September 4, 2006

Debunking the Rebunking of the Debunking

Hatched by Dafydd

UPDATE Sep. 6th, 2006: Just found out (by reading Power Line) that Zombie is a female... so I changed all the "Mr. Zombies" to "Ms. Zombies."

All right, let's see if we can follow the machinations of the Lebanese ambulance attack hoax of 2006...

Bunkum --

On July 23rd, during the late war between Israel and Hezbollah, the latter claimed that the perfidious Jews deliberately shot missiles at two ambulances toting the wounded in Qana, Lebanon -- presumably out of sheer ornery cussedness. You know what Jews are like: when they're not poisoning wells and eating Christian babies at Passover, they can generally be found shooting at hospitals, orphanges, and ambulances.

To prove Hezbollah's claim, they sent a shaky, amateur video of two ambulances to the U.K.'s ITV the next day, the 24th. One had a neat, round hole in the top -- exactly where the crosshairs of the red cross met. This was touted as proof that the attacks were "deliberate;" after all, you couldn't expect such a precise shot by sheer accident, could you?

Of course, this begs the point that you couldn't expect such a precise shot at night from a moving platform, even if the Israelis were deliberately aiming at the red cross, either. But what the hey.

The second ambulance shows some damage in the rear: some of the metal appears to be peeled back a bit.

Here's an International Red Cross press release:

The latest of these incidents occurred on 23 July, at 11.15 pm in Cana, a village in southern Lebanon. According to Lebanese Red Cross reports, two of its ambulances were struck by munitions, although both vehicles were clearly marked by the red cross emblem and flashing lights that were visible at a great distance. The incident happened while first-aid workers were transferring wounded patients from one ambulance to another. As a result, nine people including six Red Cross volunteers were wounded.

Showing their usual flair for independent reporting and expert analysis, AP swiftly followed with a story that was essentially a dramatic rewrite of the press release:

The rocket attack on the two vehicles wounded six ambulance workers and three civilians - an 11-year-old boy, an elderly woman and a man, Deebe said.

"One of the rockets hit right in the middle of the big red cross that was painted on top of the ambulance," he said. "This is a clear violation of humanitarian law, of international law. We are neutral and we should not be targeted."

Kassem Shalan, one of the ambulance workers, told AP Television News that nine people were injured. "We were transferring the wounded into our vehicle and something fell and I dropped to the floor," he said.

Amateur video provided by an ambulance worker confirmed Deebe's account of damage to the vehicles, showing one large hole and several smaller ones in the roof of one ambulance and a large hole in the roof of the second. Both were destroyed.

The only original line of reporting here was the last one, saying that both vehicles "were destroyed." Which was a flat lie, of course, since both vehicles still exist today -- completely intact, exterior and interior. Either an AP reporter saw the extant ambulances and decided to enhance the story by pretending they were obliterated (in which case he's a liar)... or else some AP editor let someone make a fool of him.

An Australian newspaper, the Age of Melbourne (I believe), was the first to report that the ambulance attack was on purpose:

Then the roar and smash of the missiles shattered the night. Both ambulances were hit, directly and systematically, by Israeli bombs, the medics said.

Remember this newspaper; this will be on the test.

DeBunkum --

Enter a blog called Zombietime. Ms. Zombie was the first that I saw who raised serious objections to the "evidence" in a systematic and convincing way. He noted several points:

  1. The hole in the roof of ambulance 782 was clearly not made by a missile... not unless we live in a Tex Avery cartoon, where missiles make perfectly circular holes, surrounded by screwholes -- and in the exact spot that such ambulances ordinarily have circular vent covers.

    Ambulance 782 Roof Hole

    Circular hole in ambulance 782
    is most likely from a vent cover


    In fact, the hole looks unmistakably like a pre-existing circular hole in the roof, to which some feature -- such as a light or a vent cover -- was attached, and then removed....

    Lo and behold, when we look at other pictures of undamaged Lebanese Red Cross ambulances, we see that many of them just happen to have a ventilation cover of the exact same diameter as the "missile" hole right in the center of the cross on the roof. [Emphasis in original]

  2. The holes in the roof of ambulance 782 are heavily rusted... which means they could not possibly have been made on July 23rd, since pictures of the roof (with the rusted holes) appeared as early as August 1st.

    Feeble attempts were made to claim that it was "flash rust" that completely rusted metal in a desert in a few days, but metallurgy experts scoffed at the claim.

  3. The damage on display in the photographs of both ambulances is completely inconsistent with a missile attack.
  4. There is no sign of a fire inside either ambulance.
  5. The supposedly "wounded" ambulance driver, shown in hospital with huge bandages on his chin and right ear, turned up in photographs a few days later with no injuries at all.

