Sunday, January 11, 2009

How the IDF Covers Its Derrière: The Bombing of the UNRWA School

OK, so you are the commander of the IDF (or its spokesperson), and you learn that an IDF missile has rammed into a UNRWA school building killing innocent civilians, including children.

So what do you do? First you conduct a "preliminary" investigation, and then release a fiction to the press: (You can check it out on the IDF website here.)

Hamas Operatives Killed in UNRWA School

After an investigation that took place over the past hour it has been found that amongst the dead at the Jabalya school were Hamas terror operatives and a mortar battery cell who were firing on IDF forces in the area. Hamas operatives Imad Abu Askhar and Hassan Abu Askhar were amongst terrorists that were identified as killed.

"We face a very delicate situation where the Hamas is using the citizens of Gaza as a protective vest," said IDF Spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu, following the incident.

To make the story look good, you accompany it with footage of Hamas operatives firing from within the school.

Unfortunately for you, it is revealed that the footage is from 2007, and the story is contradicted by the United Nations representatives on the ground.. Then some weird things start to happen:

First, UN officials say to Haaretz that IDF officers, in conversations with them, have retracted the story. There were no Hamas operatives in the school.

Then, in response to the growing publicity, the IDF conducts another "preliminary" investigation. The terrorists mysteriously disappear from the school and from the story. Now you tell the press that an IDF patrol wanted to take out a team of terrorists that was firing near the school. A "technical malfunction" made the use of a "smart missle" impossible. So the commander used a missile with a GPS system that has a 30 meter margin of error. Regrettably, missles slammed into the school.

To make things appear better, you can add that not that many people died in the school bombing, that Hamas routinely inflates numbers.

Of course, I have absolutely no reason to believe the IDF's second or third story, as I had absolutely no reason to believe the first story.

Why would any rational person believe an organization like the IDF that routinely lies?

Here is the latest IDF version of the incident. Tomorrow it may be something different. Since the IDF bans journalists from Gaza, and does not allow residents to send out pictures via cell phones, who can know what is really happening there?

One last thing. The new "investigation" is reported in Haaretz. But, just in case, you keep the original bogus story on the IDF website.

Not everybody reads Haaretz.


Sydney Nestel said...

"So the commander used a missile with a GPS system that has a 30 meter margin of error. Regrettably, missles slammed into the school. "


A typical commercial GPS, that can be bought for under $100, has an average accuracy of about 5 meters.

If the GPS systems in cars were 30 meters off, they would quite often show you driving on the wrong street.

On the street where I live, in Toronto Canada, lots are under 30 ft wide. Firing a missile (or mortar) that can be 30 meters off, means that if you where aiming for my house, you could just as easily hit any one of 3 neighbours on either side, as well as 4 houses on the other side of the street. Basically you would have a 1 in 11 chance of hitting the right house. You might as well not bother, or else just carpet bomb the entire neighbourhood.

Anonymous said...

In the New York Times, I read yet another story. According to the army, the victims were outside the school, not inside. And pictures are showing corpses outside the compound. Nu??? The victims are buried, everybody should know by now. Were is the truth? I still can figure it out.

"Israel said that a preliminary investigation showed that mortar fire from the school compound prompted Israeli forces to return fire. The Israeli mortar rounds killed as many as 40 people outside the school"

Anonymous said...

Hands up who is surprised.
Even before this war, since the beginning of the second intifada, deaths of Palestinian civilians at the hands of Israeli soldiers in the West Bank aren't investigated automatically any more, as had been the case before. Now investigations only happen when western foreigners are harmed or the incident is covered by the western press, iow, to avert bad PR - and what's better to avert bad PR than better PR. Those conducting the preliminary "investigations" are routinely the commanding officers of the accused troops, including here, according to Haaretz:
"The probe, which was conducted by the Paratrooper Brigade whose troops were responsible for the area..."

Since COs are responsible for their men, any finding of egregious misconduct would potentially implicate themselves, so that's really the fox investigating the henhouse murders.

Anonymous said...

As if on cue, Larry of Cyberia now has an extensive post on the subject:

Anonymous said...

Give the IDF a break.

Nobody's perfect.

Mistakes happen in war. Surely it wasn't to their advantage to attack the school.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, there's a long and documented (by B'Tselem and AI, e.g.) history of the Israeli army targeting civilians or using them as human shields not by mistake (although these happen, too, of course) but as a result of policy. Occasionally, such as this time (perhaps; the jury's still out), or with the similar incident in Qana, Lebanon, they turn too reckless for their own (PR) good, but to me it seems they're testing the limits. "What can we get away with before Big Brother calls it quits?", something like that.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that the army has imposed new rules of combat, which are more harfmul for civilians? To help a comrade in distress, a soldier is allowed to endanger civilian's lives. I heard an Apache pilot confess it to a BBC reporter. Is this new stuff or not? Is it compatible with the Geneva Conventions?

Anonymous said...

Either there was some military reason they needed to bomb the place or it was an accident. Accidents happen in war no matter how careful they are.

Either way we need to cut them some slack.

They don't do things without a reason. At the very least it would be a waste of artillery.

Anonymous said...

It is a long time since you posted this, but I wanted to show you how this story can take on a second life as an accusation against the UN and the media:

In the interests of transparency, I am "anonymous" in that thread too.

Anonymous said...

hey jerry,

no comment from you about this latest hoax? in fact, the IDF has proof that 12 died, not 40 in this incident and 9 of 12 were Hamas.

how about being a mentsch and rip into the media for repeatedly allowing such lies into the mainstream?

Anonymous said...

This video shows white phosphorous shells and an artillery shell landing directly inside the compound of a UN school.