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Critics Say French TV Network Broadcast Fabricated Footage in Gaza, Again

Media analysts are feeling a sense of déjà vu as reports of doctored and staged footage, which critics say creates propaganda for terrorists, begin surfacing from Gaza again.

France 2 Public Television aired video showing the purported aftermath of an Israel Air Force strike in the Palestinian territory, which has been under siege by the Israeli military for more than two weeks. But the footage was actually amateur video shot during a 2005 incident involving Gaza civilians killed in an explosion caused by militants.

The footage shows dozens of bodies, including Hamas gunmen and civilians. In the report, the narrator claimed the victims were killed in an Israeli bombing raid. But it soon surfaced that France 2 had erroneously aired the 3-year-old aftermath of the explosion of a gruck filled with ammunition and incendiary devices.

Click here to see the phony footage.

Alerted to the error, France 2 executives admitted the mistake, calling it an "internal malfunction" and formally apologizing to viewers on air. France 2's head of news reporting, Etienne Leenhardt, described the footage misuse as an error, saying the sequence was "intended to illustrate the war of images on the Internet. The people who put it together worked too fast."

Click here to see the apology.

But that provides little comfort to Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president and founder of The Israel Project in Washington. According to Mizrahi, France 2 committed an additional infraction of late: Staged footage.

In a report maintaining people are starving in Gaza, Mizrahi said, France 2 showed a Gaza resident in a food store saying: "Apparently, there is nothing, as you can see. There are no natural products for the kids. There is no milk. There is nothing here."

But, upon closer inspection, shelves filled with food can be seen in the reflection of a refrigerator door.

"France 2 has taken a line that is very anti-Israel and they are using what some call 'Pal-lywood' — the Palestinian use of Hollywood techniques to create what didn't happen," Mizrahi said, adding that there are two different wars happening in Gaza.

"Both are life and death, but one involves military personnel and operatives and the other is a media war waged to win hearts and minds."

France 2 did not respond to calls for comment.

This isn't the first time France 2 has come under scrutiny for questionable coverage. In 2000 the state-owned network was accused of staging now-iconic footage of a Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Durrah, crouching behind a barrel in Gaza with his father Jamal, trying to escape Israeli-Palestinian crossfire.

Young Mohammed was initially reported to have been killed by Israeli gunfire. But that claim was later disputed by investigators who questioned the lack of forensic evidence and gaps in video footage at the time of death.

French media analyst Philippe Karsenty took the case a step further, calling the al-Durrah footage a staged hoax. France 2 won a defamation case against Karsenty in 2004, but the ruling was overturned last year by a Paris Court of Appeal that said Karsenty had presented a "coherent mass of evidence."

During a visit this week to Ashkelon, a southern Israeli city that has been the target of Hamas rocket attacks, Karsenty said it is time France 2 "pays the price."

"It's a disgrace to see French Public Television still making up stories and lies instead of reporting the news accurately. They're taking sides and working for the propaganda machine of a terrorist organization," Karsenty told FOX News.

"This is further proof that you can't always believe the pictures coming out of Gaza at the moment," Honest Reporting Managing Editor Simon Plotsker told FOX News. "Hamas is controlling the images coming out for their own morale; they play up civilian casualties to use as propaganda against Israel."

Says Mizrahi: "The media needs to be careful because a correction on page A-14 versus a front page spread doesn't do justice to the damage already done in public opinion."