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Impunity, denial and requests for independent investigations in al Durrah’s killing

Rewriting history in the Israeli narrative is as simple as refusing calls for independent inquiries into the countless crimes of the occupation. Years after Muhammad al-Durrah’s death in 2000, claims that the child is ‘still alive’ have resurfaced, despite Israel admitting responsibility for the child’s death in the past. Footage aired by France 2 depicts Muhammad al-Durrah and his father cowering behind a barrel, as they find themselves trapped in crossfire and unarmed. The film as now been denounced as staged and forming part of Palestinian propaganda – according to Netanyahu, who set up a committee to investigate the circumstances ‘in the light of continued damage it has caused to Israel’. Israel has also requested that France 2 relinquishes its ‘fabricated footage’.


What has barely resonated in relation to the renewed efforts to establish ‘truth’ is the Palestinian willingness to submit to an independent enquiry – a stance echoed by France 2 and reporter Charles Enderlin. The boy’s father, Jamal al-Durrah, has demonstrated his willingness to exhume his son’s remains and collaborate with an international investigative committee.

As has been stated by various authors and researchers, Israel reserves the right to conduct internal investigations without any obligation to provide a detailed insight to other parties concerned. The compilation of information excludes Palestinians from giving testimony, despite atrocities committed against them. Israel has perfected the art of exonerating itself from blame. At the same time, it claims moral damage against the (Palestinian) state and refuses, as it has on other occasions, the presence of an international committee to oversee their investigations; which would also take into account Palestinian memory.

The contrast between the Israeli and Palestinian narrative is stark. On one hand, Palestinians acknowledge the intertwining of their recent history with the ramifications of the illegal occupation, thus validating their resistance. On the far end of the spectrum, Israel continues to disassociate itself from the existence of Palestinians, manipulating concepts of state and territory, demographics and race, according to the immediate circumstance. In the case of al-Durrah, initial responsibility has divested itself of blame, eliminating the killing of al-Durrah from the national narrative as if the mere existence of the child was nothing more than an inconvenience threatening to damage the foundations of an allegedly legal state.

Hundreds of Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli soldiers, yet in the case of Muhammad al-Durra, the presence of footage depicting the awareness of terror has been a source of damaging propaganda, according to Israel. If visuals favour the Israeli narrative of ‘terrorists’ and the necessity of ‘security coordination’, footage is glorified and Israeli state violence is negotiated as a necessary issue. A depiction of helplessness and a yearning for an independent inquiry has elicited conspiracy claims, to the point where identity, existence and death have become negligible in relation to Israeli allegations of Muhammad al-Durra being ‘still alive’. Unless an independent investigation is carried out, another sliver of Palestinian memory risks being relegated to oblivion, sacrificed in a selfish quest for impunity within decades of sanctioned murder in the name of Zionist ideology.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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