"We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians." – Nelson Mandela

A look back at Muhammad al-Durrah, a 12 year old Palestinian boy shot to death in his father’s arms by Israeli Military force during the Second Intifada

Muhammad al-Durrah died on September 30, 2000 during the second day of the Second Intifada. Jamal al-Durrah and his 12-year-old son, Muhammad, were filmed by Talal Abu Rahma, a Palestinian cameraman freelancing for France 2, as they sought cover behind a concrete cylinder after being caught in crossfire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian security forces. The footage, which lasts just over a minute, shows the pair holding onto each other, the boy crying and the father waving and shielding his son, then a burst of gunfire and dust, after which the boy is seen slumped across his father’s legs, dead.

Muhammad and Jamal under fire which is coming from the Israeli position. The Israeli Defense force accepted the responsibility at first and Israel initially apologized for for the boy’s death, however later claimed that it was probably not them who kiiled the boy.

The camera goes out of focus as a burst of gunfire is heard.

As the dust clears, Muhammad lies across his father’s legs. This was the last frame of the al-Durrahs that was broadcast by France 2.

Muhammad sustained multiple gunshot wounds, killing him. Time magazine said he had received a fatal wound to the abdomen which was confirmed by pathologist Dr Abed El-Razeq El Masry, who said the boy’s intestines had been expelled.

Jamal, Muhammad’s father, was reported to have been struck by several bullets, some of which were removed from his arm and pelvis. Dr Ahmed Ghadeel of the Al-Shifa Hospital said Jamal received multiple wounds from high-velocity bullets striking his right elbow, his right thigh, and several locations in the lower part of both legs; his femoral artery was also cut. He was filmed by Talal Abu Rahma for France 2 at the hospital the day after the incident. Dr Ghadeel was also interviewed, showing x-rays of Jamal’s right elbow and right pelvis. Jamal’s Israeli employer offered to have him taken to an Israeli hospital, but the Palestinian Authority, or Jamal himself, declined the offer, instead, he was flown to King Hussein Medical Centre in Amman, Jordan, where he was visited by King Abdullah. Doctors there said his right hand would be permanently paralyzed. The nature of his injuries was questioned in 2007 by an Israeli doctor, who maintained he had treated him for some of the scars presented years earlier.

The Israelis are claiming that this whole incident was made up and that the boy’s death was real, but had been staged to besmirch Israel’s reputation. The position of the Israeli government and IDF changed over time, from accepting responsibility in October 2000 to retracting that admission in September 2007. Some Israelis are claiming that the Palestinian gunfire caused the young boys death, or that no one knows who did while others claim that the incident was staged by the Palestinians for propaganda purposes and that the boy may not be dead at all, or may have been killed as part of the staging. While some claim that the young boy could be seen “peeking” at the camera. Charles Enderlin cut a final few seconds from the end, causing Israeli critics make up a ridiculous and false theory that the boy “appears to lift his hand away from his face”, thus allowing critics to falsely say he was peeking at the camera. However, Enderlin said he cut the final scenes in accordance with the France 2 ethical charter, because it showed the boy in his death throes (“agonie”), which he said was “unbearable”.

Fifty-nine seconds of the footage were initially broadcast in France with a voiceover from Charles Enderlin, France 2’s bureau chief in Israel, who did not witness the incident himself but got all information by phone from the cameraman, telling viewers that the al-Durrahs had been the “target of fire from the Israeli positions,” and that the boy had died. Enderlin based his allegation that the IDF had shot the boy on the report of the cameraman, Abu Rahma. Speaking of the Israeli Military Force Abu Rahma states: ” They were aiming at the boy, and that is what surprised me, yes, because they were shooting at him, not only one time, but many times.” (The Guardian) Abu Rahma said shooting was also coming from the Palestinian National Security Forces outpost south of the junction, behind the spot where Jamal and Muhammad were crouching, but he said they were not shooting when Muhammad was hit.

On October 1, 2000 Abu Rahma stated the following on National Public Radio:

“… I saw the boy getting injured in his leg, and the father asking for help. Then I saw him getting injured in his arm, the father. The father was asking the ambulances to help him, because he could see the ambulances. I cannot see the ambulance … I wasn’t far away, maybe from them [Jamal and Muhammad] face to face about 15 meters, 17 meters. But the father didn’t succeed to get the ambulance by waving to them. He looked at me and he said, “Help me.” I said, “I cannot, I can’t help you.” The shooting till then was really heavy … It was really raining bullets, for more than for 45 minutes. Then I find, I hear something, “boom!” Really is coming with a lot of dust. I looked at the boy, I filmed the boy lying down in the father’s lap, and the father really, getting really injured, and he was really dizzy. I said, “Oh my god, the boy’s got killed, the boy’s got killed,” I was screaming, I was losing my mind. While I was filming, the boy got killed …”

The claims Israel is making about this all being staged is complete and utter nonsense.

What the Israelis do not realize is that the Palestinians do not have to put on a fake incident in order to make the Israeli’s look bad. The Israelis are already making themselves look bad and besmirching their own reputation. They are making up all these ridiculous conclusions and lies in order to make them seem like the good ones and refuse to accept the fact that they murdered a young and innocent little boy in his own father’s arms.

No father would agree to put his son in such a dangerous position just so a film could be made in order to ruin the Israeli’s reputation. However, the Israelis decide to make up such a lie in order to once again make themselves seem like the innocent ones.

After the incident and the funeral Muhammad was hailed throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds as a martyr. During the funeral young Muhammad’s body was wrapped in a Palestinian flag. His face was exposed, carried through the streets of the refugee camp in front of thousands of mourners.

Young Muhammad is a hero.
A true martyr.
A true shaheed.


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