Karsenty Wins Libel Case By France 2TV – He Accused Them Of Knowingly Misleading World To Believe Israel Killed Palestinian Youth Al-Durah
May 22, 2008






The French Court of Appeals on Wednesday found in favor of journalist and media analyst Philippe Karsenty, overturning a lower court decision that he had libeled France 2 TV and its Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Charles Enderlin, when he accused them of knowingly misleading the international public into believing that Israeli soldiers deliberately killed a Palestinian Arab boy, Muhammad al-Durah in the Gaza Strip on September 30, 2000. Both the allegation of Israeli wrongdoing and the death of the boy turned out to be fabricated.


Al-Durah’s alleged death was filmed by a local Palestinian cameraman, Tala Abu Rahma, and the mere 55 seconds of selected footage from his 27 minutes of filming became the basis for a story by Enderlin, who had not been present on the scene at the time. The 55 seconds of footage shows al-Durah and his father seeking cover behind a concrete barrel and, allegedly, cowering from a hail of bullets until the boy apparently “dies” and his father is severely wounded.  The broadcast, basing itself on Abu Rahma’s words, claimed that the boy was shot by Israeli troops. The video, taken by Palestinian cameraman and France 2 stringer Talal Abu Rahma, showed al-Dura hiding, and then cut to footage of him lying, apparently dead, at the junction. It did not show the child killed.


However, the accusation that Israeli forces deliberately targeted a boy (and his father) whom they had clearly seen, was debunked by investigations; and evidence that already came to light before the latest court case, and which demonstrates that al-Durah’s death did not occur, included the following:


  • The 55 seconds of Abu Rahma’s footage that was publicly broadcast does not show al-Durah dying or any bloodstains where the boy and his father were crouched, nor any ambulance evacuating them.

  • No autopsy was ever performed on Muhammad’s body.

  • In the weeks that followed the event, physicist Nahum Shachaf conducted investigations on behalf of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)’s Southern Command. Both men separately proved mathematically and physically that the IDF forces on the ground could not see al-Durah and his father from their outpost and that it was physically impossible for their bullets to have killed al-Durah.

  • 3 hours of raw footage from Reuters and Associated Press taken in the vicinity at the time showed dozens of Palestinian boys attacking Israeli guards’ posts with stones, Molotov cocktails and projectiles, appliances etc. Yet, if the IDF had wanted to deliberately kill children, it could have easily done so, yet none were killed and al-Durah was the only one allegedly killed on the scene.

  • It is impossible to conclude that al-Durah was killed during the time the scene was filmed because an additional 3 seconds of film, widely distributed on the internet, shows him, following his alleged death, raising his elbow and right leg, turning his head and looking around furtively, then putting his head and elbow back in position, but leaving his leg suspended in the air (FrontPageMag.com, August 29, 2007).

  • Al-Durah’s father was allegedly wounded in the arm elbow and leg – but no blood appears in the footage.

  • The cameraman, Talal Abu Rahma, claims that the IDF were firing for an astonishing 45 minutes at al-Durah and his father, which is not only absurd but, if true, would have resulted in many wounds, bloodstains and bullet marks that are simply not present in the footage.

  • The al-Durahs were sheltering themselves from gunfire behind a concrete barrel and were not visible to IDF soldiers in the guard post from which they were allegedly shot.  Furthermore, there were no bullet holes on the side of the barrel facing the al Durahs. (FrontPageMag.com, August 29, 2007).

  • Respected media organizations like the Wall Street Journal, CBS News, Atlantic Monthly and Commentary magazine published detailed investigations that all concluded that the footage was either staged or simply edited to show something that did not happen.

  • On October 2, 2002, a German television documentary film by Esther Schapira called Three Bullets and a Dead Child: Who Shot Muhammad al-Durah? was broadcast which concluded that IDF bullets could not have killed Al-Durah.


France 2 TV sued Mr. Karsenty for alleging that the broadcast of al-Durah’s alleged death was a hoax, using an 1881 law created to protect people from defamation by the media to protect itself from such allegations. However, the French Court of Appeals called upon France 2 to show the court Abu Rahmah’s raw footage which lies at the heart of the accusation against the IDF. France 2 found itself forced to cut the most embarrassing scenes before showing the footage to the court, and to explain to the court why the remaining footage had so many suspicious scenes.


Following the court decision, Mr. Karsenty said, “It is ironic that I, a private individual, had to lecture one of France’s most influential TV stations in order to demonstrate that a child cannot move, lift his head, arm and leg, stare at the camera and still be considered ‘dead’ a good 10 seconds after the newscaster tells us… ‘the child is dead.’ One need only look at France 2’s own footage to realize that the ‘death’ scene was faked” (Richard Landes, ‘Karsenty Strikes Blow for Freedom in Al-Dura Case,’ Pajamas Media, May 21, 2008).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “It is long overdue to have a measure of justice in this long-running blood libel against Israel and by extension the Jewish people, which was targeted worldwide on account of this dishonest and false report purporting to show how a Palestinian Arab boy was allegedly murdered by Israeli soldiers. It is moreover a victory for democracy and accountability that France 2 was not permitted to continue sheltering behind illiberal libel laws that prevent investigation and critical commentary of questionable journalistic stories and was compelled to release at least part of the evidence it possessed all along.


“It was always deeply suspicious that France-2, if it truly believed its story to have been correct and truthful, refused till now to release the footage which ought to back up its case and instead attempted to silence and penalize those who, like Philippe Karsenty, had raised legitimate and searching questions about its story. Even without seeing the full 27 minutes of France-2 footage, which it had simply refused to publicly release, it was already clear that it is impossible that IDF bullets killed al-Durah. (For a detailed discussion of this very point, see the article by the former chief presidential speechwriter for Jimmy Carter and now National Editor of the Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows).


“It is perplexing that the Israeli government has not made an issue of the Al-Durah blood libel since it occurred. Not only was there a clear necessity to do so, in view of the extraordinarily bad press Israel earned from this defamation, but because the evidence pointing to the fraud has been in government hands already within weeks of the event. We urge the Olmert government to take this opportunity to make public the fact that, not only was this a libel against Israel carried out by a Palestinian cameraman and a willing bureau chief, but that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has regularly defamed Israel through bogus stories of alleged Israeli atrocities. The public needs to know that the PA has made fraudulent claims for years in an effort to demonize Israel – something that in itself reveals its lack of fidelity to the idea of peace-making.


 “The evidence of this PA record is abundant. It is has been demonstrated on several occasions that the PA and other terror groups have deliberately staged propaganda incidents involving non-existent massacres, like that supposedly  occurred at Jenin in April 2002 in which PA officials claimed that 5,000, then 1,000, then 500 Palestinian civilians had been killed. (In fact, 52 Palestinians, at least 30 of them combatants, were killed in the heart of a civilian area in a ground battle which also claimed the lives of 23 Israeli soldiers). The PA has been known to present live bodies as corpses and stage armed confrontations in collaboration with sympathetic media. Or, to give another example, the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah last year mounted an elaborate hoax in which an ambulance was made to appear as if it had been deliberately targeted by Israeli forces, only this hoax was quickly exposed. Or, again, in June 2006, when a girl, Hoda Ghalia, and six other members of her family were allegedly killed on a Gaza beach in an explosion for which the PA accused Israel, although the IDF had not been conducting any operations in the area. It has also been reported that Palestinians have been filmed on stretchers taken to and from ambulances, with the supposed casualties then climbing off unhurt when the news cameras have left the scene.


“The Court judgment is a victory for justice, free speech, and media accountability and for Israel. It also exposes the extraordinary length the Palestinians will go to demonize Israel and Jews.”


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