Thursday, August 03, 2006

Qana: missing rocket alert

Where are the rocket launchers?

Liberal leadership candidate Michael Ignatieff, waking from a three-week doze, is "not losing sleep" about the massive civilian casualties in Qana. That's what happens, he said, when "you have rocket-launchers within 100 yards of a civilian population."

Ha'aretz, on the other hand, noted some revisionist history in the making a few days earlier:

As the Israel Air Force continues to investigate the air strike, questions have been raised over military accounts of the incident.

It now appears that the military had no information on rockets launched from the site of the building, or the presence of Hezbollah men at the time.

The Israel Defense Forces had said after the deadly air-strike that many rockets had been launched from Qana. However, it changed its version on Monday.

The site was included in an IAF plan to strike at several buildings in proximity to a previous launching site. Similar strikes were carried out in the past. However, there were no rocket launches from Qana on the day of the strike.

The rabid Right, meanwhile, began to fantasize conspiracies akin to those of the Twin Towers "inside job" theorists. It was staged. It never happened. Hezbollah did it. There was a gap between the time the bomb fell and the time the house collapsed! There's a clean pacifier on that dead child! Alas for the credibility of these foamy bloggers and print commentators alike, Israel has now admitted the obvious. In these situations, a judicious use of Occam's Razor is always best.

The "human shields" meme had been advanced yet again, of course, although this blanket knee-jerky claim, made every time a Lebanese civilian dies, is now in some dispute. In this case the building was bombed, we are told, because the IDF thought it was "a hiding place for terrorists." Qana and the area around it, the IDF claims, have been a staging-ground for 150 rocket attacks against Israel.

The usual suspects are still clinging to the "nearby rocket-launcher" theory, even as the IDF has evidently abandoned it. The problem is that evidence of Qana as launch-pad is a little thin on the ground. The IDF has devastated the area, but not a single rocket-launcher has come to light. Where are they? In Syria with Saddam's WMDs?

Certainly the smoking gun has yet to be found in or around Qana. Last word to one of the Qana survivors, Muhammad Mahmud Shalub:

"All four roads to Qana village had been cut by Israeli bombs," he said, which would have made it difficult, if not impossible, for Hezbollah to move rocket launchers into the village.

"If they [the IDF] really saw the rocket launcher, where did it go?" Mr Shalhub asked. "We showed Israel our dead. Why don't the Israelis show us the rocket launchers?"

No comments: