An independent, court-appointed French ballistics expert last week further discredited claims that in a September 2000 gun battle in Gaza, Israeli forces shot and killed Mohammed al-Dura, a Palestinian child who has since become a symbol of the Arab cause against the Jewish state.
Jean-Claude Schlinger, who has been an advisor on ballistic and forensic evidence for French courts for 20 years, recreated the scene of the battle based on video footage and eyewitness accounts.
In his report to the court, Schlinger insisted that al-Dura and his father, who were hiding behind large metal barrels, could not possibly have been hit by Israeli fire during the battle.
Schlinger further wrote that he doubts the al-Duras were hit by gunfire at all, be it Israeli or Palestinian, noting that the father, Jamal al-Dura, later presented wounds that he could not possibly have sustained from his position behind the barrels.
Schlinger confirmed his findings in a conversation with Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper.
Schlinger's testimony will help to bring about a verdict in an appeal by independent media analyst Phillipe Karsenty against damages awarded in 2006 to France 2 Television and its Middle East correspondent, Charles Enderlin. France 2 and Charles Enderlin sued Karsenty for libel after the latter asserted that Enderlin's television report on the brutal slaying of Mohammed al-Dura had been staged.
In January, the judge presiding over the current case demanded to see all of Enderlin's raw video footage, which revealed that at the time al-Dura was purportedly being mercilessly shot by Israeli soldiers, pedestrians were passing by the scene apparently undisturbed by any gunfire.