On 30 September 2000, 11-year-old Muhammad Al-Durrah was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip. His father Jamal, who tried to shield his son from a hail of bullets, was wounded in the incident. The boy’s killers have never been brought to justice.
Two days earlier, on 28 September, the then leader of the Israeli opposition Ariel Sharon (1928-2014), marched into the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa Mosque with a number of right-wing Israeli officials protected by 2,000 military policemen. Palestinian Muslims inside Al-Aqsa Mosque protested at his provocative visit.
The images of the brutal police response to the demonstration cause outrage among Palestinians everywhere and led to the Aqsa Intifada. The uprising lasted until February 2005 and almost 5,000 Palestinians were killed, including just under 1,000 children.
On the day that Muhammad Al-Durrah was killed, a group of angry Palestinians approached the Israeli settlement of Netzarim in the middle of the Gaza Strip which was still occupied at the time. They threw stones at the Israeli occupation soldiers who set up a military checkpoint at its eastern gate.
As the boy and his father sought shelter behind a small concrete structure, Jamal Al-Durrah screamed at the Israeli soldiers to stop shooting at the child. His cries were ignored, and Muhammd was hit several times and died on his father’s lap.
The images of the shooting flashed around the world. Nevertheless, not a single international organisation has ever called for the child’s killers to be put on trial for his murder. Campaigners for justice for the people of Palestine point out that, 19 years after Muhammad Al-Durrah’s murder, Israel continues to kill Palestinians, including children, with impunity.