Joel Mowbray

In the seven years since the start of what the Palestinians call the “intifada,” perhaps no incident has inspired more Western criticism of Israel, nor generated as much terrorism against the Jewish state, than the supposed cold-blooded murder of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Durra on September 30, 2000.

The video of a terrified Mohammed taking refuge behind his father before being shot and killed generated a firestorm of Western criticism, and the Israeli public was just as outraged. Palestinians, meanwhile, used the apparent murder as a rallying cry for murderous riots and terrorism.

But that video was released before the ascendancy of the blogosphere, back when the mainstream media rarely challenged stories aired by other outlets. In the intervening years, criticism of the original report has mounted, and some are even asking a rather shocking question: Did Mohammed al-Durra actually die?

Now, almost seven years later, a civil lawsuit is doing what other outlets should have done at the time, casting a critical eye on the validity of the original story, which was aired by the France 2 television network.

Although many bloggers have raised serious doubts about France 2’s reporting—none better than Boston University professor Richard Landes—full analysis has not been possible, since the network has never aired the 27 minutes of “rushes,” the raw, unedited footage shot that day by France 2 cameraman Tala Abu Ramah.

That’s finally about to change.

Last week a French appeals court ruled that France 2 must show, in an open courtroom later this fall, the entire 27 minutes of “rushes.”

The order represents a key procedural triumph for Frenchman Philippe Karsenty, who is appealing a verdict last year that found him liable for defamation against France 2 and reporter Charles Enderlin.

But not clear yet is how much of a victory Karsenty actually scored. Most observers of the case don’t believe that he will be able to take possession of a copy of the full 27 minutes of raw footage. It seems the likeliest outcome is that the “release” of the video will consist of it being played in court, and possibly also shown separately to experts chosen by the court.

While having the 27 minutes of unedited footage finally being subject to a public viewing is crucial for Karsenty, it would not be as powerful or beneficial as taking possession of a copy of the video. Without the ability to watch the outtakes as much as desired, Karsenty’s capacity for thorough critical analysis would be curtailed.

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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