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Father of shot Gaza boy disputes Israel report

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The father of a Palestinian boy shot dead in Gaza in 2000 said Monday he was willing to have his son exhumed to disprove an Israeli report denying he was killed by Israeli gunfire.

The report released on Sunday by Israel is "completely fabricated," Jamal Al-Dura, whose son Mohammed was killed almost 13 years ago, told AFP.

"The Israelis are lying and trying to cover the truth," he said, adding that he had asked for an international commission of inquiry into the incident.

"I'm ready... to open up the grave to examine the body and even the bullets that penetrated Mohammed," he said.

Television footage of 12-year-old Mohammed held in his father's arms near a Gaza crossroads at the start of the second intifada, or uprising against Israel, became a central component in the media war between Israel and the Palestinians.

The footage was broadcast by French news channel France 2 and seen worldwide.

Israel said the television report was "baseless", following an analysis of the raw footage which also casts doubt over how the boy died.

The report was released ahead of a ruling on Wednesday in Paris on a defamation case between France 2 reporter Charles Enderlin and Philippe Karsenty, director of watchdog group Media Ratings.

Enderlin's reportage shows the death of 12-year-old Mohammed in the arms of his father on September 30, 2000, after being caught in crossfire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the findings of the 40-page report by the ministry of international affairs and strategy on the incident as "truth" that could "prevail over lies."

"It is important to focus on this incident -- which has slandered Israel's reputation," he said in a statement on Sunday.

"This is a manifestation of the ongoing, mendacious campaign to delegitimise Israel. There is only one way to counter lies, and that is through the truth," said Netanyahu.

Netanyahu commissioned the report last year.

The Israeli findings say that "contrary to the report's claim that the boy is killed, the committee's review of the raw footage showed that in the final scenes, which were not broadcast by France 2, the boy is seen to be alive."

"The review revealed that there is no evidence that Jamal or the boy were wounded in the manner claimed in the (France 2) report, and that the footage does not depict Jamal as having been badly injured," the report says. "In contrast, there are numerous indications that the two were not struck by bullets at all."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130520/father-shot-gaza-boy-disputes-israel-report