This scenario was virtually “unthinkable” initially, and it is still often misunderstood by people who have difficulty imagining it. It represents a radically different approach to the case, calling into question the fundamental assumption of all four previous scenarios, i.e. that the boy was indeed shot. The power of suggestion, and the almost instinctive suspension of disbelief with which most of us look at “news footage” has made this so unbelievable a scenario that many people (including prominent government officials, Israeli and American), are unaware that this is even an option. Over the last two years or so, however, it has become increasingly adopted by those who study the dossier carefully.
“Staging” refers to an incident that may contain real action (hurling stones and Molotov cocktails) designed to provoke a real response – all of which is intended chiefly for the benefit of cameras. “Faking” is pure theatre. Set up exclusively for the benefit of the camera, a faked event is designed to simulate the response that does not actually materialize and feign the injury that never occurs.
– All of the arguments for staging and against deliberate murder by the Palestinians work in favor of a staged scene.
– Evidence that the scene was deliberately set up:
Photographic evidence from three cameramen show the boy and father behind the barrel well before the shooting begins, suggesting a much greater probability that they were deliberately placed there, rather than chance pedestrians caught in a crossfire.
Bullet direction suggests setting the scene for filming. (Scenario 3)
At funeral which occurs in the late afternoon of September 30th, the mourners already have posters of the boy. In order for them to have this, they would have had to go to his home in El-Bureij, get a picture, make the poster and copy it for distribution – all in approximately one to two hours. In the meantime, Muhammed’s mother claims that she didn’t find out about his death until the later evening news.
– Motive: Immense PR victory for the Palestinians. This image provides the Palestinians with superb material for scapegoating Israel which they rapidly exploited. It permits them to:
– destroy international sympathy for Israel, as an article in The Independent (UK) illustrates
– incite Palestinians and other Arabs and radicalize Muslims the world over to hate the Israelis and want to kill them all.
– No blood: Talal claimed the boy was bleeding for 15 or 20 minutes from a gaping stomach wound (which would normally cause massive, fatal loss of blood)), but the tape does not show any blood on the wall or the ground where Muhammed lay. Footage taken of the wall and barrel on the morning of the following day also show no sign of blood. Later that day, when blood suddenly appears it is added under the father’s place at the barrel, but not where Muhammed lay. Why would Talal not have gotten even a few seconds of footage showing the boy bleeding on the ground?
– No ambulance evacuation: Given how valuable ambulance evacuations are as footage, how quickly the ambulances tend to arrive to tend to injuries, and the fact that we know an ambulance was in waiting just behind the boy and the father, one would expect a real case of evacuating the wounded to have been extremely valuable. Given Talal’s perfect positioning for filming an especially bloody scene of the wounded father and dead son, it seems incomprehensible that Talal recorded not one frame of Mohammed’s ambulance evacuation. Asked why, by Nahum Shahaf over the phone, Talal responds evasively: “because the ambulance driver was shot.” Asked why he didn’t take a picture of that, Talal responded, “because he was shot before he got to the boy.” In another interview, with Ester Schapira, Talal contradicted that testimony, claiming that he didn’t shoot footage of the Mohammed’s evacuation by ambulance because the ambulance closed off his view. This contradiction of his earlier testimony avoids the more basic question of why Talal did not photograph the eventual evacuation. Enderlin replies to both anomalies by claiming that Talal told him that he was running out of batteries. But if that were the case, why didn’t Talal just run out his camera on the scene in front of him rather than film a later, undistinguished ambulance scene?
– No shot of the boy arriving at the Hospital by ambulance: And even if Talal’s camera battery were dead, he could have called ahead to Shifa hospital to make sure that the arrival of the father and son would get filmed some half an hour later.
But, we have no shots of the father and son arriving at Shifa hospital.
– No bullets recovered: Shifa hospital and the hopsital in Jordan despite allegedly dealt with two people with a total of 8-12 bullet wounds, but recovered not a sinlge bullet or bullet fragment. Nor did the Palestinian police who examined the site the next day. Perhaps aware that the lack of bullets made his case weak, Talal told Esther Schapira “we have the bullets, the kind of the bullets, I photographed them.” When Schapira asks where the bullets are, Talal tells her to “consult the general… he could tell you.” When Schapira points out that the Palestinian General does not have any bullets, Talal, the only employee of France2 at the scene at that time claims: “France2 collected”. “So you’re doing a better job than the investigators,” Schapira responds, as Talal registers the realization that his claim has no credibility. “No, no, no” Talal answers with a smirk as he realizes that story won’t work, “We…we… we have our secrets… we cannot give anything… just everything.”
Further evidence comes from a closer look at the actual footage of the al Durahs behind the barrel.
– There are only 59 seconds of tape of the actual “shooting” sequence, which further breaks up into 6 separate scenes. Rather than shooting long sequences of the boy and father either under fire or bleeding, Talal takes tiny sequences of only a few seconds each. We will review each one for evidence of staging:
Scene 1: Behind the barrel: bullet comes from Palestinian side
Scene 2: Israeli Position: no fire from or at Israelis
Scene 3: Waving the Hand: father looking at the camera, people yelling the boy is dead while he’s still alive.
Scene 4: lying down body crunched: no evidence of bullets hitting boy, red on leg, father looks unconscious. Two fingers passing before the camera immediately before the image of Mohammed lying flat, almost signaling a ‘cut’, unusual behavior for a journalistic camera.
Scene 5: lying down, hand over eyes Mohammed’s arm is also nowhere near his stomach an instinctual reaction for someone shot in the abdomen, father’s head bobs, he’s conscious, but he never reaches for his son
Scene 6: lying down, looking out Mohammed al-Durra lifting his elbow and moving his feet, atypical actions for a dead child, father has turned away from the boy, still making no effort to reach for him.
– Talal is a known Pallywood photographer
Here he is caught by another cameraman filming a classic Pallywood fake
Those who have seen his rushes for this day all agree that they are filled with staged scenes
Talal has, allegedly, retracted his testimony before the PHRC.
– There is no clear evidence against this scenario. Once one turns off the willing suspension of disbelief and look at these scenes as potentially staged, one finds few if any scenes that argue for real acting (with the exception of the terrified boy as real Palestinian bullets fly overhead).
– It’s a conspiracy theory: Most people find the idea that the Palestinians would do such a thing, and that the Western media would all be fooled by it so preposterous, that they dismiss it out of hand. As one prominent diplomat involved in the Camp David process put it: “The Middle East is so full of conspiracy theories, I’m not going to believe any of them.”
– If it were staged, surely the Israelis would have said something: Why haven’t the Israelis come forward with this conclusion, especially if their own investigator, Nahum Shahaf, argued for that position very early on? It would have cleared them and cast serious doubt on the account of Talal abu Rahma and the image of al-Durah as a symbol of the Intifada.