My post title is perhaps a slight stretch, but only by a little if you continue reading below.
The comedy of errors continues with the IDF positing various theories about how eight Palestinian beachgoers were blown to smithereens last Friday. At first, the Israeli press and military sources said the most likely explanation was an errant Israeli shell which hit the beach instead of its target 400 meters away. But almost immediately, the press reported that perhaps a Palestinian bombmaker had had a “work accident.” The following day the new theory was that an errant Qassam rocket had hit the beach. Now, the newest brilliant bit of misinformation conveyed via Haaretz is:
Detonation of a Palestinian bomb: Less than two weeks ago Israeli naval commandos operated in the northern Gaza Strip and ambushed a team of Qassam rocket operators. The Palestinians reported that groups of divers had arrived by sea, and militant forces announced that they would find ways to prevent any similar operations in the future. The possibility does exist that areas near the beach were mined and that the family members accidentally set off an explosive device that was intended to destroy a team of Israeli special-forces troops.
Possible evidence of this hypothesis are Palestinian eye-witnesses who said that Hamas militants rushed to the site of the blast on Friday evening to collect remnants of the explosives.
And the idea that because Hamas militants rushed to the scene of a horrible accident–that it means that Hamas mined the beach is beyond belief. They wouldn’t possibly have been running there because they’d just heard an awful explosion and wished to aid the survivors, now could they?
The army proposes another cockamamie theory that absolves itself of blame:
Unexploded IDF ordnance: In the past months the IDF has fired hundreds of shells in the area of Friday’s incident. In some instances, Palestinian civilians were killed when they touched the unexploded shells including youths who sought to dismantle the ordnance in order to sell the metal. Israel has no means of pinpointing the location of the unexploded ordnance from previous operations.
To paraphrase this theory: “the shell WAS ours but they killed themselves touching it.” Another convenient explanation that blames the victims for their own deaths. There was a time when the Jewish people were very sensitive to the concept of blaming the vicitms since it was one used against the victims of the Holocaust. It seems a quaint notion now after seeing the use the IDF makes of it in this case.
The general IDF strategy in dealing with this incident seems to be–if we produce enough different theories blaming the Palestinians themselves for their own deaths then perhaps we’ll get the world off our backs. It’s quite repulsive. But then again, Israeli political leaders and the IDF have rarely been known for their sophistication or ability to project a humane image to the world regarding their treatment of the Palestinians.
The IDF, again according to Haaretz’s unnamed military sources, is beginning to discount the theory that the IDF is to blame:
An off-target IDF shell: This appeared to be the most likely scenario during the initial stages of the investigation, however, as it advances there is growing skepticism about it. The head of the Southern Command, Major General Yoav Galant, said Sunday: “There is more than a single piece of evidence that counters the possibility that this [incident] involved artillery shelling. Our shelling ended at 4:51 P.M. [on Friday]. Our observation sources scanned the beach by 4:58 P.M. and they did not witness any unusual activity. This raises serious questions.”
In addition to the inconsistency between the time of the shelling and the time of the explosion, Palestinian witnesses believe the latter was between 5 P.M. and 5:15 P.M., there is a discrepancy between the programming of the shells’ target and the actual site of the incident…Out of six shells fired, five had targeted an area approximately 250 meters north of the site of the actual blast.
This “defense” of the IDF is also not credible. They claim they stopped firing 25 minutes before the accidental explosion on the beach. They claim that the target for their shells was 250 meters (until today the IDF was claiming the target was 400 meters from the beach) distant from the beach. Can the IDF claim that its firing is so accurate that it simply is not possible that a shell fell 250 meters off course? Also, can they be absolutely certain that the information they have confirming the timing of their shelling is unimpeachable? Can they be certain that another shell was not fired after the firing sequence they have confirmed?
And finally what troubles me most of all is that the only source we have to go on is the IDF itself. And the IDF’s word has been proven untrustworthy in situations such as this time and again. The army thinks nothing of shading the truth or of lying if it suits their interests. Why should anyone believe the statements and claims they make about this incident? My fear is that an Israeli population which is terrifically laissez faire regarding security issues will give the army yet another bye on this incident; and that yet again there be no accountability for the criminal murder of innocent Palestinians by Israeli forces.