The Muhammad al-Durrah incident took place in the Gaza Strip on September 30, 2000, on the second day of the Second Intifada, amid widespread rioting throughout the Palestinian territories. 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, then a burst of gunfire and dust, after which the boy is seen slumped across his father's legs.
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. After an emotional public funeral, Muhammad was hailed throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds as a martyr.
The footage of the father and son acquired what one writer called the power of a battle flag. According to James Fallows the "harshest version" of the case from the Arab side is that it proves the ancient blood libel, while the "harshest version" from the Israeli side is that it proves the Palestinians' willingness to deliberately sacrifice even their own children in an anti-Zionist war. The scene was evoked in other deaths. It was blamed for the October 2000 lynching of two Israeli army reservists in Ramallah, and was seen in the background when Daniel Pearl, a Jewish-American journalist, was beheaded by al-Qaeda in 2002. James Fallows writes that no version of the truth about the footage will ever emerge that all sides consider believable. Charles Enderlin has called it a cultural prism, its viewers seeing what they want to see.
- 1 al-Durrah family
- 2 Media figures
- 3 Netzarim junction
- 4 Report of attack
- 5 Controversy
- 5.1 Overview
- 5.2 Confusion about timeline
- 5.3 October 2000: IDF investigation
- 5.4 Questions about the footage
- 5.5 Esther Schapira documentaries
- 5.6 Allegations about father's injuries
- 6 Philippe Karsenty litigation
- 7 Impact of the footage
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
Jamal and Muhammad al-Durrah filmed by Talal Abu Rahma for France 2