December 22, 2006

HRW: Israel's ambulance bombing was no hoax

You remember when Israel bombed two ambulances in Lebanon back in July this year? You remember how a site called zombietime said it was a hoax by Hizbullah? You remember the Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, denouncing the original report? And you remember Engage running with the "it was a hoax" line, even stooping so low as to link, apparently approvingly, to Melanie Phillips's site? Ah good. Well Human Rights Watch has done a thorough investigation and the report is on The Alternative Information Centre site.
During the Israel-Hezbollah war, Israel was accused by Human Rights Watch and numerous local and international media outlets of attacking two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances in Qana on July 23, 2006. Following these accusations, some websites claimed that the attack on the ambulances “never happened” and was a Hezbollah-orchestrated “hoax,” a charge picked up by conservative commentators such as Oliver North. These claims attracted renewed
attention when the Australian foreign minister stated that “it is beyond serious dispute that this episode has all the makings of a hoax.”

In response, Human Rights Watch researchers carried out a more in-depth investigation of the Qana ambulance attacks. Our investigation involved detailed interviews with four of the six ambulance staff and the three wounded people in the ambulance, on-site visits to the Tibnine and Tyre Red Cross offices from which the ambulances originated to review their records and meet with supervisors, an examination of the ambulances that were struck, an on-site visit to the Qana site where the attack took place, and interviews with others such as international officials with the International Committee of the Red Cross who were involved in responding to the attack on the night it happened.

On the basis of this investigation, we conclude that the attack on the ambulances was not a hoax: Israeli forces attacked two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances that night in Qana, almost certainly with missiles fired from an Israeli drone flying overhead. The physical and testimonial evidence collected by Human Rights Watch disproves the allegations of a “hoax,” made by persons who never visited Lebanon and had no opportunity to assess the evidence first-hand. Those claiming a hoax relied on faulty conjectures based on a limited number of photographs of one of the ambulances.
Now in fairness to Engage they did an update when The Australian stood by its story. So I wonder if they will update now that the hoax story has itself been shown to be a hoax. I'm guessing Melanie Phillips won't.

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