It was to be a perfect Hollywood ending for Hezbollah. Just as the Israeli bombing of the village of Qana in 1996 brought a premature end to Israel’s Operation “Grapes of Wrath,” so too a sequel of Qana II could change, once and for all, the direction of Israel’s current summer blockbuster, “Change of Direction.” Ten years ago, world condemnation of an errant Israeli shell that hit a civilian compound forced then-PM Shimon Peres to curtail the offensive against terror bases.
The setting was also perfect: Kana was again being used as a primary site for launching rockets against Israeli cities. The IDF reported that more than 150 rockets had been launched from Qana and its vicinity at Israeli civilians, wreaking destruction in Kiryat Shmona, Maalot, Nahariya and Haifa. It was only a matter of time before the Israeli Air Force would come for a visit, using pinpoint targeting of the sites used to launch rockets, Hezbollah logistical centers and weapon storage facilities.
On the morning of July 30, according to the IDF, the air force came in three waves. In the first, between midnight and one in the morning, there was a strike at or near the building that eventually collapsed.
Brent Sadler of CNN reports that the Israeli ordnance did not even hit the building but landed “20 or 30 meters” from the structure.
There was a second strike at other targets far from the collapse building several hours later, and a third strike at around 7:30 in the morning. There too the nearest hit was some 460 meters away, according to the IDF. But first reports of a building collapse came only around 8 am.
Thus there was an unexplained 7 to 8 hour gap between the time of the helicopter strike and the building collapse. Brigadier General Amir Eshel, Head of the Air Force Headquarters, in a press briefing, told journalists that “the attack on the structure in the Qana village took place between midnight and one in the morning. The gap between the timing of the collapse of the building and the time of the strike on it is unclear.”
Gen. Eshel appeared genuinely mystified by the gap in time. He “I’m saying this very carefully, because at this time I don’t have a clue as to what the explanation could be for this gap,” he added.
The army’s only explanation was that somehow there was unexploded Hezbollah ordnance in the building that only detonated much later.
“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, Brigadier General Eshel said.
Eshel reported that as recently as two days ago, military intelligence reported the building area had been used by the terrorists for storage or firing of weapons. It was a bad place to cram dozens of women and children.
There are other mysteries. The roof of the building was intact. Journalist Ben Wedeman of CNN noted that there was a larger crater next to the building, but observed that the building appeared not to have collapsed as a result of the Israeli strike.
Why would the civilians who had supposedly taken shelter in the basement of the building not leave after the post-midnight attack? They just went back to sleep and had the bad luck to wait for the building to collapse in the morning?
National Public Radio’s correspondent reported that residents of that building had left and the victims were non-residents who chose to shelter in the building that night. They were “too poor” to leave the down, one resident told CNN’s Wedeman. Who were these people?
What we do know is that sometime after dawn a call went hour to journalists and rescue workers to come to the scene. And come they did, in droves.
While Hezbollah and its apologists have been claiming that civilians could not freely flee the scene due to Israeli destruction of bridges and roads, the journalists and rescue teams from nearby Tyre had no problem getting there.
Lebanese rescue teams did not start evacuating the building until the morning and only after the camera crews came. The absence of a real rescue effort was explained by saying that equipment was lacking. There were no scenes of live or injured people being extracted.
There was little blood, CNN’s Wedeman noted: all the victims, he concluded, appeared to have died while as they were sleeping — sleeping, apparently, through thunderous Israeli air attacks. Rescue workers equipped with cameras were removing the bodies from the same opening in the collapsed structure. Journalists were not allowed near the collapsed building.
Rescue workers filmed as they went carried the victims on the stretchers, occasionally flipping up the blankets so that cameras could show the faces and bodies of the dead.
But Israelis steeled to scenes of carnage from Palestinian suicide bombings and Hezbollah rocket attack could not help but notice that these victims did not look like our victims. Their faces were ashen gray. While medical examination clearly is called for to arrive at a definitive dating and cause of their deaths, they do not appear to have died hours before. The bodies looked like they had been dead for days.
Viewers can judge for themselves. But the accumulating evidence suggests another explanation for what happened at Kana. The scenario would be a setup in which the time between the initial Israeli bombing near the building and morning reports of its collapse would have been used to “plant” bodies killed in previous fighting — reports in previous days indicated that nearby Tyre was used as a temporary morgue — place them in the basement, and then engineer a “controlled demolition” to fake another Israeli attack.
The well-documented use by Palestinians of this kind of faked footage — from the alleged shooting of Mohammed Dura in Gaza, scenes from Jenin of “dead” victims falling off gurneys and then climbing back on — have merited the creation of a new film genre called “Palliwood.”
There is increasing evidence that the Kana sequel is another episode in this genre, a variety which might be called Hezbollywood. The Hezbollah have evidently learned their craft well.
The current suspension of Israeli military air activity is supposedly intended, among other things, to be used for the investigation of what really happened at Qana. It is to be hoped that there are real journalists on the scene, and unbiased medical examiners, who will have the courage and intelligence to sort out the anomalies and contradictions, and get to the buried truth of what happened.
I hope so too.
Here is photographic evidence of staging.