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2000: Shocking images of boy shot in Gaza

There has been a shocked and angry reaction around the world to TV pictures showing the death of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy caught in Israeli-Palestinian cross-fire on the Gaza Strip.

The footage shows the boy, Muhammad al-Durrah, shot in the arms of his father who was trying to shield him.

His terrifying last moments were captured by French television.

The shocking images, played repeatedly on television, show Muhammad and his father, Jamal, cowering behind a small metal barrel as bullets rain around them.

Jamal can be seen waving desperately at the Israeli soldiers on the other side of the road, as his son screams, obviously terrified, by his side.

Eventually both were hit - Muhammad four times. His father survived but was also critically wounded.

An ambulance driver who came to their aid 45 minutes later was also reported to have been shot and killed.

Flashpoint

The tragedy happened at Netzarim junction, one of the worst flashpoints on the Gaza Strip, on the intersection between a Palestinian-controlled main road and a route controlled by the Israeli army leading to a Jewish settlement.

The father and his son were unarmed, and appear not to have been part of the rioting.

Relatives say they were returning from Gaza's popular used-car market and were trying to get home to the Buriej refugee camp where they live.

The boy's death came at the height of clashes between Palestinian and Israeli police in Jerusalem and throughout the occupied territories.

The violence began after a highly controversial visit two days ago by hardline Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon to Jerusalem's holiest site, the compound around Al-Aqsa mosque.

The site and its compound, known as Temple Mount to Jews and Haram al Sharif to Muslims, is sacred to both religions.

Yesterday, Israeli riot police stormed the mosque inside the walled compound, opening fire on stone-throwing worshippers.

The move was described by Palestinians as the start of a "religious war" over the disputed shrine.

The United States President, Bill Clinton, appealed for calm after today's violence, which left 16 people dead, including two Israeli soldiers, and more than 500 injured.

"This issue must be solved at the negotiating table and not in the streets," he said.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have stumbled since the failure of talks at Camp David in July over disagreement over the fate of Jerusalem.

In Context
Images of the killing of Muhammad al-Durrah caused an international outcry.

Israel expressed sorrow at the death but accused the Palestinians of making "cynical use" of children in clashes with Israeli troops. The Israeli Defence Force's subsequent investigation into the killing found that Mohammad and his father could not have been within range of the Israeli soldiers.

There have been other investigations since which have looked at claims the shooting was faked and even that the boy was never killed. The incident is still the subject of great controversy.

In the following five days of bloodshed, two more Palestinian children, one 10 years old, the other just two, were killed.

On October 12 two Israeli reservists were beaten to death and their bodies mutilated by a Palestinian mob in Ramallah. In revenge Israel sent in helicopter gunships to attack the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

It was the beginning of a wave of violence which became known as the second Palestinian intifada (uprising), or by some as the Al Aqsa intifada.

By the end of the first year of the intifada, more than 800 people had died.


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