Report on IDF shooting of Palestinian boy during intifada may cause Israel more damage than good 21May13 May 21, 2013

Haaretz      -     20 May 2013

1545353541The report of the committee investigating the “coverage by French TV station France 2 of the Mohammed al-Dura affair, its results and implications”, which was presented Sunday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is probably one of the least relevant documents written by the Israeli government in recent years.

The fact that 13 years have elapsed since the incidents addressed in the report took place turned the submission of the report into a surreal affair. Netanyahu recited slogans about “a campaign of de-legitimization directed against Israel” and Minister Yuval Steinitz, who had no part in preparing the report, muttered a few words about a ‘blood libel’, and everyone present felt very righteous.

The person who advocated for setting up the committee and who chaired it was Yossi Kuperwasser, director general of the Ministry for strategic Affairs. Kuperwasser, who was the Intel Officer at Southern Command and later head of research and analysis for Israel Defense Forces intelligence , has been waging a 13-year long public relations campaign against the Palestinians. For better or worse, his attention to the al-Dura affair became an obsession, leading to a suspicion there might be a conflict of interest.

The result of the committee’s work was a document for the extremely meticulous. It is doubtful whether even a hundred people in Israel or worldwide are sufficiently familiar with all the intricate details of the incident as to be able to follow the convoluted arguments by the authors of the report. Furthermore, the document contains no new evidence that might significantly impact the accepted version. Even the new interpretation given to some of the old findings seems groundless. For example, Dr. Ricardo Nachman, deputy director of the Israel’s National Forensic Institute, determined, based on viewing poor quality video footage, that Mohammed al-Dura wasn’t shot and killed in that incident.

The expert opinion which was attached to the report reads like a report by a movie critic and not by a pathologist. “The final scenes, in which the boy is seen raising his head and arms, bringing his hand to his face and looking into the distance, are not compatible with death throes but seem like voluntary movements”, wrote Nachman. “One doesn’t need to be an expert to see that”.

The impression is that the report was written for use within Israel. The evidence and arguments that were presented might convince the already convinced, but no more than that. The committee could not present any ‘smoking gun’ evidence showing the 25 year old al-Dura sunbathing on a Gaza beach. Not even close. Any thought of getting such a report to change the globally accepted narrative after 13 years is akin to trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube.

The report was seemingly a campaign of revenge by the State of Israel, directed against a single journalist from the France 2 network, Charles Enderlin, who first reported the Muhammad al-Dura incident. Committee members tried to saddle Enderlin, who is an Israeli Jew who served in the IDF spokesman’s bureau and whose two sons served in the IDF, with all the problems of Israel and the Jewish people.

The committee went even further and hinted at Enderlin’s responsibility for the massacre of Jewish schoolchildren in Toulouse. “His report inspired many terrorists and contributed to the demonization of Israel and to the rise of anti-Semitism in Moslem and Western countries”, wrote committee members. “In some cases the implications were deadly”.

The damage done by this report could be greater than any doubtful utility. Its publication, accompanied by an international public relations campaign only threatens to awake sleeping dogs. If international press picks up on the report, it could lead to a renewed discussion around Palestinian children getting hurt during IDF operations.

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