The Qana Case

It's unquestionable that something bad happened in Qana, Lebanon recently. Was it a massacre of innocent civilians, collateral damage, or a Hezbollah set-up?

It's starting to seem as though it was a combination of all three. The Washington Post's Jefferson Morley, Aziz P, and Ace are some of the bloggers beginning to raise this point. I've excerpted some of their arguments below. If you see any counter-arguments, post them as a comment or email them to me so I can include all sides.

UPDATE 14:25. Dan Riehl theorizes on how Hezbollah might have staged the casualties. Read on past the jump for an excerpt.

UPDATE 14:48. Power Line argues further that Arab stringers for MSM organizations are staging photos.

UPDATE 15:17. Ace has more possibly staged pix, including a mannequin improbably standing upright sporting a wedding dress.

Morley:

The Qana "conspiracy theory" poses this question: If Israeli shells
landed near the building that collapsed between midnight and 1 a.m.,
why didn't reports of the collapse emerge until about 8 a.m.? One site
pushing this question on Tuesday was the Israeli Insider, published by
a Tel Aviv company that bills the site as a "an independent,
nonpartisan online publication that aims to provide an 'inside
perspective' on the latest news, analysis and commentary from and about
Israel."

Israeli Insider's Ruben Korvet contends that the Qana story has the hallmark of a Hollywood ending and called for the "revelation of the improbable and inconvenient truth."
Citing news images of the event, Korvet said the bodies of 57 civilians
"looked like they had been dead for days" and suggested that Hezbollah
operatives planted them there. [...]

Confronted with photographs of dead children, Israeli Insider's
Korvet insisted they must be something else: "The victims were
non-residents who chose to shelter in the building that night," he
writes. "They were 'too poor' to leave the down, one resident told
CNN's [Jon] Wedeman. Who were these people?"

That question has been definitively answered in the mainstream
press. Almost all of the victims belonged to two extended families, the
Hashems and the Shalhoubs, who lived in the area, according to the
independent accounts of The Washington Post's Anthony Shadid and the Daily Star's Nicholas Blanford.

Nevertheless, the Qana conspiracy theory is apparently being taken
seriously in the blogosphere and in Israel. The American Thinker, a
popular conservative site, says unnamed major media photographers were
"willing" tools of Hezbollah. The EU Referendum
blog claims its stories on the subject attracted 115,000 page views in
a day, more than 50 times the average. YNet News, Web site of the
country's largest newspaper, reported the story under the headline: "Blogs: Hizbullah 'Milked' the attacks."

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.

Ace:

The Lebanese have a quite plausible reason for the initial claim of,
I think 56 dead, despite only 28 or so bodies being recovered from the
rubble. They say (no link, not sure where I read it) 56 people were
checked in to, or otherwise believed to be inside, the makeshift
basement bomb shelter; that's why they first guessed 56 casualties. It
appears that not all of those first believed to be in the shelter were
there. Some may have wisely fled the area; the adult or near-adult men
may have been "checked in" to the bomb shelter while they were actually
out firing rockets for Hezbollah.

Similar stuff happened with the WTC massacre. It takes time to
verify that all persons believed to be in a destroyed buidling were, in
fact, there.

So, I went out on a limb suggesting the theory that the bomb site
had been "sweetened" with additional corpses. Or, rather, linking other
bloggers making that suggestion, with my endorsement.

The Green Hat Guy's constant media availability, and the likely
repeated parading of corpses for photographers, does suggest this was a
Hezbollah propaganda effort, but a propaganda effort based, more or
less, on the actual truth, simply milked and milked again for maximum
impact.

There's a criticism of the media to be had there -- the media's
eagerness to be used by America's enemies for propaganda -- but that's
not nearly the same as speculating about trucked-in bodies and
"controlled demolitions," as the JPost noted.

I should have known from my own ridiculing of the Truthers that just
because you suspect someone is a liar doesn't make everything they say,
no matter how well documented, a lie. And just because you generally
support someone, like the Israelis, you shouldn't go too far afield in
postulating, or lending credence to, farfetched theories that
completely absolve them of even making an understandable mistake in the
fog of war.

Even if it's true that the building did not collapse for seven or so
hours after the strike, that's not a reason to believe the people
inside were held there against their will by Hezbollah, waiting for it
to collapse upon them. Not only is that pretty outlandish, but there's
a pretty plausible explanation: the initial strike hit low on the
building, collapsing the basement, killing or trapping most people
inside. The building took a while to collapse, but those inside
couldn't evacuate, because they were either already dead, or dying,
trapped under rubble.

Why weren't the Lebanese rescue workers more prompt about trying to
dig them out? Well, either because they were cowards and don't want to
say so, or because the building was simply too dangerous to enter.
American firefighters and cops were incredibly courageous during 9/11,
but there comes a point when superiors will call off any attempted
rescue missions, deeming it most likely simply to result in additional
deaths of rescue workers with very little chance of saving anyone else.

Occam's Razor can keep you out of a lot of trouble, and I seemed to have misplaced mine during several postings on Qana.

I still think this was an exercise in propaganda, of course, but
only in the "weak form," i.e., sweetening the story a bit, parading the
bodies repetitively, etc., for maximum media effect.

Aziz P:

A Reuters photographer, Adnan Hajj, was found guilty of doctoring
photos of Beirut. That's truly disgusting. Propaganda of the basest
sort.

However,
others now assume that because this photographer faked his photos, that
the Qana massacre is somehow also suspect. This too is repugnant.
Jefferson Morley has an important blog entry at the Washington Post
that addresses the evolving blogosphere attemps to deny Qana.

It
is important to note that most of the innocents killed at Qana were of
two large families, the Hashim family and the Shalhoub family. The bulk
of the arguments by the Qana-deniers have been definitively refuted by
the doggged and diligent reporting in the mainstream press, especially Anthony Shadid of the WaPo and Nicholas Blanford of the Daily Star. [...]

Those who deny Qana, and attempt to relegate it to a hoax, are as
guilty of propaganda as Adnan Hajj. It is the right-wing equivalent of the 9-11 conspiracy theories, and deserves as much scorn for its moral emptiness.

UPDATE 14:36. As mentioned above, Dan Riehl has been following the story with a skeptical eye about the claims of a large-scale massacre. I'm giving an excerpt but you should read his full post and watch the video he mentions. I'm reserving judgment still but want to give everyone the chance to see all sides.

If you read this post, view the images and watch the short slow
motion video, I believe you will come to clearly understand how
Hizbollah manipulated the scene at Qana. Also, quite possibly, you'll
see how they succeeded in adding to the body count of dead children
there.

How do you introduce new bodies into the scene of a bomb strike? The answer may be as simple as you bring them from around the corner. Where they ultimately came from, who can say?

I call the first image top right clean crew. And it looks like a
motley, yet meticulously clean crew at that. Doesn't it? The block
around the one man's face is a reflection on the movie camera lens.

The first question to ask yourself is how this spotless, unwrinkled
crew managed to find multiple bodies of children, all dirty and dusty
from being buried under tons of concrete, Clean_pantssomewhere
around the corner. Then they would have had to extract them from that
rubble, and all without getting a single spec of dust on any of them
before carrying them up a hill to where the actual building strike
widely reported in the MSM took place. You'll also see them making
certain the press was precisely positioned, just as they wanted them to
be when they arrived.

Note, their uniforms are, not only spotless, they don't have a
single wrinkle and, for all intents and purposes, came right out of a
bag, or off a shelf. To emphasize that point, I've included a small
image of one of them from the waste down. (at Left) The images have not
been brightened, or altered.

There is no dirt on the knees and any wrinkles look, as I said, as
though they came as they would fresh out of a package similar to the
kind in which such outfits are stored or sold. The obviously long dead
children they carry are covered with cement dust and dirt just as the
press was clear to point out to us all. Not a spec of which got on
these men as they allegedly recovered them. And that's only the
beginning, please hang with me here.

Call_out The second image from the top on the right is labeled call out.
That's important to note, because with the glare and others moving
about, it can be difficult to see what are signals being sent between
our motley crew and our friend in the Green Helmet at the top of the
hill. The purpose was to have the media right where they belonged.

The slow motion video is at one fifth speed - and there are other
items you will see exposed. The video at bottom will make this all
clear.

In essence, when the leader of the group came around the corner,
first he called out to Mr. Green Helmet to let him know that they were
there. That was acknowledged, as Mr. Green Helmet began to corral the
press.

Unfortunately, some of the press weren't behaving as planned. Then
you will see our leader in the orange vest briefly directing traffic on
top of the hill he is approaching by waving his left arm.

He wants to make absolutely certain that there is nothing between
him and the cameras as the spotless, yet allegedly hard working, hard
digging rescue crew carries a child's lifeless body up the hill. And
they do it more than once.

This will all be even more clear in a full length, full speed
version I will link at lgf. But some of this stuff is hard to pick out
if you aren't looking for it. But it's absolutely there.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013