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Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Qana controversy

The horrible news of a building that was destroyed in Qana today has been broadcast all over the world today. At the first glance, the picture appears fairly straightforward: the Israeli military fires a missile at the building, it collapses, scores of victims are burried in the rubble. Yet the reports on the incident are far from unanimous. This post is just a short summation of the different perspectives. I do not know what happened there but every time reports differ so wildly one is forced to think that not all is clear about the event in question.

According to Haaretz,
The Israel Defense Forces convened a press conference Sunday evening, admitting that while the IAF did indeed strike the building in which the civilians were killed, the attack itself occurred near midnight, while reports of an explosion and the structure's collapse were only received at around 8:30 A.M.

The air force did resume bombing Qana at 7:30 A.M., however the strikes were carried out on targets at a distance of 460 meters from the building.

"The question we don't have an answer to is what happened between 12 midnight and 8 in the morning," said IAF Brigadier General Amir Eshel.

Lebanese villagers in Qana who were witness to the bombing, however, say that the building's collapse occurred in the wee hours of the night.

Witnesses at the scene corroborated the IDF claim that the strike on the building, which is located in the Hariva neighborhood of Qana, was carried out at 1:00 A.M. After the initial strike, some of the building's residents exited in an attempt to survey the damage, in effect saving themselves.

A few minutes later, IAF planes struck the building once again, causing the walls to collapse on the residents who did not vacate, killing them in the process.

Arab media began reporting on the incident after dawn Sunday, approximately seven hours after the strike. The reports did not note, however, that the building collapsed a short time prior to Arab journalists' arrival on the scene.
Roughly the same scenario as that relayed by General Eshel was described by some of my Israeli webfriends. Some of them believe that the reason for the collapse of the building was an explosion of some of the Hezbollah's ordnance as according to some reports a missile-carrying vehicle was seen entering the parking garage under the building during the night.

According to IsraelInsider,
Israeli missiles, most fired from combat helicopters, struck this southern Lebanese village early Sunday. One missile hit near a large apartment building, with the concussion causing its collapse. CNN's Ben Wedeman, who was at the site, reported that no ordinance actually hit the building, but hit the ground nearby, creating a large crater. He speculated that the concussive impact cause the nearby four-story apartment to collapse.

I have thus far been unable to find Wederman's reporting on this in his own words.

The situation seems fairly confusing to say the least. This is about the only thing that can be said for certain. And in a case like this one must not exclude any reasonable hypotheses - including the one that Hezbollah had caused this deadly accident, or even set the explosives off on purpose, in order to present Israel as a plausible perpetrator and score a major PR coup. Such a turn of events is by no stretch an impossibility - one needs to look no further that the famous February 1994 Sarajevo market bombing or, for that matter, the events of 9/11.

For the record, I don't have an opinion as to what happened this morning in Qana. However, the very fact that the story most widely circulated - that the building's collapsed was a direct result of the Israeli attack - has so many inconsistencies associated with it is reason enough to take it with a grain of salt.

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