Friday, October 5, 2007

Rights group: Impartial investigation for 2000 killing of Muhammad al-Dura

Press Release, Al Mezan, Oct 4, 2007

"The Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) claimed yesterday that the video of the murder of Muhammad Jamal al-Dura on 30 September 2000 was staged by a cameraman in Gaza. The scene of the killing of the 11-year-old boy was one of the most moving ones ever broadcast during the second intifada that had started three days before the incident.

The video shows al-Dura and his father trying to take cover behind a concrete block while the father attempts to protect his son as Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) opened fire directly at them. The child was killed and the father was moderately injured in this incident. The video shows the child and the father in a desperate situation while neither of them pose any danger to the IOF. The video was broadcast by France 2 TV, and provoked strong condemnation at official and popular levels worldwide at the time.

Based on the GPO's allegations, Israel stripped the credentials of the two journalists who taped the footage. The decision was approved, and therefore accepted, by Israel's Prime Minister Office Legal Advisor. The GPO claims that IOF do not bear responsibility for killing the child.

Nevertheless, information and evidence collected by Al Mezan from the field rebut the GPO's allegations. Al Mezan had availed its evidence to an international fact-finding mission in 2000. The mission encompassed the UN independent expert Professor John Dugard and fifteen experts. Al Mezan invited eyewitnesses and presented other evidence to the mission, which investigated the perpetration of multiple crimes by IOF in this incident. IOF also targeted an ambulance that tried to help al-Dura and his father and killed its driver, 48-year-old Fayiz Saleem al-Bilbissy.

Al Mezan noted that the murder of al-Dura occurred on the third day of the intifada, a time that saw the highest rate of killing of Palestinian children by IOF. According to the documented information, children were killed as they threw stones at Israeli soldiers who were well-protected inside barracks at the entrance of the road to the former settlement of Netsarim, south of Gaza City. This period was characterized by extensive passive resistance in the form of demonstrations and throwing stones......."

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