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'No Hezbollah Rockets Fired from Qana'

Dahr Jamail | 01.08.2006 21:21 | Lebanon War 2006 | Anti-militarism | Sheffield | World

QANA, Aug 1 (IPS) - Red Cross workers and residents of Qana, where Israeli bombing killed at least 60 civilians, have told IPS that no Hezbollah rockets were launched from the city before the Israeli air strike.

The Israeli military has said it bombed the building in which several people had taken shelter, more than half of them children, because the Army had faced rocket fire from Qana. The Israeli military has said that Hezbollah was therefore responsible for the deaths.

"There were no Hezbollah rockets fired from here," 32-year-old Ali Abdel told IPS. "Anyone in this village will tell you this, because it is the truth."

Abdel had taken shelter in a nearby house when the shelter was bombed at 1 am. When the bombings finally let up in the morning, he went back to the bombed shelter to search for relatives.

He found his 70-year-old father and 64-year-old mother both dead inside.

"They bombed it, and afterwards I heard the screams of women, children, and a few men -- they were crying for help. But then one minute after the first bomb, another bomb struck, and after this there was nothing but silence, and the sound of more bombs around the village."

Masen Hashen, a 30-year-old construction worker from Qana who lost several family members in the air strike on the shelter, said there were no Hezbollah rockets fired from his village. "Because if they had done that now, or in the past, all of us would have left. Because we know we would be bombed."

Qana had been a shelter because no rockets were being fired from there, survivors said. "When Hezbollah fires their rockets, everyone runs away because they know an Israeli bombardment will come soon," Abdel said. "That is why everyone stayed in the shelter and nearby homes, because we all thought we'd be all right since there were no Hezbollah fighters in Qana."

Lebanese Red Cross workers in the nearby coastal city of Tyre told IPS that there was no basis for Israeli claims that Hezbollah had launched rockets from Qana.

"We found no evidence of Hezbollah fighters in Qana," Kassem Shaulan, a 28-year-old medic and training manager for the Red Cross in Tyre told IPS at their headquarters. "When we rescue people or recover bodies from villages, we usually see rocket launchers or Hezbollah fighters if they are there, but in Qana I can say that the village was 100 percent clear of either of those."

Another Red Cross worker, 32-year-old Mohammad Zatar, told IPS that "we can tell when Hezbollah has been firing rockets from certain areas, because all of the people run away, on foot if they have to."

While IPS was interviewing people in Qana at the site of the shelter Monday, Israeli warplanes roared overhead. Vibrations from nearby bombing rattled many buildings. At least three villages in southern Lebanon were attacked in Israeli air strikes Monday.

Following the international outcry over the air strike, Israel declared a 48-hour cessation of air strikes in order to carry out a military probe into the Qana killings.

Despite the false Israeli statement that it was halting its air strikes, Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon told Army Radio that the stoppage "does not signify in any way the end to the war."

Israel has rejected mounting international pressure to end the 20-day-old war against Hezbollah. The United Nations has indefinitely postponed a meeting on a new peacekeeping force for southern Lebanon.

While defending the Israeli air strike on the civilians in Qana, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman told the UN Security Council that Qana was "a hub for Hezbollah", and said that Israel had urged villagers to leave.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said in reply to questions in New York Monday that the bombing was "totally, totally its (Hezbollah's) fault."

Dahr Jamail
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Hide the following 5 comments

Painfully Obvious

01.08.2006 22:22

"We found no evidence of Hezbollah fighters in Qana," Kassem Shaulan, a 28-year-old medic and training manager for the Red Cross in Tyre"

Of course not! Those things are mobile. They fire from civilian locations and split before the bombing starts in hopes that the civilians will get killed. Not a very new tactic. Same Shiite different day.


Thats funny

02.08.2006 01:37

Coz i though Israel bombed them and have video evidence of tracking the rocket launch pad and bombing it just after the rockets were fired. Doesnt that mean that some evidence of Hezbollah fighters and equipment would be found??! Unless Israel made the whole story up. Its nothing new. Same tactic differrent Israeli.


