Human Rights Watch debunks Zombie’s ambulance-hoax claims? Update: Zombie promises response

posted at 1:43 pm on December 26, 2006 by Allahpundit

Remember this? HRW went back and interviewed the victims and Red Cross workers involved, checked patient intake forms, revisited the scene of the attack and the two ambulances that were allegedly hit by Israeli missiles, and concluded that, yes, it really did happen. The, er, burning question: how did two missiles from an Israeli drone punch through the roof of an ambulance without incinerating the entire vehicle? HRW’s answer (footnotes omitted):

The limited damage and the high precision of the strikes on the ambulances suggest that the weapon was a smaller type of missile fired from an Israeli drone or helicopter. Israel is in possession of an arsenal of highly precise missiles that can be fired from either helicopters or drones and are designed to limit the damage to their targets. The Israeli-designed and manufactured SPIKE anti-armor missile system and the still experimental DIME (dense inert metal explosive) missile are examples of smaller missiles designed to cause smaller explosions and limit collateral damage. Such missiles cause less powerful explosions than the previous generation of US-manufactured TOW and Hellfire missiles (often used by the IDF in assassination attempts against Palestinian militants in Gaza and the West Bank), which would have destroyed the ambulances completely. While the smaller missiles can be fired from either drones or helicopters, none of the witnesses reported hearing helicopters in the air before or during the attack, so it is most likely the missiles were fired from an Israeli drone…

Human Rights Watch cannot conclusively state which missiles were used in the attack on the ambulances, because our researchers did not find diagnostic shrapnel or missile parts at the scene, and because of the experimental nature of some missiles used by the IDF. The DIME is a weapon with a casing designed to disintegrate in an effort to minimize collateral damage from its fragmentation. Regardless of the weapon used, the IDF certainly has the capability to attack vehicles with limited impact missiles designed to cause low collateral damage.

Click here and scroll through the photos. We had a loooong debate among several munitions experts in the comments here a few months ago in connection with a different missile strike, namely, the one on the Reuters press van. The damage was oddly limited in that case, too:

windshield.jpg

Noah Schachtman of Defense Tech told me he thought it looked “strange” but wouldn’t hazard a guess as to what might have caused it. One of our readers thought it looked like blast damage from a 70mm rocket, but evidently HRW thinks it’s something new and cutting edge.

One other point I want to mention from the report because I debunked it myself months ago.

The claim that the damage to the ambulances must have occurred long before July 23 because of the appearance of rust on the ambulance in photographs taken a week after the attack is baseless. Coastal Lebanon is not a “dry climate…in the summer,” as alleged, but is extremely humid – as anyone present in Lebanon during the war can recount. The saline humidity of Lebanon’s coast causes rapid rusting, especially on damaged metals such as shrapnel-torn roofs.

Indeed. Compare the above photo of the Reuters van, taken just a few days after the incident, to this one taken the night of the attack.

norust.jpg

HRW sums up:

In conclusion, there was no “hoax.” All of the available evidence shows that the Israeli attack which hit the Qana ambulances took place as reported. Many of the earlier reports on the incident have minor inconsistencies that should be corrected. For example, Human Rights Watch’s report originally said that Israeli warplanes had carried out the attack, while further investigation established that the missiles most likely were fired by Israeli drones. Sloppy and sometimes exaggerated reporting in the news media contributed to some of the confusion. For example, while most reports correctly stated that Ahmad Fawaz lost his right leg, at least one claimed he lost his left leg and Yahoo’s Kevin Site’s “In the Hot Zone” reported that he lost both his legs. None of these minor errors, however, justifies Zombietime’s armchair conjectures of an elaborate Hezbollah hoax. The basic truth remains, however desperately some commentators have tried to deny it: an Israeli attack hit two clearly marked ambulances on the night of July 23. The Zombietime website itself acknowledged that, “if true,” the attack constitutes “an egregious and indefensible violation of the Geneva Convention[s].”

