Published on Sunday, October 1, 2000 by Agence France-Presse
Pictures of Death of Palestinian Child Plunge Israel into Embarrassment
JERUSALEM - Shocking pictures broadcast by television channels the world over showing the death of 12-year-old Palestinian Rami Jamal al-Durra Saturday in the Gaza strip -- apparently killed by Israeli bullets -- have plunged Israel into deep embarrassment.

The scenes filmed Saturday by a cameraman from the France Two channel, first show the child huddled up with his father, as they both hid from the gunfire.

Young Boy Killed While His Dad Tries To Protect Him [see additional photos]
A heavy gunfight had just broken out in front of the Netzarim Jewish settlement between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian policemen.

The father, Jamal, can be seen begging those who were firing -- apparently Israeli soldiers -- not to shoot.

He tries to find protection between a pile of stones at the foot of a wall, then a burst of gunfire starts, the child slumps slowly onto his father, who is in turn seriously injured.

The film does not show who fired, but the shots seem to come from the Israeli position.

The Israeli army issued an statement overnight in which it deplored the death of the child, but said it "condemns the cynical use of women and children led into areas of confrontation."

"We have opened an inquiry to shed light on what happened. We are not certain that the child was killed by Israeli troops and it is possible that he was killed by mistake by Palestinian fire," Israeli military spokesman Yarden Vatikai told AFP.

He categorically ruled out the idea that the child could have been killed intentionally, despite the father's begging for the shooting to stop.

For its part, the Palestinian press accused Israel Sunday of having committed "a crime in cold blood," expressing satisfaction that the pictures had been seen throughout the world, including in Israel.

The child's father, who was questioned at his hospital bed, said he had gone to look for a car and was caught up in the gun battle by chance. He said that the ambulance come to help him was held up for 45 minutes at an Israeli roadblock.

Sunday, the names of two other Palestinian children were added to the list of victims of the troubles in the territories.

The first, aged 10, was declared "clinically dead" after being shot in the head in Rafah in the south of the Gaza strip. The second, aged seven, was hit in the heart by a stray bullet in Nablus in the northern West Bank, while he was on a roof. Initially, it was announced that he was also 10.

Israel's image had already taken a hammering during the Intifada -- the Palestinian uprising of 1987 to 1993 -- with a film showing Israeli soldiers beating young Palestinians with rifle butts, trying to break the bones of their arms and legs.

Copyright 2000 AFP