In other words, Zombietime (relying upon posts by Reihl World View and Infinitives Unsplit) completely demolished the claim that Israeli missiles struck either ambulance on July 23rd in Qana.

ReBunkum --

Now the Age has come out of its corner swinging (remember I warned you they would pop up in this story again?) They've raised the bet and gone all-in, still gamely insisting that those wicked Jews attack ambulances for the sheer joy of it, once a day and twice on Saturday Sabbath. (Hat tip Riehl World View, via Power Line.) In a story attributed to one "Sarah Smiles," they write:

The attack on two ambulances ferrying mildly injured people from the village of Tibnin to Tyre was widely reported by international media, including The Age.

But [Australian] Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has condemned press coverage of the incident, suggesting it was a hoax. He appears to have drawn his conclusions from right-wing US website that debunks all reporting on the incident using available press photos and television footage as "evidence".

Oh. "Right wing" is evidently Gregg shorthand for "no need to offer counter-evidence to Zombietime's points when an all-purpose sneer will serve nicely." (And note the scare-quotes surrounding the word evidence.) Here is how Ms. Smiles responds to some of Ms. Zombie's strongest evidence:

While some reporters wrote that an Israeli missile ripped a hole in the roof of one ambulance that was directly hit, the site argues a missile would have caused much wider damage. It argues the hole appears to be where there was an existing circular vent, with rust on some of the exposed metal showing that damage to vehicle happened before the reported time of the attack.

However, Red Cross volunteers manning the ambulances and Mr Fawaz insist the hit was caused by small weapons fired from unmanned drones that they heard circling above after the attack.

Well, if you insist! Who can argue with that?

The Age visited the yard where the bombed out ambulances are now parked.

One presumes those would be the two ambulances that "were destroyed," according to AP. Actually, one must presume... because despite sending a reporter to view these ambulances, the Age did not post a single photograph -- pictures that would allow us to see whether they're even the same two vehicles as the shaky, amateurish video footage shot immediately after the supposed incident and broadcast on ITV... let alone whether, even if they are the same ambulances, they're in the same condition now that they were on July 23rd.

In other words, Smiles has failed at the most basic task of any investigator: establishing a "chain of custody" of the evidence. How difficult would it have been to fire an RPG or anti-tank weapon at the stern of the Potempkin ambulance, to be subsequently observed and duly noted by the strangely incurious reporter for the Age?

When Ahmed Fawaz's leg was supposedly blown off by the Israeli missile, why no blood? Ah, the Age can explain that: evidently, the same missile that severed Fawaz's leg also cauterized it! (And how exactly did it do that? By the extreme heat of the explosion? Then why is nothing burnt inside either ambulance?)

Mr. Downer -- remember him? -- says the Israeli-airstrike-on-a-pair-of-ambulances story is a hoax. But it's not a hoax, says the Age, because Fawaz has only one leg.

Yeesh. It's beyond Sarah Smiles' limited visualization abilities to imagine that perhaps, just perhaps, Ahmed Fawaz might have lost his leg by some other means... since we have only his word, and that of the Lebanese drivers, that he was ever in that ambulance in the first place.

Everything in the Age story is "eyewitness" testimony by witnesses Ms. Smiles never bothers to qualify: she makes no attempt, other than asking the witnesses themselves, to verify whether any of them was even present; and if present, in a position to see; and if in a position to see, whether any had an interest in promoting the story that Israel was shooting at ambulances. She never even checked -- or doesn't tell us if she did -- whether any of the "witnesses" is a member of Hezbollah.

The ineptness of the Age's response -- amounting, more or less, to "it did so happen!" -- beggars the imagination. But this particular bit of testimony is priceless:

When [Fawaz] came to after the blast, he remembers reaching for his glasses that were knocked to the back of his head, adjusting them and then feeling a sense of malaise.

So this Hellfire or Viper Strike missile, with 20 lbs of high-explosives, blows Fawaz's leg off... but it doesn't even break his eyeglasses, merely knocking them askew! Yep; that's Tex Avery, all right. All we need is for Fawaz's eyes to telescope out when he sees his leg missing, and his jaw to literally drop all the way down to the floor and bounce.

In Riehl World View's post discussing the newest counteroffensive by the antique media, Dan Riehl incongruously seems taken in, to some extent, by the zeal of the Age:

Images of both ambulances do exist and I've edited a section of video, playing it back below at half speed to show the two ambulances together. In all honesty, I had set out to debunk claims by The Age that the photos we've been looking at were the wrong ones; however, careful analysis appears to depict what looks like a hit from something on a second ambulance and the location of it does line up with other basic elements of the story.

However, Riehl should realize that "a hit from something" is not the same as a missile strike by an Israeli warplane -- or even a drone, which carries a smaller missile: our Predator UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) come equipped with two Hellfire missiles; the same missile is also used on our Cobra, Apache, Commanche, Blackhawk, and Kiowa attack helos.

