scene under the auspices of Yom Tov Samia. The analysis raises serious doubts about Israel’s culpability.

November 7, 2000

Anat Cygielman, writing in Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper, publishes a damning report on the inquiry headed by Nahum Shahaf and Yosef Doriel, calling the investigation amateurish.

November 8th, 2000

IDF Chief of General Staff, Shaul Mofaz, distances the IDF from Samia’s investigation, claiming it was not officially sanctioned.

November 10, 2000

The editorial board of Ha’aretz harshly criticizes the ongoing IDF investigation in an article entitled ‘Stupidity Marches On.’

November 27, 2000

Samia’s commission of inquiry releases the findings of its investigation, alleging that the probability of Israeli bullets hitting the child is low.

Writing in 2008, Daniel Seaman, director of the Israeli Government Press Office, claims that the publication of Samia’s report demonstrated that ‘there was no basis for the accusations levelled against Israel in the France 2 story’.

July 15, 2002

Amnon Lord, Israeli journalist and author publishes ‘Who killed Mohamed al-Dura? Blood Libel—Model 2000’ , arguing that indeed the event was staged.

April 20, 2005

In a reversal of previous official Israeli claims, IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon claims Al-Durah ‘One hundred percent was not hit by IDF gunfire. He was apparently shot by a Palestinian police officer’, whilst Eiland retracted his previous claims that the boy was killed by Israeli soldiers.

October 7th, 2007

Writing in Ha’aretz, Gideon Levy charges that the debate regarding the reliability of the Al-Durah footage is irrelevant, because Israel has killed many other Palestinian children.

June 5th, 2008

Daniel Seaman, director of the Israeli Government Press Office, hints that the official Israeli response to the Al-Durah affair was muddled, because ‘Israeli officials for public diplomacy failed to convene to determine an official position (on the alleged killing)’.

January 24th, 2010

Ha’aretz writer Reuven Pedatzur publishes an article attacking the Israeli government’s inability to challenge the Palestinian claim that the IDF killed Al-Durah, arguing that the affair represents yet another instance where ‘Israel relinquishes the media front to the Palestinians, who are taking advantage of it with sophistication’.

October 21, 2010

The Israeli Prime Minister’s office issues an official statement declaring that ‘it was not right to impose on the IDF and the State of Israel responsibility for the Muhammad Al Dura episode.’

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