More depressing reports

02.08.2006 10:22

This is grim reading:

By Sarah Meyer
30 July 2006

And this article looks at the spin comming out of Israel:

Tel Aviv and the Qana massacre: anatomy of a propaganda campaign

By Rick Kelly
2 August 2006

The Israeli government has responded to its massacre of almost 60 civilians, including 37 children, in the Lebanese village of Qana with a barrage of brazen lies, falsifications and slander against the innocent victims of the bombing.

Without even trying to be consistent, Israeli government and military spokespeople have variously claimed that: the building’s destruction was caused by Hezbollah explosives; Israeli missiles, aimed at Hezbollah rocket launchers, accidentally hit the residential building, in which the Lebanese civilians were taking shelter; the Israeli air force did target and destroy the building, but was justified in doing so because the civilians killed had been warned to leave Qana; and the women and children were being held as “human shields” in the building by Hezbollah.

All these lies are intended to cover up the reality that the Qana massacre was a calculated and criminal attack designed to terrorise the Lebanese people and permanently remove the largely Shiite population from the country’s southern regions. With the full backing of the Bush administration, the Israeli government of Ehud Olmert aims to reduce Lebanon to the status of a degraded protectorate.

Israel has committed countless war crimes in its three-week assault on Lebanon. Hundreds of civilians have been killed and thousands wounded, while more than three-quarters of a million people have been forced from their homes and turned into refugees. The massacre at Qana is only the worst atrocity in a campaign which has seen civilian convoys bombed, ambulances targeted, and United Nations workers murdered.

As news of the civilian deaths in Qana emerged early Sunday, the Israeli government quickly mobilised what the Jerusalem Post described as an “all-star team” of civilian and military spokespeople to “handle the foreign press”. The propaganda campaign followed the standard Israeli modus operandi after any Israeli Defence Force atrocity—no lie is too big, and no admission of guilt is allowed.

Government spokeswoman Miri Eisen was interviewed on CNN shortly after the images of woman and children being pulled from the rubble were first broadcast. “This is definitely a mistake,” she declared. “We did not target this building... The building itself was not targeted, as I said. The building itself was next to the rocket launcher sites and we are targeting all of those rocket launcher sites. This was a mistake, Israel deeply regrets this.”

The claim of an accidental strike is absurd. The Israeli air force is equipped with US-supplied precision missiles that hit targets with devastating accuracy. This has been demonstrated in recent weeks in the West Bank and Gaza, where numbers of Palestinians have received phone calls from Israeli military personnel warning them that their homes would soon be bombed as punishment for alleged militant activity. Minutes after these calls are made, the air force drops a bomb destroying the targeted houses, which are often located in densely populated areas. Moreover, in recent years, Israeli missiles have been used to assassinate scores of Palestinian militants in moving vehicles.

In Qana, at least five residential homes were destroyed on Sunday night as a result of a sustained Israeli artillery and missile attack. That many more civilians were not killed is solely due to the fact that almost all of the town’s 12,000 residents had fled in fear for their safety.

More evidence has emerged that the Israelis knew that children and other civilians were using the bombed building as a refuge. Survivors of the bombing have told the Los Angeles Times that their children played near the residential building as Israeli reconnaissance drones flew overhead. “For sure, the drones must have recognised that there were children playing in the area,” Mohsen Hashem, a 30 year-old resident, said.

After Eisen’s appearance on CNN, Israeli military spokespeople further embellished the story. Brigadier General Amir Eshel told journalists at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv that Israeli planes hit the building between midnight and 1 a.m. but that it had not collapsed, killing those inside, until 8 a.m. “The gap between the timing of the collapse of the building and the time of the strike on it is unclear,” he declared. “It could be that inside the building, things that could eventually cause an explosion were being housed, things that we could not blow up in the attack and maybe remained there.”

