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:

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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.

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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.