Monday, August 28, 2006

Right Place, Wrong Time (Again)

After Israel bombed the U.N. observer post in Lebanon last month, I posted that it was not without historical precedent. This past weekend, more impartial observers of Israeli military operations found themselves in the crosshairs:
An Israeli air strike hit a Reuters vehicle in Gaza City on Saturday, wounding two journalists as they covered a military incursion, doctors and residents said.

One of the Palestinian journalists, who worked for a local media organization, was seriously wounded. A cameraman working for Reuters was knocked unconscious in the air strike, one of several in the area.

The Israeli army said the vehicle was hit because it was acting suspiciously in an area of combat and had not been identified as belonging to the media.

"During the operation, there was an aerial attack on a suspicious vehicle that drove in a suspicious manner right by the forces," army spokeswoman Captain Noa Meir said.

"This car was not identified by the army as a press vehicle," she said. "If journalists were hurt, we regret it."

The missile struck the vehicle after dark. The armored car was clearly labeled as a media vehicle, with signs on all sides, including the roof.

Michael Lawrence, Reuters Managing Editor for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: "We are deeply concerned at this attack on a clearly marked press vehicle as journalists were doing their job to report the story from Gaza.

"We understand that the army says it had no intention of targeting the media, but this incident is totally unacceptable and we urge a careful examination of how this happened to ensure there is no repeat."
Yet another "unfortunate mistake"? Or the latest chapter in an Israeli policy of shielding military operations from inconvenient observers?

A month after Israel's excuses and sincerest of apologies for bombing the U.N post, we're beginning to get more color on what might have happened. Here's the president of the Philadelphia district of the Zionist Organization of America, writing in The Weekly Standard:
During the recent month-long war between Hezbollah and Israel, U.N. "peacekeeping" forces made a startling contribution: They openly published daily real-time intelligence, of obvious usefulness to Hezbollah, on the location, equipment, and force structure of Israeli troops in Lebanon.

UNIFIL--the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, a nearly 2,000-man blue-helmet contingent that has been present on the Lebanon-Israel border since 1978--is officially neutral. Yet, throughout the recent war, it posted on its website for all to see precise information about the movements of Israeli Defense Forces soldiers and the nature of their weaponry and materiel, even specifying the placement of IDF safety structures within hours of their construction. New information was sometimes only 30 minutes old when it was posted, and never more than 24 hours old.

Inquiries made of various Israeli military and government representatives and analysts yielded near unanimous agreement that at least some of UNIFIL's postings, in the words of one retired senior military analyst, "could have exposed Israeli soldiers to grave danger." These analysts, including a current high ranking military official, noted that the same intelligence would not have been provided by the U.N. about Israel's enemies.
I'd love to read Cliff May's take on this, but I'm not holding my breath.


Blogger DED said...

I give up.

8/28/2006 2:20 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I don't get it.
Assuming the article you quote is correct and is related to the Israeli air strike, how can you possibly call them "impartial observers?"

Holding two contradictory and unresolved thoughts at once is a signal that emotion is taking over your reason.

Yes, you get paid to be accurate and impartial, and I'm sure you are in your line of work, but I think you're relaxing a bit on this stuff.

8/28/2006 6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The point is that the Israelis apoligized for a "mistake" whereas the article suggests that the the IDF had cause to attack the UN post. So, was it a mistake, as the IDF maintains, or was it deliberate? If the IDF had a problem with what the UN was doing, might there have been another way to deal with it?

8/28/2006 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The missile struck the vehicle after dark." It's rather tough to read the lettering on a car in the dark. It's likely that in the confusion of a nighttime operation the Israelis mistook the car for an enemy.

8/28/2006 9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"After Israel bombed the U.N. observer post in Lebanon last month, I posted that it was not without historical precedent." From his link, I believe he's referring to Israel's attack on the USS Liberty, which he believes Israel attacked with full knowledge that the ship was American. He cites James Bamford, who believes Israel attacked the Liberty to conceal a huge massacre of hundreds of POWs. The major problem with this theory is that there's no evidence such a massacre even occurred.

"Cunning Realist", indeed.

8/28/2006 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Hedley Bowes said...

[waves again to the propagandists from Faux News]

8/29/2006 12:58 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

It's standard policy for Israel to apologize for any accusation and then conduct an investigation afterwards. However bad their press is, it's a lot worse if they don't apologize up front.

8/29/2006 1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you guys seen the pictures of the damaged Reuters van? The hole that was supposedly caused by teh missle looks like an old rusted out tear.

And do you really think that anyone would have lived if the Israeli's had actually shot the van with a missle? Have you seen the pictures of the remnants of cars in the Gaza strip after the Israeli's shot them with missles?

There is no comparison.

8/30/2006 5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smart bombs and dumb pilots?

8/30/2006 9:50 PM  
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