Jamal al-Dura rebukes Israeli report denying son’s death

Footage of Jamal al-Dura and his son hiding behind a barrel from Israeli-Palestinian crossfire, with the boy screaming in terror before sinking into his father’s lap, shocked the world. (File photo: AFP)

The father of Mohammed al-Dura dismissed an Israeli report that said his 12-year-old son was not killed in Sept. 2000, The Guardian newspaper reported Thursday.

Footage of Jamal al-Dura and his son hiding behind a barrel from Israeli-Palestinian crossfire, with the boy screaming in terror before sinking into his father’s lap, shocked the world.

The footage became one of the most powerful images of the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation. In the Arab world, the image was copied on posters, stamps and murals. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, al-Qaeda highlighted the incident as one of its justifications for attacking the United States, a close ally to Israel.

“Israel says my son isn’t dead. Can you imagine how this feels for a father who has lost his child? They have all the technology tools in the world. He’s not dead? Then bring him to me,” Dura told The Guardian.

This week, Israel released an official report commissioned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the 55-second TV broadcast by France 2 - aired 13 years ago - was nothing but a propaganda exercise.

Talal Abu Rahma, the cameraman who filmed the incident, rebuked the Israeli report.

As Dura and his son took refuge behind a concrete water barrel, diagonally across from the Israeli Defense Forces post and round the corner from Palestinian fighters, he tried to raise his hands and wave to ask them to stop.

“I could see the soldiers in the tower but they didn’t stop shooting,” he said.

“I was only thinking about one thing: how to protect my son. He was scared. When he was shot by the first bullet, I was telling him, don’t be afraid, the ambulance will come. He said, I’m not afraid, you don’t be afraid. When he fell across my lap, I realized he was dead. These seconds felt like hours, days.”

Local reporters at Shifa hospital in Gaza City insist that they saw the child’s corpse in the morgue.

Guardian correspondent Suzanne Goldenberg, who visited the scene of the shooting soon after, said there were “15 bullet holes on a cinder block wall, and a smear of darkening blood.

“Aside from the circle of bullet holes – most of them below waist level – the expanse of wall is largely unscarred. This appeared to suggest that the Israeli fire was targeted at father and son.”

Israel, which retracted an earlier statement that “apparently the boy was hit by our fire,” challenged the cameraman’s eye-witness account. It said that in the final few seconds of the footage, the son was seen “raising his arm and turns his head in the direction of [the cameraman] in what are clearly intentional and controlled movements.”

The report also alleges that “the boy labeled as Mohammed al-Dura in photos from the Shifa hospital autopsy, and the one borne aloft at what was allegedly Mohammed al-Dura’s funeral, has different physical characteristics than the boy seen crouching behind the barrel in the France 2 footage.”

His father said: “I don’t hate Israel, I hate the occupation. I am for peace. War is against humankind. I don’t want others to lose their sons. Which parent doesn’t want their children to grow up safe and secure?”

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Last Update: Friday, 24 May 2013 KSA 14:05 - GMT 11:05
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