Israeli group hopes to cancel French journalists' credentials

Right-wing legal advocacy group intends to petition High Court against France 2 reporters.

By MARK WEISS
October 2, 2007 00:47
2 minute read.
Israeli group hopes to cancel French journalists' credentials

Muhammad al-Dura 224.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

 
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A right-wing legal advocacy group, the Israel Law Center (ILC), intends to petition the High Court of Justice in the coming days and demand that Government Press Office director Danny Seaman revoke the Israeli press accreditation of France 2 TV reporter Charles Enderlin and Gaza-based cameraman Talal Abu-Rahma. ILC was not satisfied with the letter they received from Seaman last month rejecting its request that the GPO withhold press cards from the two. In his response, Seaman was extremely critical of the channel's coverage of the death of 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura, who was shot and killed during a fierce gun battle at Gaza's Netzarim junction on September 30, 2000. Viewers around the world were shocked by the France 2 network footage, which showed a terrified al-Dura and his father cowering in front of a wall amid a furious firefight between IDF troops and Palestinian gunmen. Seaman accused France 2 of manipulating the footage to make the IDF look responsible for the boy's death. ILC's director, attorney Nitzana Darshan Leitner, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that there was a discrepancy between Seaman's scathing attack on the journalists' conduct and his decision to continue to allow them to hold official GPO press cards. "Danny Seaman described the France 2 coverage as a 'blood libel' against Israel, admitting the footage was staged in a clear case of fraud by a reporter who was not even at the scene," Leitner said. "If you use this language, you cannot allow them to continue working as journalists in Israel." Leitner noted that the station still stood behind its coverage of the event, which turned al-Dura into a potent symbol of the second intifada uprising. The ILC will argue in court that until the station admits they made a mistake and fabricated the events surrounding the killing, the GPO should withhold press accreditation to the reporter and cameraman involved. Al-Dura's father, Jamal, told Israel Radio on Tuesday that he was prepared to exhume his son's body to ascertain whether Israeli bullets killed him. The IDF initially apologized for the death, but then conducted an inquiry which concluded that the child could not have been hit by IDF bullets. Last month, an appeals court judge in Paris gave France 2 until November 14 to show the court 25 minutes of unedited video footage from the scene. The IDF reopened the contentious affair by asking France 2 to turn over the unedited footage of the boy's death, in connection with a legal dispute in France between the network and Philippe Karsenty, a media watchdog who accused it of staging the incident. Enderlin and the TV network have filed a libel suit against Karsenty. A French judge ruled in favor of Enderlin last year, but Karsenty appealed. No decision is expected in the appeal before February, officials said. Enderlin branded Seaman's accusations "false" and accused him of "blatant interference with the judicial process" in an attempt to help Karsenty. "We stand by our story," he said. AP contributed to this report.

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