Israel’s top court is being asked to revoke the media credentials of a French television station and reporter in the Mohammed al-Dura affair.
The Israel Law Center, a human rights organization, alleges that France 2 TV and reporter Charles Enderlin presented a fraudulent report claiming that Israeli forces shot and killed al-Dura on Sept. 30, 2000. The report said al-Dura, 12, and his father were caught in the crossfire between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen in the Gaza Strip.
At Monday’s hearing, Israel’s Government Press Office told the Supreme Court it could only revoke press credentials if national security were threatened.
Israel initially apologized for the incident, but later said an investigation showed its troops could not have struck the boy from their positions. During a defamation suit brought by a media watchdog group in France, footage showed that seconds after al-Dura was seen lying motionless and apparently dead in the arms of his father after supposedly being shot, the boy lifted his arm and peered through his fingers at the camera.
Enderlin denied allegations that his report was a fraud. He was not present during the shooting but made his report from the West Bank after viewing the tape. Enderlin said he checked his sources before releasing his report.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the director of the law center, said the law center will withdraw its request if the reporter and station admit their error. The report was “a blood libel against the State of Israel,” she told JTA.
Darshan-Leitner said the hearing was notable because the Israeli government acknowledged for the first time that the al-Dura broadcast was fraudulent.