A French-Israeli doctor accused of defamation by the father of Mohammed al-Dura, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy who became a symbol of the Second Intifada when he was allegedly killed in 2000, has won his appeal and has been cleared of all claims by the French Supreme Court.
At the start of the Palestinian uprising in 2000, a French television network broadcast a minute-long clip of the boy purpotedly being shot in an exchange of fire between Israelis and Palestinians in central Gaza. The voiceover indicated that the boy was killed by Israeli soldiers, but an investigation later suggested that Palestinian fire had killed him. Many others claimed the entire event was staged and the boy was never shot in the first place. In an effort to bolster his claim that Israelis had killed his son, Jamal al-Dura, the boy’s father, presented his own bullet scars, which he claimed were sustained during that same incident. But Dr. Yehuda David refuted al-Dura’s claim, saying he himself had operated on al-Dura in 1992, eight years before the incident, and al-Dura already had been scarred then (allegedly as a result of Hamas attacking him over suspicions he had cooperated with Israel).
Al-Dura sued David for defamation, and in 2011, a district court ordered the doctor to pay the Palestinian 13,000 euros in damages. This week, on appeal, France’s Supreme Court overturned that ruling and fully cleared David of all claims.
“I am very happy,” David said Wednesday, after years of fighting the French courts at his own personal expense in efforts to clear his name. “This is a clear victory, not just for me, but for all of Israel. A victory of the truth over Palestinian lies, over anti-Zionist Nazi propaganda.”
“This proves that you should always fight for the truth,” he said. “Israeli soldiers aren’t murderers, they are extremely moral, the most moral in the world. I hope that the world now learns that they can’t use lies to sue us. We will win in every courthouse.”
David said that he believed that the damage caused by those famous images of 12-year-old al-Dura supposedly being shot as his father holds him can be repaired, despite the global storm surrounding the incident. “There is always room for repair,” he said. “Someone once told me something that I think is true: The Dreyfus trial wouldn’t have been remembered if he had lost on appeal. It is remembered because he won. That’s how this will be. With this victory we have turned over a new leaf in public diplomacy with the Palestinians.”