AFP confirms veracity of debated Israeli abuse story
Agence France- Presse
AFP (Agence France-Presse) agency responded to criticism over a Jan. 25 photo showing an Israeli Army soldier driving a truck over the leg of an injured Palestinian construction worker, saying both the story and photo were valid.
A recent press release by the news agency said "after several days of thorough research [...] AFP wishes to confirm the veracity of both the picture and the accompanying photo caption."
Photos were taken by AFP photojournalist Hazem Bader during the Israeli soldiers' attempts to stop Palestinian construction workers from building on their land, defined as "occupied zone C" where Israel forbids any Palestinian construction from taking place. The caption to the photo showing an injured worker screaming in pain said an Army driver had intentionally driven over his legs. AFP Photo
Following the surfacing of the photos, the Israeli Embassy in Washington had asked all American newspapers "to consider ceasing to publish the photographs of Hazem Bader," claiming both the caption and the photo of the injured worker were untrue and "perhaps staged."
AFP said the Jerusalem bureau of the agency went back and consulted other press agencies that were present in the area and also revisited footage filmed at the location.
"Their [Jerusalem bureau reporters] trust in the events described by Hazem Bader is unequivocal," the press release read.
The official medical certificate by the doctors who treated the injured worker, Mohammed Abu Qbeita, was included in the press release, as well as a recent interview of Qbeita, conducted by AFP reporters.
"I started walking over to where my stuff was so I could get my phone and my ID card and that's when the tractor hit me. It hit me twice, first on my side, which knocked me over on the ground," Qbeita was quoted saying.
"Then it drove over one of my legs. I didn't see it coming. It went over one of my legs, one was under the wheel, the other one was outside it.
"I went to the hospital, they examined me and treated me and I have a medical certificate and I will show it to anyone who wants to see it. Anyone who wants can talk to me and take a picture of my leg and of me," Qbeita added.
"In the light of these inquiries and based on the trust we have in our photojournalist, AFP Management does not believe that this event could ever have been staged," the press release read.
There will be no further comment on the matter, the release stated. AFP Photo