Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Israel's Defense of Gaza Shelling Fails The Smell Test

A couple of days ago I linked to the weasel-mouthed apology offered by Israel after shelling a bunch of kids on a picnic at Gaza beach.

Today, many rightwingers and even the Moderate Voice are linking to a report in the Jerusalem Post that says the Israeli Defense Force have concluded that it was a Palestinian landmine that blew up the Palestinian family.

Case closed and I issue an apology for being so nasty to the IDF, right?


Here's today's Guardian:
a former Pentagon offical sent by the New York-based Human Rights Watch to investigate the death of the family has concluded that there is little doubt they were killed by an Israeli shell. "All the evidence points to the fact that it couldn't have been a mine," said Marc Garlasco, a former Pentagon expert on battlefields who led the US military's battle damage assessment team in Kosovo and worked for its intelligence wing, the Defense Intelligence Agency.

"You have the crater size, the shrapnel, the types of injuries, their location on the bodies. That all points to a shell dropping from the sky not explosives under the sand."

The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported that the army concedes that five shells landed along a 250-metre stretch of beach and that a sixth shell is unaccounted for. But it says that an eight-minute gap between when the sixth shell was fired and when the Palestinians say the family was blown up means there is no connection between the two.

The army says that aerial pictures of the blast crater show it is more likely to have been made by a mine under the sand than a explosion from above.

Ha'aretz said the military report also claims that a decision by Palestinian doctors to remove shrapnel from the bodies of some of the wounded before they went to Israel for treatment is an attempt to cover up the source of the wounds.

But after investigating the scene, Mr Garlasco concluded that the army's explanation is deeply flawed. Among the new shrapnel he collected at the scene of the deaths is a piece stamped with the figures: 155MM.

"The 155mm shell is what Israel uses in the howitzers that regularly shell northern Gaza," he said.

"The Israelis have been postulating that it's a land mine. I've been to hospital and seen the injuries. The doctors say they are primarily to the head and torso. That is consistent with a shell exploding above the ground not a mine under it." Palestinian doctors agreed.

Mr Garlasco said the crater where the family was killed closely resembles others scattered the length of the beach caused by Israeli shells. Each is lined with a white power left by the explosion, including the one where the family died.

A crucial weakness in the army's version is its inability to account for the sixth shell in the barrage that hit the beach. The Palestinians and Mr Garlasco say it would be a remarkable coincidence for the army to drop five shells in the area and within minutes for a Hamas land mine to have exploded just 120 metres away.

"To say you have five or six rounds in an area and coincidentally there's a land mine next to it and it goes off at the same time is asking a lot," he said.
Do you think Garlasco might just be a damn well qualified expert, given his experience? I do.

Then there's the simple smell test. Have a look at the original IDF "apology" I quoted in the link above. The IDF were originally trying to say that they had only fired six artillery shells that day and none had been towards the Gaza beach. Then someone pointed out that in the last two months Israel has fired an average of 100 shells a day into Palestine and it was stretching credibility all out of shape to suggest that on this day only six shells total had been fired.

So then the IDF admitted that the six shells had all been fired at the Gaza beach and that they couldn't account for the exact impact site of one of them - but insisted that it hadn't been their shell and made up some nonsense about landmines,something the Palestinians have never done on Gaza beach before - otherwise it wouldn't be a good picnic spot, Duh! I smell bullsh*t.

The IDF report is a plain coverup, and a bad one. That it doesn't pass the smell test is obvious, as is the realisation that when you become a rightwing blogger you must have to check-in your logic at the gate.

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