This so-called “gap” was immediately seized upon by Israel’s most shameless apologists. One popular right-wing Zionist web site, Israel Insider, described the Qana massacre as “Hezbollywood”, and accused Lebanese resistance fighters of planting the dead bodies in the building and then conducting a controlled demolition in order to blame the Zionist state.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, echoed this grotesque claim when he spoke to NBC’s “Meet the Press”. “I wouldn’t put it beyond that vicious, brutal, cynical terrorist organisation to have held those people there against their will after we’d repeatedly asked them to leave, so that they would actually be used as human shields, and maybe even, as farfetched as this may sound, for this to happen, because this serves nobody’s purpose, except Hezbollah and Iran,” he declared.

Tel Aviv’s attempt to deny responsibility for the building’s destruction was, however, quickly refuted by the facts on the ground. All of the survivors and Qana residents angrily rejected Israel’s claims, and insisted that the building’s collapse immediately followed the Israeli missile attack. The director of the Red Cross in the southern Lebanese city of Tyre also reported that he received news of the atrocity at 7 a.m., that is at least an hour before the building collapsed according to the Israeli military. Ambulances and medical crews took about an hour to reach the area due to ongoing Israeli air strikes and the destruction of roads and bridges.

By late Sunday evening it was clear that Israeli disavowals of responsibility for the deaths in Qana were falling flat—producing what one Tel Aviv newspaper described as a “public relations disaster”. The government and military then adopted another defence, to which they have since stuck, namely that the bombing was justified because Hezbollah rockets had been fired from Qana and civilians had been given prior warning to leave the area.

Israel released video footage purportedly showing Hezbollah rockets being fired from Qana and trucks allegedly transporting arms into civilian buildings. This footage was later revealed to have been taken on July 28—two days before the deaths of the civilians. Israel also admitted that none of the video material was of the building bombed on July 30. Officials have still not explained any connection between the footage and the building. Moreover, no evidence was later found in the rubble indicating that it had been used for military purposes.

“The footage we’re seeing, it doesn’t tie in,” Andrew Brookes of the International Institute for Strategic Studies told Britain’s Channel 4 news. “We see a truck here, we’ll see a missile firing there. But again we don’t see any mechanism for saying, well that relates to this pile of debris, this relates to the terrible catastrophe over there where people are lying maimed and killed. We don’t see any remains of missile trucks blown sky high, we see no evidence whatsoever of a missile capability.”

Tel Aviv’s defence of its attack on Qana is testament to the unabashed criminality of the Israeli government. Even if it were true that Hezbollah was firing rockets from the civilian building, the Israeli missile strike remains an atrocity and a war crime.

“Just because the Israeli military warned the civilians of Qana to leave does not give it carte blanche to blindly attack,” noted Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch. “The Israeli military seems to consider anyone left in the area as a combatant who is fair game for attack. Such consistent failure to distinguish between combatants and civilians is a war crime.”

Beirut-based journalist Robert Fisk told Democracy Now!: “Is it the case now that if you happen to live in a house next to where someone launches a missile, you are to be sentenced to death? Is that what Israel thinks this war is about? I’m sitting here, for example, in my house tonight in darkness—there’s no electricity—next to a car park. What if someone launches a missile from the car park? Am I supposed to die for that? Is that a death sentence for me? Is that how Israel wages war? If I have children in the basement, are they supposed to die for that?”

One can only imagine the outrage in Tel Aviv and Washington if Hezbollah, or Palestinian militants, were to issue a warning to a million Israelis to flee their homes, then justify random civilian deaths on the basis that the victims had received due notification.

Moreover, Israel’s claim that Hezbollah was using civilian areas in Qana to fire rockets cannot be accepted at face value. Local residents and Red Cross workers told the IPS news agency that no rockets had been fired before the Israeli bombing raid.

“We found no evidence of Hezbollah fighters in Qana,” Kassem Shaulan, a Red Cross medic and training manager said. “When we rescue people or recover bodies from villages, we usually see rocket launchers or Hezbollah fighters if they are there, but in Qana I can say that the village was 100 percent clear of either of those.”