And the damage depicted in the video that Riehl finds so persuasive is simply nothing like what you would expect from a missile impact... even from a missile with a dummy warhead (as some apologists have suggested). Inside both ambulances, I see undamaged seats and gurneys, intact plastic or thin-metal cans, and door seals hanging loosely instead of being shredded. I see windows more or less intact... and both ambulances shown in the video still have operable rear doors -- both doors are open, held up by their own door piston supports.

Even a small Hellfire missile flies at 950 miles per hour (425 meters per second); with a mass of 46kg, that gives it a kinetic energy of 4.2 million joules; by contrast, even a .50 calliber BMG round fired from an M82 sniper rifle produces only between 13558 and 17625 joules -- less than 1/235th of the energy of the Hellfire. And the Hellfire has a larger cross-section, flying at a similar velocity... so it probably imparts more of its energy to the target than the .50 BMG would. And this is still not considering the warhead.

You would see a gigantic hole in the back, through everything in between, and an even bigger exit hole out the front, probably knocking the entire engine block out through the grillwork. Either that, or else the missile would have remained in the ambulance, absolutely wrecking it but leaving its own deformed body for the drivers to display (assuming they survived by some miracle).

And of course, if you add a 9kg warhead -- all "witnesses" describe explosions -- there would simply be nothing left but a twisted frame and some fire-scorched shards of metal.

Certainly, nobody inside either ambulance would have walked away unscathed from an impact that would be the equivalent of driving the ambulance into a brick wall at over a hundred miles per hour; with a warhead, nobody would even survive.

I'm sorry to contradict Dan Riehl, who seems to have been one of the first people to analyze this claim, but neither of the two ambulances depicted in the original video, which he has posted on his site slowed down for easier viewing, could possibly have been hit even by a smaller Hellfire missile -- let alone a big, huge AGM-65 Maverick, the standard missile found on an F-16 Fighting Falcon or F-15 Strike Eagle (the mainstays of the Israeli Air Force). A Maverick masses more than five times a Hellfire and flies at 2.7 times the velocity, giving it 36 times as much kinetic energy... plus a warhead containing from 6 to 15 times as much explosive power as a Hellfire.

If an ambulance were hit by a Maverick, I doubt anything would be left but a charred impact crater.

Re-DeBunkum --

Three conclusions are immediately clear, despite the Australian newspaper the Age's attempt to resuscitate the story:

  • No matter how you slice it, neither ambulance depicted in the video (shot the day after the supposed incident) could possibly have been hit by a missile and still be as intact as it is.
  • We have no idea whether the Age reporter, Sarah Smiles, was shown the actual vehicles involved, and neither does she. And there is no chain of custody of the ambulances: we have no idea what was done to them afterward, and the Age gives us no photographs to compare to earlier pictures.
  • None of the news reports has even bothered trying to "qualify" the supposed eyewitnesses, meaning their testimony is worthless. How about if an American soldier in Iraq is picked at random, and he testifies that he absolutely saw those ambulances not get hit by any missiles on that day? For all the Age can tell, our random testifier has no less of a chance of being a valid witness than those they actually interviewed!

This puts paid to the claim that the Israelis shot any ambulance at all on July 23rd: if there had actually been such an incident, Hezbollah and the International Red Cross would not have had to stage a fake one. They would have an actual destroyed ambulance to display.

Israel has not "admitted" the charge, contrary to early reports. And it seems most unlikely that they ever will, simply because all of the available evidence indicates it never happened.

The Lebanese ambulance attack hoax of 2006 joins the Jenin "massacre" as Great Fictional Israeli War Crimes of the Twenty-First Century; both stand as stark reminders that many Moslems see nothing at all immoral about lying, so long as the "lie" advances the world caliphate (just as Communists saw lies in the furtherance of world Socialism simply as "higher-level" truth).

Journalists know this; Anderson Cooper himself remarked upon Arabs staging "ambulance runs" for the camera, with journalists eagerly cooperating to get exciting "action" shots that they knew were as fake as a three-dollar bill. But the fakery goes beyond a desire for a cool shot; a close working relationship has developed between terrorists eager to spread their propaganda and reporters desperate to destroy Republicans and George W. Bush in particular.

The latter receive and pass along the propaganda with no trace of skepticism: if Hassan Nasrallah were to announce tomorrow morning that IDF soldiers had been seen poisoning Lebanese wells, the elite media would all report it in their afternoon editions.

