Probing Root Causes Of Mideast Violence

Knesset Member Cites 'Preconceived Conclusions' Of Re-enactment

A re-enactment of the tragic shooting death of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy undertaken by an Israeli general who thinks it exonerates his men is drawing sharp criticism from Israelis.

In a 60 Minutes report, Israeli military analyst Hirsh Goodman told Bob Simon nothing will change the world's perception that young Mohammed Aldura was killed by Israeli army gunfire.

Simon reported about the root cause of the violence between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in Netzarem Junction in Gaza, where the boy died last month.

Aldura's death, which occurred while his father tried to shield him from crossfire was captured by a French television camera and has become a rallying image for Palestinians. It's also an image the Israeli army may never live down.

Gen. Yom-Tov Samia, commander of the forces blamed for it, said his re-enactment proves his men did not fire the fatal shots. "We are not shooting kids. I am very sure (Aldura and his father) were shot from the Palestinian side," Samia said.

60 Minutes cameras videotaped the re-enactment, consisting of soldiers firing weapons at dummies against a wall built to resemble the death scene. Israeli helicopters destroyed the original wall and apartments after the shooting because they said Palestinian gunman had used it for cover.

Reports say the Israeli army's chief of staff, Gen. Shaul Mofaz, assured Knesset members that Samia acted alone and that the army was investigating his actions. It has been reported that the scientists used by Samia were not ballistic experts and that at least one of them was convinced that Palestinians shot Aldura before they began the project.

The Ha'aretz newspaper quoted Knesset member Ofir Pinnes as saying, "It seems that instead of dealing with the incident and drawing harsh conclusions, the army preferred to conduct a fictitious reconstruction...with preconceived conclusions."

Even if Samia could produce real evidence to support his belief, it would be useless anyway, said Goodman, a senior fellow at Israel's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. "The damage has been done. We are perceived as the guilty party here," he said. "All the charts and all the tables and all the explanations are not going to change the Tiananmen Square image of one man in front of a tank or one young boy of 12 years old being shot in crossfire."