No other nation-state is as well versed in the practice of the “big lie” as Israel. Unable to publicly admit the criminal nature of its geo-strategic ambitions in Lebanon and the Middle East, Tel Aviv is forced to resort to blatant cover-ups and falsifications in the aftermath of each atrocity. The Olmert government’s Qana propaganda campaign follows a long tradition of such operations in the history of the Zionist state.


Another Olmert Regime LIE Exposed

02.08.2006 20:01

Israel has since admitted - when pressed by the Red Cross who refuted their LIES - that, no, this was yet another LIE told to excuse' their slaughter of innocent men, women, and CHILDREN, for the purpose of scaring (terrorizing) the rest of the villagers into leaving, minimizing Resistance to the planned Israeli annexation of this land.

Zionism, Irrelevant Within A Generation

"there were no rocket launches from Qana on the day of the strike"

03.08.2006 10:40

Last update - 21:04 01/08/2006

Livni: Qana attack led to turning point in support for Israel

By Yoav Stern, Yuval Yoaz and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents

The deaths of dozens of civilians in an Israel Air Force attack on the southern Lebanese village of Qana marked a significant diplomatic turning point against Israel, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Tuesday.

The foreign minister said that following the events in Qana, Israel's scope for political maneuvering had been reduced, as was the amount of European support Israel is receiving for its operation in Lebanese soil.

Livni said this change was exemplified in the "problematic" Russian and French stance towards Israel.

She said that despite the pictures of civilian casualties coming from Qana of it was important not to stray from implementing UN decision 1559.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to establish a state commission of inquiry into the killings at Qana.

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.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese Red Cross workers reported on Monday that 28 bodies, 19 of them children, were removed from the rubble.

The count is lower than the some 60 bodies reported by news agencies, quoting Lebanese security officials. Survivors say 60 people were in the building at the time of the strike.

Additional bodies are expected to be found in rescue operations.

Elsewhere in southern Lebanon, 49 bodies were removed Monday from the ruins of buildings in ten villages. Medical sources in Lebanon say dozens more are buried in the rubble.

IDF sources said the warning pamphlets the IAF disseminated to residents, calling on them to leave the area, were dropped several days before the strike, and not over the weekend.

The IAF does not have a way to verify whether villages have been vacated, or whether civilians remain hidden in bomb-shelters in locations otherwise believed to have been vacated, the sources said.

Paratroopers who fought in Bint Jbail last week said they noticed civilians hiding in the rubble while the fierce battle with Hezbollah militants was taking place.

The IDF account and those of survivors present contradictory versions of the Qana deaths. The IDF said that there is an unexplained gap of about seven hours between the IAF strike and the first report that the building had collapsed. Residents' accounts say only 10 minutes went by between the strike and the collapse.

The survivors say rescue teams arrived only in the morning, as night conditions made the rescue mission difficult. The Red Cross in Tyre received a call for help only in the morning, explaining their late arrival.

Sami Yazbek, chief of the Tyre department of the Red Cross, said his office received a call only at 7 A.M. The ambulances were further slowed by the bombed roads leading to Qana.

The media first heard of the bombing at 8 A.M. The foreign press quoted Lebanese sources explaining the late announcement, saying the electricity and phones in the village of Qana were almost entirely cut-off by IAF attacks.

An IAF investigation into the bombing is underway.

The IAF admits the village was struck three times between Saturday night and Sunday morning. Two bombs were dropped on the building in the first strike. Channel 10, however, said on Monday that the initial investigation shows the bombs did not immediately explode, and an explosion in the early morning caused the casualties.

The IDF provided no explanation for the second explosion, and it is not clear whether the bomb was moved, or whether Hezbollah ammunition stored in the building caused the explosion.

Civilians continued to leave their homes en masse in southern Lebanon on Monday, taking advantage of the temporary slow-down in the fighting, imposed by the IAF after the Qana attack.

The United Nations and the Red Cross delivered emergency assistance to villages in the south on Monday. The UN also delivered food and medical equipment to Qana residents.
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