On the anniversary of Muhammed Al-Durrah's horrific killing, his father breaks silence on UAE-Israel normalisation

On the anniversary of Muhammed Al-Durrah's horrific killing, his father breaks silence on UAE-Israel normalisation
Muhammad Al-Durrah's father spoke out against the UAE normalisation deal, 20 years after his son was shot dead by Israeli forces.
4 min read
30 September, 2020
Jamal Al-Durrah spoke out about normalisation [YouTube/Arabi21]
As Palestinians mourn 20 years since the iconic killing of 12-year-old Muhammad Al-Durrah, his father spoke out Arab states normalising relations with Israel.

Footage of the 12-year-old Al-Durrah's death by Israeli fire in September 2000, during the Second Intifada, caused global outrage at the time.

The terrified boy died in his father's arms, who appeared to lose consciousness after fatal shots were fired.

In an interview with Arabic-language news outlet Arabi 21, Jamal Al-Durrah said normalisation is the ultimate betrayal. He refused to mention Israel by name and referred to it as "the entity."

"Let me tell you about just one of Israel's sinister intentions behind the specific timing in which they chose to carry out the normalisation," Al-Durrah said.

"Why around that time? Why in September? Because normalisation happened just before the anniversaries of Sabra and Shatilla and Ariel Sharon's storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque."

"At this time is also the martyrdom of Mohammed Al-Durra. They gave this entity (Israel) recognition during a time of continuous Palestinian grieving," he said.

On 16 September 1982, Israeli-allied militiamen from the right-wing Lebanese Christian Kataeb Party and the South Lebanon Army conducted a massacre inside Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatilla in Beirut.

Up to 3,500 people were killed in the three-day attack which continues to be remembered by Palestinian and Lebanese survivors alike. 

The anniversary of then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon's storming of al-Aqsa Mosque, which took place on 28 September 2000, remains a momentous issue to Palestinians. 

Speaking directly to the states normalising with Israel, Al-Durrah said: "You gave them the right and legitimacy to take what is left of Palestine and to kill all of our people. You gave this entity an immunity to kill the rest of the Palestinian nation."

"Normalisation is betrayal of the blood of the martyrs and those in prison," Al-Durrah urged.

'They shall never prosper'

Al-Durrah said normalisation under the guise of bilateral security is not an excuse and is a strategy that will backfire on the normalising states.

"Normalisation with this entity (Israel) is tantamount to an occupation of Arab lands, and an occupation of those countries' resources and goods," he explained.

"I promise these normalising countries will not prosper and they will soon find the entity will rob and plunder them.”

Anti-Palestinian racism

In March 2019, a psychiatrist who frequently appears on Saudi TV to discuss on popular issues, said Mohammed Al-Durrah's family did not deserve the sympathy they got.

"When Muhammad Al-Durrah died my reaction was different... I was not emotional but reacted logically and I saw that they did not deserve all those donations as there were other poor families who were more in need," said Tarek Al-Habib. 

"When the child died the family's expenses actually decreased... so why send all those donations to the Durrah family when there are other poor families with more family members deserving more of that charity?"

After the UAE normalised relations with Israel, the photo of Al-Durrah's killing began to circulate amongst Emirati social media circles. Some pro-government accounts attempted to claim it was a fake Palestinian conspiracy because they could not identify blood.

'Betraying Palestinians'

In August, US President Donald Trump announced the UAE had become the third Arab country and first Gulf Arab state to normalise ties with Israel, with Bahrain following suit shortly after.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country is in talks with other Arab and Muslim leaders about normalising relations.

The UAE's decision to normalise ties with Israel has been welcomed by some Arab countries, but despite cheerleading from the US, others have rejected the idea and many approach it with caution.

The Palestinians have condemned the deal as "a stab in the back" by a major Arab player while they still lack a state of their own.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was on a Middle East visit last month, expressed optimism that more Arab nations would also sign up.

Recent reports suggest Sudan is also discussing the prospects of a move to normalise relations with Israel.

Diana Alghoul is a journalist at The New Arab.

Follow her on Twitter: @SuperKnafeh and Instagram: @flowerknafeh