Aug 02 2006
Jefferson Morley a the Washington Post asks some good hard questions of us bloggers who have raised legitimate question regarding the Qana incident. First off, we need to define the term
‘staged’. In my mind much of this incident was precipitated and exploited by Hezbollah. Did a terrible trajedy befall two families. Of course. In fact my outrage was more on the use of a dead baby as a propaganda prop (definitely a criminal act and a war crime) than my outrage at Hezbollah enticing attack on civilian areas by shooting rockets from these areas (another criminal act and war crime). Here is the question posed by the Morely:
The follow-up questions for the bloggers touting the alternative theory are obvious:
Who killed the Hashems and Shalhoubs, if it wasn’t an Israel bomb? Korvet and the other bloggers don’t offer any theories.
How did Hezbollah truck in bodies to the Qana site without the pervasive Israeli aerial surveillance catching it on film? Israel has released footage of what it says are Hezbollah fighters firing rockets from the area. Presumably, the Israeli Foreign Ministry is not covering up the story.
My answer to Morely is you totally missed the point of the questions. First direct answers with no dodging. Israel was attacking Hezbollah, who hides out amongst non-combatants. I would say Hezbollah killed these people (since fields and hills are within a kilometer of the village). But any fair person would lay blame on both at least. And the claim of bringing bodies from a morgue was a result of incorrect reporting of the time of the collapse. No one is saying that anymore.
While some, including myself, latched onto the evidence of rigore mortis to question the source of the bodies, it was in response to early reporting of a 8 AM building collapse. Later we learned that the building was attacked around 1 AM and collapsed a short time later. This later correction explained the situation with the bodies. In fact much of the early reporting was as erroneous as our reasonable observations. As I noted in this post the death toll is believed to be half has high as reported and it happened in a home at the outskirts of Qana and not a four story building in the center of Qana – as reported. These errrors in reporting led others like myself to speculate from bad information. If reporters can correct their errors, people like us who speculate on that information should be given the same leeway to revise our views based on the new information.
So what was staged? Well Hezbollah has clearly used that village for military purposes, which include rocket launches and possibly arms stashes. The first and largest war crime in this incident is that Hezbollah was ever in Qana, and not out in the nearby fields and hills like a normal army would be. We have pictures and testimonial proof that Hezbollah sites Israeli bombs and artillery on citizens by shooting and scooting before the damage is done. And this proof came out before any bombs fell on Qana – so this is not form-fitting evidence to reach a foregone conclusion.
And there is no doubt the pictures have a staged quality to them. The series of photos, as EU Referendum displayed, shows a baby and a child be paraded around rubble in the center of the village – even though they supposedly died in a house on the outskirts. And these were the worst of the photos being stage crafted – many other less strident pictures tell a story of set up props (see here and here). I know Israeli bombs killed these poor children. And I know Israeli bombs were targetted there thanks to Hezbollah’s criminal acts of fighting from within civilian centers. And I am really confident the blue pacifier on that poor dead child’s shirt did not come through the devastation that blanketed that same child with dirt and debris. The crime of exploiting a dead baby’s corpse like that is sufficient moral rational to demand answers. The question is why is the media defending such acts instead of joining in the outcry. The first trajedy was the child’s unnecessary death, thanks to Hezbollah. The second trajedy was explouting that child’s corpse for propaganda. I don’t need a conspiracy theory to find out if the Lebanese man in the picture was indeed a Hezbollah PR expert, and whether the photographers at the scene played into his stagecraft (knowingly or naively). What I want is clear evidence of the timing of those photos, clear admission some of them I have pointed to were clearly staged, and some explanation about that brand new, clean pacifier hanging on a dead baby’s corpse for all the world to be exploited with. Answer the war crimes charges and I will rescind my concerns and admit I erred. But not until then.