Israel's Military: Durrah was most Likely Killed by Palestinian Fire

Published November 28th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Palestinian boy Mohammed Durrah was most likely killed by a Palestinian policeman and not by Israeli fire, Maj.-Gen. Yomtov Samia was quoted by the Jerusalem Post newspaper as saying.  

"A comprehensive investigation conducted in the last weeks casts serious doubt that the boy was hit by IDF fire. It is quite plausible that the boy was hit by Palestinian bullets in the course of the exchange of fire that took place in the area," Samia said.  

"The investigation results are not conclusive, but the possibility that they were shot by Palestinians is higher than that they were shot by Israelis," Samia declared.  

The military official said the "conclusions were based on an in-depth analysis of all information the IDF could gather about the clash that took place at Netzarim junction on September 30."  

However, he added a number of questions about the incident remain, including why the boy and his father, Jamal, came to the intersection when there already had been shooting there for several hours, and why they did not flee, as many others did.  

Samia showed footage of unarmed people fleeing the area near the boy and his father on foot during the shooting, said the paper.  

In the meantime, Samia criticized the Palestinian Authority and French television station France 2 for not cooperating with the investigation.  

"The PA rejected a request to conduct a joint investigation and France 2 refused to allow the IDF to examine the footage it had shot at the scene," he said.  

France 2's Middle East correspondent, Charles Enderlin, disputed this, saying they had only received informal requests for the footage and had never received an official request, according to the paper.  

He also said that the station's cameraman had reported that both he and the Durrahs were located in areas that were under Israeli fire.  

Samia explained that the investigating team found that soldiers were only shooting from the Magen-3 building, and there was a "low probability" that they were capable of hitting the Durrahs, who had taken cover behind a wall on the diagonally opposite side of the intersection, said the paper.  

According to the paper, an analysis of the bullet holes in the wall behind the two found that the bullets were shot from the area from which Palestinians were shooting.  

Samia explained that this analysis was done by studying photographs of the wall during the battle and comparing them to marks made by bullets shot from various angles into a reconstruction of the wall built at a shooting range in the Beersheba area.  

In addition, the film of the incident shows that the boy and his father were hit by a volley of bullets. However, "the IDF soldiers were firing only single shots and did not use automatic fire."  

Samia emphasized that the "IDF had never claimed responsibility for Mohammed's death." 

"The IDF had expressed regret for the death of a child during the firefight, and the media and PA interpreted this as an admission of responsibility, he said.  

Samia denied that the investigation was a media ploy, saying he appointed a committee of professionals to investigate the incident because he was interested in determining the truth, according to the paper.  

"The main reason we conducted such a serious investigation is to demonstrate to our soldiers that we highly value the life of children... that we are not an army that just kills children," he said, adding that "had IDF soldiers been found to be responsible, action would have been taken against them."  

The Israeli official presented background information on Mohammed's family, said the paper. 

Meanwhile, the Israeli military official claimed that Jamal had been attacked several times because he was suspected of both drug trading and collaborating with Israel, according to the paper.  

He was wounded in the attacks and spent six months in a wheelchair, said the paper. 

“The family's home, located on the main street in El-Bureij in Gaza, was destroyed about a decade ago as part of an operation that followed the lynching of soldier Amnon Pomerantz, the paper quoted Samai as saying - Albawaba.com 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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