It happened exactly eleven years ago. Twelve-year-old Muhammad Al-Durrah hid behind his father, Jamal, as they crouched behind a concrete cylinder meters from an Israeli military tower. The two were caught in a skirmish between soldiers with Israel’s Givati Brigade and suspected Palestinian resistance fighters. Jamal waved his arm to indicate that he was an unarmed civilian but the gunfight didn’t end and the nearest ambulance could not approach him. Seconds into the footage captured by freelance cameraman Talal Abu-Rahma, the Israeli soldiers directed their gunfire towards Muhammad and his father. Less than a minute later, Muhammad slumped over his father’s legs and died. Jamal himself suffered serious wounds but eventually recovered. A Palestinian police officer and an ambulance driver were also killed (off-camera).
I was nine years old when I first watched the footage, younger than Muhammad but still able to comprehend the situation and its implications. It wasn’t my first exposure to the occupation of Palestine but it was definitely one of the most moving.
Abu Rahma, the cameraman who captured the footage, was interviewed by National Public Radio the day after the attack. Here is an excerpt from his interview:
Abu Rahma: “Then I find, I hear something. ‘Boom!’ Really is coming with a lot of dust. I looked at the boy, I filmed the boy lying down in the father’s lap, and the father really, getting really injured, and he was really dizzy. I said, “Oh my god, the boy’s got killed, the boy’s got killed,” I was screaming, I was losing my mind.”