We’ll see what Zombie has to say. In the meantime, I leave you with these sage words from Ace explaining why he and I backed off this story in early September:

The fact that the sort of damage inflicted on the press van is similar to the damage inflicted on the Lebanese ambulances should not be taken as suggestive of the press-van hit being a fake. It should rather be taken as suggestive that the ambulance-hit stories are more likely to be true, and attempts to debunk them, while well-intentioned and inspired by good questions about the extent of damage inflicted, should be reexamined.

The MSM digs into a storyline or narrative and won’t give it up, no matter what conflicting evidence there might be. It’s human nature, and it’s not suprising bloggers do the same. But still, if bloggers are supposed to be honest brokers more self-aware of the human foibles and biases that infect MSM reportage, we really do need to be more on guard against this.

Update: Zombie e-mails to say he/she’s working on a debunking of the debunking. Stay tuned…

Update: Dan Riehl says he called this one legit back on September 3rd.


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Does Human Rights Watch spend as much time and effort meticulously documenting all the frauds perpetrated by the terrorists? Considering the misuse by terrorists to use ambulances to move around, am I supposed to care if one of them was hit?

EF on December 26, 2006 at 2:02 PM

interesting discussion. I had just about forgotten this. Frankly, I’m still kind of wondering how a rocket that in one cause takes out an entire building and “kills tons of civilians” can manage … NOT to puncture a reuters van.

I know they’re saying it’s something more cutting edge or whatever, but why would they use one sort of rocket on one set of vehicles and another on … an ambulence?

and besides that … weren’t there reports that these vehicles were being used to transport equipment and personel? From I think there’s a story somewhere where one reporter was transporting a Hezbollah guy around cuz the guy was giving him a story.

Tell me they’re not consorting with Isreal’s enemies … and they didnt deserve to be whacked. If the terrorists can use the UN as a body sheild why should we believe that theyre not using everyone else esp considering that a previous story suggests that the press is scared enough of them to give them more positive coverage in order to keep their reporters safe.

When reporters become tools for terrorists … where do we go for news?

who knows?

One Angry Christian on December 26, 2006 at 2:02 PM

I believe Zombietime. ‘Nuff Said.

Human Rights Watch cannot conclusively state which missiles were used in the attack on the ambulances, because our researchers did not find diagnostic shrapnel or missile parts at the scene, and because of the experimental nature of some missiles used by the IDF.

So, you don’t really know, do you, HRW? You’re just guessing so you can debunk Zombie, MONTHS later.

Mazztek on December 26, 2006 at 2:03 PM

There is enough circumstantial evidence gained by bloggers to merit a real investigation. The evidence is long gone by now so this entire point and debate is now moot. It’s a dead dog.

Egfrow on December 26, 2006 at 2:08 PM

Without drawing a conclusion as to the causes of the damage to the ambulance and the van, does it appear to anyone else that the damage to the ambulance looks different from the damage inflicted on the van? The van looks like it was hit at an angle, given the fashion in which the roof was fractured. However, it looks like the ambulance was hit directly from the top or at an extremely steep angle, given that the roof doesn’t look shredded and the damage assymetrical the way it appears witht he press van. How can a rocket from any aircraft hit a vehicle directly from the top if the vehicle is moving at the time?

Mark V. on December 26, 2006 at 2:14 PM

So what HRW is saying is that Israel now has high tech weapons capable of puncturing through the roof of the ambulance but somehow disintegrating, causing little physical damage to the interior of the ambulance, without shearing through the floor and damaging drive mechanisms? Wow, I’m amazed. . .not.

heroyalwhyness on December 26, 2006 at 2:15 PM

I have not followed this story close enough to recall all the facts. I will say this. Israel is fighting terrorists that will use any and all methods to KILL any living breathing Jew (or Christian for that matter). I forget where, but it has be documented that the terrorists AREusing ambulances to transport weapons, ammo, personnel etc. In my eyes, the terrorists have made the ambulances legitimate targets. Let me say that again THE TERRORISTShave made them legitimate targets. If human rights watch wants to have any credibility, start by condemning the terrorists for putting civilians in the line of fire, by cowardly hiding behind them at every turn.
But we all know that won’t happen. Everything is Israel’s fault.

still468 on December 26, 2006 at 2:17 PM

Now you blew up zombies site. He/she can’t access it to issue a rebuttal. See here.

