dimanche 24 avril 2011

French Justice Scrutinized Jamal Al Dura’s Wounds

On September 30, 2000, France 2 TV aired a report about two Palestinians being caught in an alleged exchange of gunfire in the Gaza Strip. Charles Enderlin, Chief of the France 2 bureau in Jerusalem, commented his Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahma’s images:
« Jamal [Al Dura] and his son Mohammed are the targets of gunshots that have come from the Israeli position... Mohammed is dead and his father seriously wounded ».
Major General Yom Tov Samia, commanding officer in the Southern District, asked physicist Nahum Shahaf to investigate the alleged crime.

On November 27, 2000, after having read Shahaf’s report, Maj.-Gen. Samia concluded that Mohammed Al Dura was likely killed by Palestinian gunfire.

The Al Dura’s image became the mediatic icon of Intifada II. That blood libel vilified Israel.

Shahaf was convinced that the footage was staged.
Some journalists, including Stéphane Juffa, Editor in Chief of Metula News Agency (1), and German film director Esther Shapira, raised doubts about the authenticity of the footage.

On May 21, 2008, Philippe Karsenty, founder of a media watchdog group, who had written that the controversial footage was a forgery, won its trial against France 2 and Enderlin who had sued him for « defamation ».

On September 4 and 25, 2008, the French Jewish weekly magazine Actualité juive (1) published two articles authored by Clément Weill-Raynal, including an interview of Dr. Yehuda David, surgeon at Tal ha Shomer hospital in Tel-Aviv.

Dr. David asserted that Jamal al-Dura had been attacked with axes by Palestinians in 1992. He performed in 1994 a tendon transfer surgery from Jamal Al Dura’s left foot to his paralyzed right hand. Thus, according to the surgeon, Jamal Al Dura’s wound dated back to 1992, and not to 2000.

On September 9, 2008, Professor and Surgeon Raphael Walden wrote a letter listing Jamal Al Dura’s injuries according to a Jordanian medical file.

Jamal Al Dura sued Dr. David, Weill-Raynal and Actualité juive for « defamation ».

On February 8, 2011, the hearing was held before a Parisian Tribunal for about 10 hours.

Weill-Raynal described his in-depth investigation. He also listed Enderlin’s and Abu Rahma’s contradictories allegations, as well as incoherencies and discrepancies in their footage. He noticed that Prof. Walden never examined Jamal Al Dura.

Dr. David described the surgery he performed and why Jamal Al Dura could not medically have been injured by bullets in his foot and in his hand. He added that Jamal Al Dura’s scar in a buttock was the hallmark of a Palestinian punishment inflicted on alleged « collaborators » with Israel.

Journalist Hervé Deguine, who investigated the controversial footage for Reporters Without Borders in 2005, was sure that the Al Dura incident was real, although he never met Abu Rahma and Jamal Al Dura.

The President of the French Jewish umbrella organization, CRIF, Richard Prasquier, said that he had called for the establishment of an “independent investigative commission” on the Al Dura affair on July 2, 2008.

Retired Journalist Luc Rosenzweig spoke about the French state-run TV’s refusal of that commission.

According to Professor in medicine Marcel-Francis Kahn, who based his opinion on x-rays, Jamal Al Dura had been injured by Israeli bullets in 2000. Maître Alain Jacubowicz, Dr. David’s lawyer, ironically replied: « How can you be so sure that those x-rays are Jamal Al Dura’s? They don’t mention any date, any name of patient and hospital ». Maître Gilles-William Goldnadel, Weill-Raynal’s lawyer, recalled that the doctor was also a pro-palestinian militant.

The plaintiff did not attend the trial, and he was defended by Maître Orly Rezlan who stigmatized those who questionned the authenticity of the footage.

The Public Prosecutor Dominique Lefebvre-Ligneul recommended that the three judges drop the charges against the three defendants.

The defendants’ lawyers insisted on their clients’ serious investigations, legitimate questions and reliable sources.

The judges will pronounce their judgment on April 29, 2011.

Originally published  by Ami Magazine
Published in French here

(1) I was journalist for Actualité juive and Metula News Agency

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