JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel demanded a French television station on Sunday correct a report from nearly 13 years ago which helped fuel anger across the world and ignite a bloody uprising against the Jewish state.
Twelve-year-old Mohammed al-Dura and his father, Jamal, were filmed crouching in terror by a wall in the Gaza Strip in September 2000, bullets whizzing around them, as Israeli forces battled Palestinian gunmen days into an uprising that erupted after failed peace talks.
The boy was later pronounced dead, and his father wounded.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September ordered an investigation into the incident which Israel sees as a blight on its image and an enduring inspiration for violence against it.
Israel at first apologized then blamed Palestinian militants for the death of Dura, whose lifeless image was shown around the world, turning him into a martyr in Arab countries.
The 36-page Israeli report said the France 2 accusation that troops had killed Dura was “destructive” and said it had fuelled attacks for years by Islamist militants against it as well as American targets, and “served as an inspiration and justification for terrorism, anti-Semitism.”
Based on its review of the film, the Israeli report said “there is no evidence that the Israeli military was in any way responsible for causing any of the alleged injuries” to the boy and his father.
“The review showed that it is highly doubtful that bullet holes in the vicinity of the two could have had their source in fire from the Israeli position,” it said.
The document also questioned whether the footage supports conclusions that either Palestinian victim was hurt during the film clip. “There are numerous indications that the two were not struck by bullets at all,” the report said.
“There remains a need to publicly correct and clarify the France 2 narrative as a first step towards moderating the report’s destructive effects,” it added.
In Gaza, Jamal al-Dura denounced the report as “a new fabrication”. In an interview with Reuters, he demanded an international investigation, including Arab participation, into “what happened to me and my son”.
In response to Israel’s report, France 2 said in a statement it “has shown a willingness to participate in any official independent investigation, carried out according to international standards”.
It said it was also ready to help exhume the boy’s “to help clarify the circumstances” of his death.
Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Editing by Jon Hemming