Those who believe that the Israelis intentionally killed Mohammed al Durah are located primarily in the Palestinian territories and the Arab and Muslim world where, thanks to edited footage, his “murderer” appears in the film which first introduced them to the story. Among this audience we find people convinced of a Zionist plot to wipe the Palestinian people off the face of the earth and to enslave mankind. They use this incident as a confirmation of their suspicions and to justify their responses. This scenario has reaffirmed, for many, their worst beliefs and fears about Zionists, Israelis, and Jews. Many European media and radical groups present the case as a deliberate murder.
The main body of evidence supporting this claim comes from the testimony of Talal abu Rahma and Jamal al Durah, given at several distinct instances:
Specifically, Talal alleges that the Israelis were shooting at the boy and father for 45 minutes. He also asserts that the Israelis saw the boy and the father and continued to shoot at them regardless . Talal has reiterated this position in interviews with the BBC, German filmmaker Esther Schapira, Israeli TV and National Public Radio. In his first formal statement under oath, Talal claimed that the child was intentionally and in cold blood shot dead and his father injured by the Israeli army.
Jamal al Durah, the father of Mohammed, has supported this position in his many statements and interviews where he says that the Israeli soldiers saw and fired upon him and Mohammed repeatedly, even after Jamal begged them to stop. Jamal has said alternatively that he was hit by 8 bullets or 12 bullets and Mohammed by 3 or 4 rounds.
Palestinian officials, such as the doctor who examined Mohammed’s body and the general who performed the investigation, also concur on the identity and motive of the guilty party.
1. All the evidence here is eye-witness testimony to events “under fire.” They concern not observations but judgments that go to motive. None of the available evidence supports such an accusation.
The firing during the time when we can locate the father and son behind the barrel is limited and, judging from the contemporaneous behavior of some Palestinians and photographers who appear to know and do not take cover, the fire is Palestinian and possibly in the air.
Only one shot of the Israeli post shows a bullet fired from that position, which does not exclude firing, but hardly supports Talal’s claims.
No film footage of the boy and the father behind the barrel indicates any bullet hitting the wall coming from the Israeli position.
2. No Israeli bullets or bullet fragments were ever recovered, either at the site from the bodies of Jamal (8 or 12 reported bullet wounds) or Mohammed (3 or 4 reported bullet wounds). Talal, when questioned by Esther Schapira, makes claims he cannot sustain.
3. Distance from Israelis to Barrel
Talal has said that the army outpost was anywhere from 150 to 300 meters away from Jamal and Mohammed. Jamal and Mohammed were effectively shielded from the view of the Israeli position by a concrete barrel covered with a concrete block. From the vantage point of the father and son, it was impossible to see the soldiers in the tower with the naked eye; so that Jamal’s claim that he begged them to stop hardly means that they received the message. That Jamal could effectively signal soldiers to stop shooting amid an allegedly deafening hail of bullets – Talal: I never saw shooting like that in my life,” from a distance of two or three football fields is impossible.
4. Motive: Why murder a 12 year old boy?
For Israelis to target a 12 year old boy makes no sense, either from a PR point of view or from the point of view of the Israeli military prohibitions on targeting civilians. Granted that in combat the unexpected happens, none of the evidence supports the existence of deliberate murderous fire from Israeli soldiers, who all deny anything like this kind of firing. The testimony of the soldiers is that they engaged only targets from which hostile fire emanated- and using laser guided weapons to ensure that no innocents were hit.
Jamal, in a forum-style interview on Arabia.com on October 30, 2000 stated that “the Israelis intend to kill children less than 16 years of age. So they won’t grow up and build families. That is how they will annihilate the Palestinian people.” This explanation is classic conspiracy thinking and bears strong similarities to “blood libels” like “Jews use the blood of Christian children to bake their unleavened bread during Passover”. If the Israelis deliberately targeted Palestinian children, why do numerous Palestinian youth under sixteen stroll right in front of their position throwing rocks, with no fear of reprisal?