LakeRuins on December 26, 2006 at 2:30 PM

I just don’t see how it’s possible that a weapon that can burn a hole through the roof of an ambulance won’t destroy or burn up at least some part of the inside of the ambulance and leaves no shrapnel or part of itself in the wreckage…I guess the weapon is so precise it exactly strikes where the dome was, vaporizes itslef AND the dome so there are no weapon or dome parts anywhere, then turns off it’s incindiery components the moment after vaporization. Plus, HRW is notoriously anti-Israel and pro-terrorist…they condemn Israel’s self-defense yet remain SILENT when pali’s launch katusha (sp?) rockets at Israeli schoolchildren. Consider the source.

JustTruth101 on December 26, 2006 at 2:34 PM

I like the “this is the hole in the asphalt where the missile hit” picture.

I think I said at the time it might have been a 20mm cannon round–in other words, a big, heavy bullet. That seems more logical than the “experimental missile that we can’t tell you about be cause it’s secret” theory.

see-dubya on December 26, 2006 at 2:41 PM

Based on the track record of HRW (to be kind, it’s poor), I’m siding with zombie.

JammieWearingFool on December 26, 2006 at 2:44 PM

Can’t wait for Zombie’s report.

One Angry Christian on December 26, 2006 at 2:49 PM

For example, while most reports correctly stated that Ahmad Fawaz lost his right leg, at least one claimed he lost his left leg and Yahoo’s Kevin Site’s “In the Hot Zone” reported that he lost both his legs. None of these minor errors,

Minor, MINOR, er excuse me but I would think loss of a limb is more then a minor error. Not running out of bounds in the 4th quarter to save time on the clock is an error.
HRW know as much about military munitions as I know about brain surgery, even if I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express© last night.

LakeRuins on December 26, 2006 at 2:59 PM

The typical blood libel…Once again the Zionists are in possession of mysterious new weapons that nobody sees, hears smells and dont leave any trace…Just the Jews up to the same old dirty tricks using them on the poor, disadvantaged innocent Arab victims.

Zombies gonna have lotsa fun with this one.

Doctorted on December 26, 2006 at 3:00 PM

Is there a hole in the bottom of the ambulence?

Or did the missle/rocket explode after it entered the ambulence?

If there was an explosion inside, there would be no ambulence(nothing recognizable at least).

Zombie is right.

Talon on December 26, 2006 at 3:06 PM

AmbulAnce, not Ambulence.

PIMF!

Talon on December 26, 2006 at 3:07 PM

I’m reminded of this video, showing Pali terrorists hopping from location to location using UN ambulences.

Good Lt on December 26, 2006 at 3:11 PM

Zombietime Blog Allegedly Hit by Allahpundit Missles.

The limited damage and the high precision of the strikes on Zombietime suggest that the weapon was a smaller type of missile fired from Queens, NY.

EF on December 26, 2006 at 3:13 PM

Yeah, they probably have a mysterious death ray, too. What a crock.

HRW admits that they don’t know, but that doesn’t stop them from pontificating. Show us a weapon that will punch the roof but create no damage inside; and if it really could do that, what would be the point of using it?

bofh on December 26, 2006 at 3:13 PM

NEWS FLASH!!!

The highly precise missile designed to limit damage to their targets was found to be – a 2″ Cherry Fire Cracker, better known by Islamists as the Hoax Bomb.

pocomoco on December 26, 2006 at 3:36 PM

HRW has very little credibility with me so this story is meaningless in my mind. Stuff happens in war, this is something new? I read an AP report last night about the bombing of the Mogadishu airport by Ethiopia and who do you think was the one victim of the blast they reported on? A woman. The point in all this is that the news organiztions have lost all respect for objectivity and have taken sides. I know this so I believe none of what I read and only half of what I see……

ritethinker on December 26, 2006 at 4:53 PM

The limited damage and the high precision of the strikes on the ambulances suggest that the weapon was a smaller type of missile fired from an Israeli drone or helicopter.

Get a good trial lawyer on this travesty. SUGGEST lays the Jurassic Park scene – scoot over quick the part about dino genes being impossible to filch from mosquitos and then get on with the story.

