Early reports: Israel struck a four-story building in the early morning hours; or, according to CNN's Ben Wedeman on July 30, the bomb hit "right next" to the building. Wedeman also reported that the building was supposed to have been the sturdiest in Qana, which is why the victims hid there!
The next day, CNN's Brent Sadler reports that the the locals (who certainly aren't trying to get Israel off the hook) told him that the building was not struck, but that a target 20 to 30 meters (65 to 100 feet) was hit, with the blast causing the building to collapse. And according to the July 31 Lebanon Star, the building was not a sturdy four-story apartment building, but a "half-finished," three-story house, which may explain why it collapsed. Also according to the Star, the refugees were not hiding in the basement, but on the ground floor, behind a pile of dirt and sand that they hoped would protect them.
The later reports seem more reliable, as the reporters in question actually seem to have done some investigation, and questioned locals. None of this changes the basic outlines of the story: Hezbollah is firing from civilian areas, Israel warns the residents to leave, some residents don't/can't leave, and get killed in an Israeli strike that collapses a building. But it does change some of the details. Conspiracy theorists relied on various discrepancies in the early reports to charge that Qana was a total Party of God setup. It turns out that many of these discrepancies were just sloppy reporting (besides the above, some media outlets gave an incorrect timeline of the building's collapse, and others accepted estimates of body counts as facts, even though they were not yet substantiated, and turned out to be wrong). The nearby pile of dirt and sand also explains how the victims could have easily been asphyxiated, ruining another element of the conspiracy theories (claiming that the lack of blood and bruises is evidence of sham). On the other side of things, if Sadler and the Star are right, it's wrong to speak of an Israeli "attack on an apartment building." An under-construction home is not an apartment building, (nor is it the most likely place to think refugees would be hiding, for those who claim that Israel intentionally "murdered" civilians), and if the bomb landed up to 100 feet away from the building, the actual target may have been an entirely different building, a nearby missile launcher, etc.
The lesson from all this is that it's a mistake to rely on initial journalistic accounts of an event, especially when the journalists in question don't speak the language, and haven't had the time to investigate in any event.
Related Posts (on one page):
- Those Resolute, Incorruptable Journalists?:
- More Lebanon Media Notes:
- More Media news from the Israel-Party of God War:
- More on the Media and Lebanon:
- Some More Details About Qana:
- Revealing CNN Transcript:
- Mystery Deepens--Who is "Green Helmet'?:
- That Was Quick:
- More on Qana and the Question of Staged Photos: