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Myth and Fact: The Shooting of Mohammed Aldura
Mitchell G. Bard

MYTH

"The shooting of a child being protected by his father shown on TV proves Israel does not hesitate to kill innocent Palestinian children."

FACT

Perhaps the most vivid image of the "al-Aksa intifada" was the film of a Palestinian father trying unsuccessfully to shield his son from gunfire. Israel was universally blamed for the death of 12-year-old Mohammed Aldura, but subsequent investigations found that the boy was most likely killed by Palestinian bullets.

An IDF aerial photo of the Netzarim junction in the Gaza Strip where Mohammed Aldura, 12, was killed shows that the father and son took cover adjacent to a Palestinian shooting position at the junction. After Palestinian policemen fired from this position and around it toward an IDF position opposite, IDF soldiers returned fire toward the sources of the shooting. During the exchanges of fire, the Palestinian child was hit and killed.

Contrary to the conventional belief that the footage of the incident was live, it was actually edited before it was broadcast around the world.Though a number of cameramen were in the area, only one, a Palestinian working for France 2, recorded the shooting. Raw footage of the day shows a far more complex picture of what was taking place and raised questions about the universal assumption that Israel had killed the boy.

An IDF investigation of the incident released November 27, 2000, found that Aldura was most likely killed by a Palestinian policeman and not by IDF fire. This report was confirmed by an independent investigation by German ARD Television, which said the footage of Aldura's death was censored by the Palestinians to look as if he had been killed by the Israelis when, in fact, his death was caused by Palestinian gunfire (CNN, Israel Defense Forces, Jerusalem Post, November 28, 2000; Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 21, 2002).

More recently, James Fallows revisted the story and found that "the physical evidence of the shooting was in all ways inconsistent with shots coming from the IDF outpost." In addition, he cites a number of unanswered questions, which have led some to conclude the whole incident was staged. For example, Fallows asks, "Why is there no footage of the boy after he was shot? Why does he appear to move in his father's lap, and to clasp a hand over his eyes after he is supposedly dead? Why is one Palestinian policeman wearing a Secret Service-style earpiece in one ear? Why is another Palestinian man shown waving his arms and yelling at others, as if 'directing' a dramatic scene? Why does the funeral appear - based on the length of shadows - to have occurred before the apparent time of the shooting? Why is there no blood on the father's shirt just after they are shot? Why did a voice that seems to be that of the France 2 cameraman yell, in Arabic, 'The boy is dead' before he had been hit? Why do ambulances appear instantly for seemingly everyone else and not for al-Dura?" (The Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows, "Who Shot Mohammed al-Dura?" June 2003).