Israel is in possession of an arsenal of highly precise missiles that can be fired from either helicopters or drones and are designed to limit the damage to their targets.

Generally true statement, then watch what follows …

The Israeli-designed and manufactured SPIKE anti-armor missile system and the still experimental DIME (dense inert metal explosive) missile are examples of smaller missiles designed to cause smaller explosions and limit collateral damage. Such missiles cause less powerful explosions than the previous generation of US-manufactured TOW and Hellfire missiles (often used by the IDF in assassination attempts against Palestinian militants in Gaza and the West Bank), which would have destroyed the ambulances completely.

Generally true statement about life in missle tech… apart from the illogic of building a missle system that doesn’t destroy anything, but they were just lead-in statements that blur reality with conjecture…

While the smaller missiles can be fired from either drones or helicopters, none of the witnesses reported hearing helicopters in the air before or during the attack, so it is most likely the missiles were fired from an Israeli drone.

Where’s the evidence for the “most likely” claim? They just said themselves, no witnesses reported hearing helicopters … which still leaves “no missles” as the most likely explanation (Occam’s Razor). “Drones” runs a distant, distant second.

Human Rights Watch cannot conclusively state which missiles were used in the attack on the ambulances, because our researchers did not find diagnostic shrapnel or missile parts at the scene, and because of the experimental nature of some missiles used by the IDF.

Human Rights Watch cannot conclusively state which missles, thanks to what could be the incompetence of “their researchers” (who will remain nameless and uncontactable)). Cannot means not able. That’s a true statement, absolutely, but then HRW claims it’s the fault of the Israelis that HRW can’t produce any evidence, for the Israelis are using the hitherto unheard of “experimental nature” impossibility. There is a simpler explanation. There is no evidence of missle to collect, because there were no missles.
Last collossal howlers, dressed up as proof, penetrating deeper into the outer space of science fiction:

The DIME is a weapon with a casing designed to disintegrate in an effort to minimize collateral damage from its fragmentation.

Minimize, you HRW despicable liars, does not mean vanish without a trace. Missles all have signature debris, big or small. Hiding behind the unconfirmable “experimental” is HRW’s defense.

Regardless of the weapon used, the IDF certainly has the capability to attack vehicles with limited impact missiles designed to cause low collateral damage.

But alas, dear HRW, no one on this planet has built, experimental or otherwise, any explosive device that doesn’t leave any trace of its passing. Crediting supernatural abilities to the Israelis is the excuse Human Rights Watch is using to cover the evil propaganda they help spread.
Well, spit! Zombie did a great job, laying it out for all to see.

naliaka on December 26, 2006 at 6:05 PM

I am not sure why you are convinced it is not a hoax. I see nothing in what you posted that makes a missile strike the stronger alternative. It appears to be the lesser alternative to me. That it was contrived appears to be more likely. Accordingly it does not bolster the ambulance story either.

MarkB on December 26, 2006 at 6:06 PM

The HRW web site is truly worth looking at. Especially their refutation of the missile strike. Take a close look at the roof of the ambulance. It is shredded inwards like a huge fist punched down through it.

Then look at the upholstery on the seats. Untouched. Look down at the floor where HRW says the missile penetrated. Quite small that hole.

Then look at the little hole in the pavement where the lying sacks of shit claim the missile hit. I can’t believe these bass turds. HRW’s own web site invalidates their claim.

shermacman on December 26, 2006 at 6:06 PM

Where’s all the blood one would expect on the gurney mattress? Some guy loses his leg, there’s gonna be blood and lots of it quirting around.

Why wasn’t the supposed missile dug up out of the pavement? This omission seems quite curious. If there’s a slug of metal in the bottom of that hole, where is it?

In one breath they pitch missiles that fall apart and cause little damage, in the next breath they have that fragile missile burying itself in the pavement rather than splattering all over it? Which way is it gonna be? Were they shooting cardboard rockets, or tungsten penetrators? Can’t argue it both ways. Gotta pick one.

I’m still very skeptical of HRW’s “debunking” they rely far too much on supposed eye witness accounts. Any cop will tell you an eyewitness is the least reliable form of evidence available.

