The video of Jamal al-Durrah, the father, trying to shield his son while bullets were raining down on them was aired by France 2, and then it was widely broadcast, garnering international attention and widespread outrage and criticism of Israeli brutality.
Nevertheless, not a single international organization has ever called for accountability of child killers. 23 years after Muhammad Al-Durrah’s murder, ‘Israel’ continues to kill Palestinians, including children, with impunity.
But for Palestinians, the incident has been engraved in their memories as one of the most harrowing and defining images of the Second Intifada. Its heart-rending intensity and its fevered veracity put it beyond all rational understanding, but still one of the lasting images of how Israeli war machinery has ever treated the Palestinians.
Two days after the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000, Saladin Road was crowded with a momentous movement of Palestinian students who were going to school and lots of people were walking around as well.
At about 1 p.m., a group of angry Palestinians approached the Israeli settlement of Netzarim in the middle of the Gaza Strip, where Israeli occupation soldiers were stationed at a hot point in Saladin Road, harassing and obstructing people’s way. Shortly after, thousands of people started throwing stones at the Israeli military vehicles. And hour by hour it increased as Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets at people in an attempt to disperse them. 40 people were injured by rubber bullets and tear gas in an instant.
As the situation flared up, shooting started and bullets were flying around. People, including children, started to run quickly in search of shields to hide behind them. Ambulances were arriving and taking the injured away.
Due to the loud sound of the bullets which were raining overhead, no one could hear anybody, and children were scared to cross the roads as many corps were on the ground. People were running, and falling down; they didn’t know where the bullets were coming from, they were just trying to hide.
The Fatal Moment
Within an hour, the world was echoing with a tragic event that still resonates in the memory to this day. Two Palestinians, the father and his 12-year-old son, Muhammad al-Durra, were both crouched, compressed and trapped, between a low wall and a large metal barrel at the Netzarim Junction, while a barrage of bullets was raining over people’s heads.
They were hiding and the man was moving his hand and calling for help, vainly trying to shield his son from the bullets which were coming right at them. A boom took place and filled the space with white fog, the boy was alive then but injured in his leg. As the fog vanished, the boy was seen lying down on his father’s lap bleeding from his stomach and the blood was pooling under his legs. The father was shockingly sitting against the wall, not moving.
The ambulances failed to get in many times due to the intensity of the bullets. Ultimately, the father Jamal and his slain son Muhammad were taken by ambulance to the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza after an ambulance managed to reach the site where the boy was bleeding.
Within minutes, the shooting ceased and the boys started running left and right fleeing the scene in terrible conditions.
The Camera was Truer than the Israeli Narrative
For 13 years, the murder of Mohammed al-Durra remained a debated issue, with differing narratives from Israeli and Palestinian perspectives. ‘Israel’ then disseminated propaganda that the boy was killed by Palestinian security men during a crossfire in the Gaza Strip. Some analysts questioned the authenticity of the video footage, while others emphasized the broader context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the Second Intifada.
Abu Rahama, the photojournalist who captured the incident video and photos, was investigated several times about how true the images were.
The only answer he gave was “The camera doesn’t lie.”
The Israeli government tried to challenge the veracity of the video documenting the death of Muhammed al-Durra, accusing the news channel France 2 and its photojournalist Talal Abu Rahma of fabricating the events.
In 2013, a French court vindicated France 2 and Abu Rahma, ultimately upholding their defamation case against Philippe Karsenty, a French media commentator who had accused them of staging the video, and fining him 7,000 euros.
The incident had pooled international pressure on ‘Israel’ to address the Palestinian issue and engage in peace negotiations, as the incident was viewed as a humanitarian crisis that required urgent resolution.
However, the immediate aftermath of the Mohammed al-Durra did not lead to a breakthrough in peace efforts, nor did it contribute to finding a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The International actors increased their involvement in mediation efforts. However, the execution of Ad-Dura fueled Palestinian anger and resentment and sparked nationwide outrage, leading to angry protests and confrontations with the Israeli occupation army.
Following the horrible crime, the Palestinian resistance also witnessed an evolvement in its armed clashes. In the West Bank, the resistance moved to be individual rather than in groups. Therefore, stabbing operations took place in response to the Israeli army stalking of Palestinian fighters.
The Wound is Still Bleeding
23 years after the tragic incident, Israeli war crime machinery is still slaughtering Palestinian children in their houses in both occupied Palestine and the Gaza Strip.
47 Palestinian children have been murdered by Israeli occupation forces and settlers in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip since the beginning of 2023.
From the second Intifada outset in 2000 to six years later, at least 4973 Palestinians were killed, including 1,262 children, and over 10,000 children were also injured.
The footage of Muhammad was compared to other iconic images of children under attack such as the boy in the Warsaw ghetto in1943, the Vietnamese girl doused with napalm in 1972, and the firefighter carrying the dying baby in Oklahoma in 1995.
On Muhammed al-Durra’s anniversary, Palestinians also mourn the tragic death of 7-year-old child Rayan Sulaiman who found a similar tragic destiny on September 29, 2022, at the hands of Israeli occupation. The child died after being chased by Israeli soldiers. The child died of fear of Israeli forces.