Thus doth jihadism and leftism conspire to thwart "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind." I do not question the media's patriotism; I nakedly observe that they have none.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 4, 2006, at the time of 5:25 PM

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The following hissed in response by: hunter

I said years ago, regarding the GWOT, that the anti-
Aemrican side of this cannot be convinced by evidence. We now have large numbers of translated documents showing Iraq and Al Qaeda working together at high formal levels prior to 911. The anti-American side ignores it. We have established working governments in Afghanistan and Iraq. They ignore it and declare defeat. We have defeated and occupied a large country with very low loses. They ignore it. Now Israel is coming under the same treatment as America in this: The anti-semite forces will believe any claim against Israel, no matter how flimsy. Anyone who looks at that vent hole in the ambulance and thinks a military missle caused it is not amenable to fact. Israel allowed itself, by its feeble and timid actions in Lebanon, to become vulnerable to these kind of false claims and silly propaganda.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 4, 2006 6:36 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Excellent, Dafydd. I excerpted and linked at Old War Dogs >> Bill's Bites.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 4, 2006 8:21 PM

The following hissed in response by: Don

I think we should apply Occams Razor to this. The simplest theory is that all Lebanese ambulances have holes from Israeli missle strikes. It's explained in Protocols of the Elders of Zion somewhere.... ;)

The above hissed in response by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 5, 2006 6:58 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

Reporters rarely have even the most rudimentary understanding of basic science and military matters, making them easy targets for Pallywood, environmentalists, etc.

Sad to see.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 5, 2006 9:24 AM

The following hissed in response by: wtanksleyjr

Please do not assume that "many Moslems see nothing at all immoral about lying." That is flatly incorrect. Instead, know that all observant Moslems believe that lying is mandated by their religion's founder as part of Jihad -- in fact, it is *defined* as Jihad, for those who can do nothing more.

Please, before allowing yourself to be led about by the nose, read the Hadith, book 52, "On Jihad". The Hadith is, for Moslems, closely equivalent to the New Testemant for Christians -- it contains historical records written down by the people who saw and heard the Founder speak. (The Koran is much different; it's supposed to contain the very words of God direct as they would come from His mouth.) The Koran does not mention Jihad except indirectly (and that only once); all doctrine about Jihad comes from the Hadith. Thus, the Hadith is both authoritative and interesting.

The above hissed in response by: wtanksleyjr [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 5, 2006 9:28 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Instead, know that all observant Moslems believe that lying is mandated by their religion's founder as part of Jihad -- in fact, it is *defined* as Jihad, for those who can do nothing more.

Don't fall into the Tancredo Trap of believing that "all observant Moslems" believe what jihadists tell them to believe.

It's intellectually lazy to lump all Moslems into a single, undifferentiated mass of "bad guys," and then to believe anything bad anyone says about the bad guys. But you have to apply real observation and logic to the issue beyond facile generalizations.

In fact, there are millions upon millions of Moslems who do not support jihad, who do not constantly lie, who do not want to kill all the infidels. There are millions of Moslems right here in America who are honest, decent, and peaceful citizens.

The Koran, like every other religious text, is open to interpretation, even if it says that everything is to be taken literally. Human ingenuity is boundless. Millions of Moslems who don't want to fight endless wars have already found ways to accomodate believing in the Koran with living peacefully in non-Moslem countries.

If they support groups like CAIR, it's because they have no idea what CAIR actually does... just like ordinary Irish Americans who used to give money to the IRA, but who would be horrified to discover what the IRA was really doing (they believed the propaganda the IRA put out).

It's not only foolish, it's suicidal for us to go to war with all of Islam: there are 1.4 billion of them. Even if we win -- and we would -- it would be the most horrific war in the history of the human race, with hundreds of millions dead... including millions dead in the United States.

Sorry, but I'm not interested in a war that would kill twenty times as many Americans as all wars in the history of the country, and ten times as many worldwide as have died in all previous wars.

I can differentiate between good Moslems (some of whom I know personally) and bad Moslems. And I think you can too, if you'll stop sloganeering long enough to think about what you're saying.

There is no question that some Moslems -- many Moslems, in fact -- believe it their religious duty to lie to hurt the infidels; others find it convenient to be told that lying is all right, because it allows them to cheat the rest of us.

But many observant Moslems are not dishonest, and it's absurd to suggest these people don't even exist.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 5, 2006 1:39 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

None of the news reports have even bothered trying to "qualify" the supposed eyewitnesses, meaning their testimony is worthless. How about if an American soldier in Iraq is picked at random, and he testifies that he absolutely saw those ambulances not get hit by any missiles on that day? For all the Age can tell, our random testifier has no less of a chance of being a valid witness than those they actually interviewed!

Humble me was there during the so-called “missile attack”, and it weren’t “missiles”. It was two firecrackers that hit the ambulances, and i should know, since i threw both of them. Long story from this point...

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 5, 2006 3:02 PM

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