French network apologizes for Gaza report

PARIS (JTA) — A French television network has apologized for erroneously broadcasting a false report on Israel’s Gaza operation.

Assisted by an anonymous posting, the French news blogger site Le Post proved a report Monday by France 2 television used an outdated amateur video of Palestinian casualties from an accidental truck explosion as current footage demonstrating the violence in Gaza.

France 2 also was responsible for a September 2000 report, accused of being a fake, of the supposed shooting death of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Dura, by the Israeli army.

In the new video, the truck in question contained bombs belonging to Hamas and exploded on Sept. 23, 2005. Intended to illustrate the extent of Web reports on the Israeli offensive in Gaza, the video shows dead bodies of toddlers being laid out on a white sheet.

By Monday, Etienne Leenhardt, the joint director responsible for investigative reports, apologized to Le Post journalists for "an error on our part."

"The person who prepared the topic went too fast," he said. "It reminds us that we must be very attentive on verifying sources."

Leenhardt told Le Post that the network would apologize on its Tuesday afternoon daily report.

Meanwhile, a committee of independent experts is being formed to decide whether the video of the al-Dura shooting is indeed a fake. That video roused anti-Israel and anti-Semitic feelings across the globe, even fueling the subsequent mob lynching of two Israeli soldiers.

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