Purple Avenger on December 26, 2006 at 9:40 PM

I like the part where HRW admits that Israel uses super-duper-extra-double-dog secret missiles that are intended to limit collateral damage

Damn Jooooooosss.

HerrMorgenholz on December 26, 2006 at 10:46 PM

Allah, you seem to be conflating the two stories without acknowledging a very significant difference between the ambulances and the Reuters van: The van is armored, the ambulances are not.

Any munition that would cause only the damage seen on the ambulances would be pretty much pointless to put in the air, and a waste of time to fire. The notion of there being multiple Israeli drones firing crappy experimental not-so-explosive munitions at ambulances in wartime is ludicrous.

Pablo on December 27, 2006 at 2:24 AM

It begs the question if You build a missile to kill a person in a car or van but all it did was wound one person in said van, then I guess it’s back to the drawing board.
And I don’t buy the self-destructing missile theory. What about explosive residue? And I don’t really know much about armor piercing missiles but I believe that they tend to cause lots of kinetic damage on the inside of what ever they hit. I am still waiting for HRW to retract their claim that Hezbollah didn’t use civilians has human shields.

Gwillie on December 27, 2006 at 2:37 AM

Hmm. Zombie’s blog is still down. What did you do, Allah?

EF on December 27, 2006 at 9:15 AM

Any munition that would cause only the damage seen on the ambulances would be pretty much pointless to put in the air, and a waste of time to fire. The notion of there being multiple Israeli drones firing crappy experimental not-so-explosive munitions at ambulances in wartime is ludicrous.

Pablo on December 27, 2006 at 2:24 AM

I agree. What good does a weapon like that do for anyone?

And I agree with Allah that we don’t want to be accused of crying wolf, but there are a lot of problems with this story here, not the least of which is that no one seemed to be able to keep the story straight.

With all of that, I don’t see why we’re supposed to drop it just because Human Rights Watch has given up a story that is heavy on speculation and light on proof of any kind.

Why should we trust their speculation over Zombie’s questioning? Does HRW have a cool youtube video????

Until then…

Esthier on December 27, 2006 at 11:18 AM

The Israeli-designed and manufactured SPIKE anti-armor missile system and the still experimental DIME (dense inert metal explosive) missile are examples of smaller missiles designed to cause smaller explosions and limit collateral damage. Such missiles cause less powerful explosions than the previous generation of US-manufactured TOW and Hellfire missiles (often used by the IDF in assassination attempts against Palestinian militants in Gaza and the West Bank), which would have destroyed the ambulances completely. While the smaller missiles can be fired from either drones or helicopters, none of the witnesses reported hearing helicopters in the air before or during the attack, so it is most likely the missiles were fired from an Israeli drone…

And still be so precise that they cut a perfect circle directly in the center of the red cross, removing the roof vent as if it were unbolted, punch a beautiful little round hole in the pavement, and yet, leave virtually no damage in the goddamned vehicle, and than vanish without a trace! Wow! It’s Magick!

HRW: desperate liars grasping at straws.

Spiny Norman on December 27, 2006 at 2:49 PM

I wish Israel totally burned Southern Lebanon.

Hilts on December 27, 2006 at 2:56 PM

If, in fact, terrorists (enemy combatants) were using the ambulance, then it would not be a violation of the Geneva convention to target that vehicle. The use of the vehicle by the enemy makes it a legitimate target.

Signatories cannot be held from targeting the enemy in that case, or there would be no mechanism to prevent a violator or non-signatory from simply doing all their firing from behind civilians – even bureaucrats realize that.

The world just holds Israel (and the US) to standards that no one else is held to.

Merovign on December 27, 2006 at 3:31 PM

Those are pics of the Reuters-van hoax…

The Ambulance hoax was even more transparent…

Or should I say Ambulance hoaxes.

…then there is the Qana-II hoax, the Tire-fire hoax that was a Lebanese AirForce base hosting Hezbollah, the Gaza-beach hoax, the Jenin-grad hoax…

Somehow, when Jew-hating HRW says a magic missile took a damage minimizing path into fitting exactly the manufactured claims it is required to support, the KISS principle says B*llsh*t.

DANEgerus on December 27, 2006 at 7:58 PM