Scenario 2: Israelis by Accident

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* Those who adhere to this scenario: Many people in the West and in Israel.

For those unwilling to accuse the Israelis of outright murder, this narrative presents a more benign version, that accepts the main lines of the story as presented by France2, but sees the death as the tragic result of the al Durahs getting caught in a crossfire. The original France 2 footage aired across the world, gives the impression of a crossfire, with the father waving at the Israelis to stop. In the crossfire, Israel becomes the prime culprit: As Robert Fisk of the Independent put it: “When I read the word “crossfire”, I reach for my pen. In the Middle East, it almost always means that the Israelis have killed an innocent person.”

Although he gives the Israelis a very thin benefit of the doubt (“True, the Israeli soldiers who killed the boy may not have known whom they hit”), Fisk is typical of a public that used the clip shown around the world to presume that since the Israelis, on one side, were in a shootout with the Palestinians, on the other, Mohammed and his father would naturally be caught in the crossfire and struck by stray Israeli bullets. This public includes many Israelis. For the editorial board at Ha’aretz, this event typified the conflict. Before investigating the matter, even the army spokesman initially admitted that the Israeli soldiers might have shot him accidentally.

A Boston Globe article on October 13, 2000 which compared reactions to the al Durah incident with the lynchings of Israeli reservists in Ramallah a few days later, shows how many Israelis thought of the al Durah affair in the weeks after the footage aired: ‘”OK, we accidentally killed the boy in Gaza and that was a terrible thing. But nobody took pleasure in the killing. Nobody turned it into a celebration. They’re dancing on Jewish blood,” said an Israeli woman at the Jerusalem eatery, who gave only her first name, Sarit.’

Ironically, this is the scenario with the least evidence in favor of it, and perhaps the most widely held, certainly in the USA and Israel, where the media generally ‘passed’ on the opportunity to investigate the matter further.

FOR

Israeli public statements: Israeli officials initially admitted that their soldiers returned fire that day, and that their soldiers may have accidentally shot the boy.

– Evidence of crossfire on tapes: there was crossfire that day at the intersection near the barrel, although we do not know whether this took place at the time the al Durahs were behind the concrete barrel.

– Israeli bullets might have ricocheted off wall behind barrel: this accords with Jamal’s claim in one interview and the hospital claim that he was shot over the left nipple and the Jordanian hospital report that he had an exit wound in the front of his left arm.
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– This scenario appeals most to fair-minded people who do not want to charge Israel with deliberate murder, but accept Enderlin’s main storyline, the boy killed by Israeli gunfire.

AGAINST

– No explicit testimony: The evidence for an accidental killing in the cross-fire is less explicit than that for an intentional murder. No eye-witness suggests such a accidental scenario.

– Angles of fire make Israeli gunfire the least likely source of the al Durahs’ multiple wounds: As the official report of the Israeli army published by General Yom Tov Samia, Gaza commander of the Israeli Army at the time, as well as Nahum Shahaf, a physicist in charge of the IDF investigation, testify, the positioning of the Al-Durahs behind the concrete barrel prevented any Israeli bullets from hitting the two.

– No taped evidence of crossfire: although we hear gunshots, no footage of the Israeli position either shows them firing or fired at during the time the Al-Durahs are behind the barrel. To this end, 45 minutes of heavy automatic fire from the Israelis does not accord with any of the footage filmed or recorded that day.

– Hospital photo (seen at France2) shows boy wounded in the stomach: the hospital photos allegedly of Muhammed Al-Durah shown on Esther Shapira’s film show no wounds above the nipple, and the photo filmed by Talal (France2 rushes, October 1) show a gaping stomach wound, not a chest wound.

– Neither the film of the al Durahs behind the barrel nor photos of the barrel the next day shows any sign of bullets ricocheting off the barrel nor were any closer shots taken to prove the contention of ricochets.

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