THE Israeli Army has admitted to The Times that its official account of the explosion that killed eight Palestinians picnicking on a Gaza beach last week was flawed. The account is also contradicted by a UN radio transmission.
The army has told The Times that its report was flawed because it failed to mention two gunboat shells fired at about the time of the deaths. It insists, however, that they landed too far away to have been responsible…
The Times has established that at 4.43 pm the UN received a radio call from one of its officials in northern Gaza that said: “At 16.33hrs IDF artillery shelling has started again targeting the northern area, two artillery shells so far. One of the shells fell down at the coast west of the evacuated old Dugit settlement, some casualties among the people spending their day at the . . . ” Transmissions could be picked up by anyone with a scanner, which are widely available in Gaza.
In other words, the Israeli contention that the shelling had to have happened between 4:57 and 5:10 (and after it ceased fire) is wrong since this UN transmission confirms the beach massacre at 4:43. And Israel has already admitted it WAS shelling at 4:43PM. I’d say that Israel’s vaunted surveillance and intelligence apparatus has fallen down grievously on the job.
Now I understand why pro-Israel hardliners hate the UN so. No doubt a few will populate the comments section of this post with claims that everyone knows the UN lies and that this evidence is fraudulent, etc.
The Times also quotes Palestinian records which contradict the timing of the Israeli shelling:
Palestinian hospital and ambulance records — some computerised, some handwritten …also contradict aspects of the Israeli chronology, as do survivor accounts. Those indicate that the fatal explosion may have happened before 4.54, when Israel’s aerial cameras were trained on the quiet beach.
The logs of Kamal Adwan hospital, in northern Gaza, also show that seven patients were admitted at 5.05pm, ten minutes before Israel says it filmed ambulances arriving.
The Guardian also quotes multiple Palestinian eyewitness accounts which discredit the Israeli timeframe:
The first ambulance man to leave another Beid Lahia hospital, the Alwada, and a doctor summoned to work there say they clearly recall the time.
The ambulance driver, Khaled Abu Sada, said he received a call from the emergency control room between 4.45pm and 4.50pm. “I went to look for a nurse to come with me,” he said. “I left the hospital at 4.50pm and was at the beach by 5pm.”
The Guardian also quotes new information from Marc Garlasco, the Human Rights Watch bomb damage assessment expert (who earlier worked at the Pentagon), who did an on site investigation several hours after the shelling ended:
From the number of shells counted beforehand by the survivors, Mr Garlasco believes the killer shell was one the army records as fired at 4.34pm.
…A military spokesman, Captain Jacob Dalal, said…shrapnel taken from Palestinians treated in Israeli hospitals was not from 155mm shells fired that day. “We know it’s not artillery,” he said. “It could be a shell of another sort or some other device.”
Garlasco said the metal taken from the victims may be detritus thrown up by the explosion or shards from cars. He said shrapnel collected at the site of the explosion by Human Rights Watch and the Palestinian police was fresh and from artillery shells.
The former Pentagon analyst said that after examining a blood-encrusted piece of shrapnel given to him by the father of a 19-year-old man wounded in the beach explosion, he determined it was a piece of fuse from an artillery shell.
“The likelihood that the Ghalia family was killed by an explosive other than one of the shells fired by the Israeli army is remote,” he said.
Capt Dalal defended the army’s investigation. “We’re not trying to cover up anything. We didn’t do the investigation to exonerate ourselves. If it was our fire, we’ll say it,” he said.
And indeed he may yet have to do so.
I find it interesting that the IDF only admitted its error after being presented with incontrovertible physical evidence. What other facts might they be concealing?? Can anyone doubt that further qualifications and backtracking may be forthcoming? Please tell me how a gold-plated IDF investigation led by a general misses the fact that Israeli gunboats shelled the beach area at the same time as the deadly shells landed? Perhaps (and this is speculation), the Israeli navy thought it could get away with obscuring the facts; or perhaps the IDF investigation was a house of cards to begin with. I don’t know which explanation might be true. But I’ve always said here that the Israeli explanation stank to high heaven. And I still believe that. I am not saying, as others have, that the IDF deliberately shelled civilians. At least I hope that isn’t what happened. But the Israeli explanation is not credible considering the counter evidence presented by Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch and this UN transmission.
To be fair, we should quote the IDF’s reply to the Times information:
Major-General Meir Kalifi, who led the Israeli investigation, insisted that the 4.33pm report was an earlier incident, near the abandoned settlement of Dugit. “[We] know of a request from the Red Cross to the Red Crescent at 4.30pm regarding one wounded individual along the beach. [We] believe that that is the case you are referring to,” General Kalifi said. “This is most likely in the Dugit area. Indeed they were shelling in the Dugit area, but the Dugit area was not near the incident. It was 700 metres away.”
This might be a credible explanation. It might not. But with the admission of the above error, one wonders whether there may be further contradictions to come. Further, the general’s reply does not explain the contradicting evidence of Palestinian hospital and health worker records and accounts.
Congratulations to the Times and the Guardian. Keep up the good work. But where is the U.S. media on this story??