Ballistics and Bullets Analysis
The term “Ballistics” describes the study of the projectile dynamics. This section explores the evidence regarding the trajectory of the bullets that Talal Abu Rahma videotaped hitting the wall behind the Al Durahs, in relation to the allegation that Israeli soldiers fired hundreds of bullets at Muhammad and Jamal Al Durah over a 45 minute period, as the pair sheltered behind a barrel at Netzarim Junction. Twelve to fifteen bullets were alleged to have struck the Al Durahs, killing Muhammad and grievously wounding Jamal.
Not a single bullet – or even a bullet fragment – has ever been produced to corroborate these claims. Despite Jamal Al Durah’s admittance to Shifa Hospital in Gaza following the alleged shooting and his transfer to The King Hussein Medical Centre in Amman Jordan, not a single one of the nine to 12 bullets alleged to have entered his body was recovered. None of the three bullets alleged to have struck Muhammad Al Durah was recovered, during his autopsy by Shifa hospital pathologist Dr. Abed El Raqez El Masry.
France2′s footage of the incident, filmed by Talal Abu Rahma, remains the only phhotographic record of the incident itself. It was solely upon this footage – and Abu Rahma’s characterization of its content — that France2 based its claim of a shooting. Not a single shot alleged to have struck either of the Al Durahs is captured on the video. Of the “hundreds” of bullets alleged to have been fired by Israeli soldiers at the Al Durahs, only three shots are seen striking the wall behind the Al Durahs. Ballistics experts — including France’s leading ballistics expert, Jean-Claude Schlinger — based upon the dust signature of these shots clearly visible in the video, determined that these shots could not possibly have come from the Israeli position – and were fired from areas that we know were manned by Palestinian gunmen.
A cloud of dust on the ground well in front of the Al Durahs¬¬ – apparently kicked up by a single burst of automatic weapon fire– is observable toward the end of the video sequence. However, the source and caliber of the fire cannot be determined. No change in the number of bullet holes in the wall by the Al Durahs before and after the burst is visible when the dust clears.
Only Palestinian “security forces”, Palestinian militants and photographers cooperating with them could approach the scene following the alleged shooting. The Palestinian authorities tasked with the investigation of the alleged shootings simply assumed the conclusion of their “investigation” – and thus excused themselves from conducting one.
Although Talal Abu Rahma first claimed that he filmed bullets at the scene – and then claimed France2 collected bullets – Abu Rahma never produced any film of the bullets or samples of them. Abu Rahma also could not or would not answer any of journalist Esther Schapira’s questions about the bullets, when Schapira interviewed him a year after the incident. Indeed, when Schapira pressed Abu Rahma to disclose the length and type of bullet he filmed, his reaction was to smile and say that France2 had “some secrets for ourselves”.
“Secrets”? Really? Tala Abu Rahma, accused IDF soldiers of killing Muhammad Al Durah in cold blood. France2 disseminated video with narration by Charles Enderlin, who knew the footage would inflame great passion – and, indeed, moved that narrative forward. What would justify or explain France2’s keeping “some secrets for ourselves”, if it had any? Since France2 is a French government funded media network, Israel requested through diplomatic channels any bullets that France2 collected. None was ever produced.
In essence, there are several testable claims about the shooting that allegedly targeted the Al Durahs – We will analyze the claims one by one, to test their internal consistency and plausibility. Such analysis is fundamental to any serious evaluation of the claims’ veracity. We will also test the plausibility of these claims against external photographic evidence.
Claim No. 1: The Israelis fired hundreds of bullets, specifically targeting Muhammad Al Durah and his father, Jamal Al Durah.
Progenitors of the claim
Talal Abu Rahma (the Palestinian France2 cameraman who filmed the scene), claimed that the Israeli soldiers fired “hundreds of bullets” at the Al Durahs.
The distance between the Israeli base and the barrel by which the Al Durahs were sitting was less than 120 meters. In addition, the base is about a 30 degree angle relative to where the Al Durahs were sitting.
If Talal Abu Rahma’s claim the Israelis fired hundreds of bullets at the Al Durahs from that distance were true, then there should have been hundreds of bullet markings on the wall and barrel near the Al Durahs. However, the contemporaneous video shot by Abu Rahma shows clearly that Abu Rahma’s claims are wild exaggerations, at best. Even Abu Rahma’s claim that he counted 40 bullets in just the wall the following day raises serious questions. Here is a picture of the wall at the end of the alleged shooting as filmed by Abu Rahma. There are only eight holes in the wall at that point.
Note that all of the holes pictured here are fairly round, which indicates that they must have originated from a point nearly perpendicular to them – and, therefore, not from the IDF position – the only location where Israeli soldiers could have fired from that day.
If the shots causing these holes had come from the direction of the Israeli position, as claimed by Abu Rahma and Charles Enderlin, the holes would have been elliptical in shape.
Claim No. 2:
Progenitors of the claim
Claim No. 3:
Progenitors of the claim