Fauxtography: Ambulance chasers

I opted out of the great ambulance airstrike controversy a few weeks ago, after the attack on the Reuters van in Gaza. As Ace said at the time,

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.

There’s since been some reexamination. After no less a figure than Aussie Foreign Minister Alexander Downer pronounced the ambulance incident a hoax, the Age newspaper went back to the scene of the alleged crime to investigate — and concluded that the airstrike really did happen. Which prompted Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt to respond with this piece debunking the hell out of the Age’s findings.

There’s much minutiae in both, so if you haven’t been following the ambulance saga you probably won’t find them interesting. If you have, dive on in.

As for the Reuters airstrike, Mark Steyn mentioned it in his latest column and I can’t let it pass without comment:

Consider, for example, the bizarre behavior of Reuters, the once globally respected news agency now reduced to putting out laughably inept terrorist propaganda. A few days ago, it made a big hoo-ha about the Israelis intentionally firing a missile at its press vehicle and wounding its cameraman Fadel Shana. Shana was posed in an artful sprawl in a blood-spattered shirt. But it had ridden up and underneath his undershirt was spotlessly white, like a summer-stock Julius Caesar revealing the boxers under his toga. What’s stunning is not that almost all Western media organizations reporting from the Middle East are reliant on local staff overwhelmingly sympathetic to one side in the conflict — that’s been known for some time — but the amateurish level of fakery that head office is willing to go along with.

Actually, Reuters didn’t claim that Shana was wounded. Here’s what they said:

One of the journalists, who worked for a local media organization, was seriously wounded. A cameraman working for Reuters was knocked unconscious in the air strike, the doctors said…

Sabbah Hmaida, who works for a local news Web site, was seriously wounded in the legs.

Fadel Shana, a Reuters cameraman, received no major bodily wounds in the air strike, but was knocked unconscious.

BizzyBlog has posted the photo to which Steyn was referring. The blood on Shana’s shirt is, in all likelihood, Hmaida’s; there’s none on the white undershirt because it came from the guy next to him, not from his own chest. Here’s another photo of Shana showing blood on his right sleeve and the underside of his right hand:


You’d need a blood-spatter expert to theorize how the blood made the patterns it did on his clothes, but I think it’s safe to say the stains came from an external source. Besides, the Palestinians like their propaganda as grotesque and maudlin as possible; if they were going to concoct a story about Israel firing on the press, they wouldn’t limit themselves to a few silver-dollar sized marks on the guy’s shirt. They’d make him look like Sissy Spacek at the end of “Carrie.”

Update: Tim Blair’s written no fewer than ten posts on the ambulance story. Numbers nine and ten in particular are worth reading.