German paper: Gaza beach bombing 'staged' by 'Palestinians'The explosion on a Gaza beach last Friday in which seven 'Palestinians' from one family lost their lives continues to pre-occupy much of the world's press, including here in Israel. But an account in a German newspaper that has been translated by YNet (see below) suggests that the entire 'event' was staged by the 'Palestinians'.
The Times of London reported yesterday that the Israeli Army has admitted to The Times that its official account of the explosion that killed eight Palestinians picnicking on a Gaza beach last week was flawed. The Times claims that the account is also contradicted by a UN radio transmission.
The Times also says that the army has told it that the army's report was flawed because it failed to mention two gunboat shells fired at about the time of the deaths. According to the Times, the army insists that they landed too far away to have been responsible.
Here's where it gets dicey:
Israel says that its land artillery batteries fired six shells at northern Gaza between 4.30pm and 4.48pm that afternoon, and that it can account for all but one, which was fired at 4.30pm. However, its investigation said that that shell was aimed too far away to have killed the Palestinians.
The investigation relies heavily on timing. It cites surveillance footage of the beach showing that it was quiet between 4.54 and 4.57pm, and film of ambulances apparently arriving at the scene at 5.15.
It says that the incident must therefore have happened between 4.57 and 5.10pm — at least nine minutes after it says it stopped firing land artillery.
But The Times has established that at 4.43pm the UN received a radio call from one of its officials in northern Gaza that said: “At 16.33hrs IDF artillery shelling has started again targeting the northern area, two artillery shells so far. One of the shells fell down at the coast west of the evacuated old Dugit settlement, some casualties among the people spending their day at the . . . ” Transmissions could be picked up by anyone with a scanner, which are widely available in Gaza.
Presented with the evidence of the UN transmission last night, Major-General Meir Kalifi, who led the Israeli investigation, insisted that the 4.33pm report was an earlier incident, near the abandoned settlement of Dugit. “[We] know of a request from the Red Cross to the Red Crescent at 4.30pm regarding one wounded individual along the beach. [We] believe that that is the case you are referring to,” General Kalifi said. “This is most likely in the Dugit area. Indeed they were shelling in the Dugit area, but the Dugit area was not near the incident. It was 700 metres away.”
Here's a summary of the chronology given by the Times:
16.30-16.48 Israel claims its ground batteries fired six shells. Investigation says all but the first at 16.30 are accounted for. Official investigation summary does not mention naval shells fired at 16.24 and 16.55, but officials say they are too far away to matter
16.43 Radio transmission from a UN field monitor in northern Gaza states: “At 16.33 IDF artillery shelling has started again targeting the northern area, two artillery shells so far. One of the shells fell down at the coast west of the evacuated old Dugit settlement, some casualties . . .”
16.57-17.10 The period when Israel says the picnickers must have died. This is based on film of beach between 16.54 and 16.57 apparently showing “nothing irregular”, on Palestinian reports of mass casualties at 17.12, and on a film showing ambulances arriving at 17.15
[Last bolding was mine CiJ]
Because of the Times' allegations that the army has admitted deleting the earlier shelling from the report, extreme leftist MK Zehava Gal-On of the Sheretz party has called for an international inquiry. As quoted in HaAretz, IDF Spokeswoman Miri Regev responded, "The IDF will have no problem with any decision taken by the political echelon. The IDF stands behind its investigation, and we are saying this unequivocally, we did not harm these innocent people. Everyone loves it when we admit to guilt. But this time, there is no reason to admit to guilt. The IDF was not responsible for the killing of the family of innocents on the beach in Gaza." According to both HaAretz and YNet, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz believe the IDF's investigation (and given that the IDF has tape of a calm beach twenty minutes after they finished firing shells - see above, I don't understand why there is even a question).
But where things really get interesting is in this article by YNet, which is based upon an article in a German newspaper (that has no English on their web page).
German daily Sued Deutsche, said pictures taken by Zakaria Abu Irbad, 36, a cameramen with the Palestinian independent news agency Ramattan, contradict Palestinian claims that an IDF shell killed the Ghalia family and point to the possibility that the event was staged to hold Israel responsible.
Irbad was the first journalist to arrive at the s cene after the attack and Ramattan sold footage of Hadil weeping on the beach by her dead father to all major news broadcasters.
The newspaper said in footage of the beach taken by an IDF drone at the time of the attack, five craters left by IDF artillery shells could be seen, but that 250 meters away people could also be seen.
The paper said it is strange that although shells exploded 250 meters away from a beach site where Palestinian families congregated, no one was seen running away or panicking.
Irbad told the newspaper he was told of the attack by paramedics who guided him to the scene.
But no paramedics are seen until later in the footage, raising suspicions that he was first to reach the scene.
Moreover, if Irbad was the first to get to the scene, why were most bodies covered by sheets? Who was there first to cover the bodies? The newspaper asked.
Did Hamas men hide evidence from the scene, as claimed by eyewitnesses interviewed by Israeli broadcasters?
The newspaper said Irbad evaded most of the questions addressed to him.
Asked why he didn't try to calm Hadil instead of filming her he said: "She asked me to film her. She wanted to be seen next to her father to show the world the crimes that Israel is committing."
The newspaper finally asks: "Did the shocked 10-year-old girl, who had lost her father minutes earlier, give the cameraman direction instructions?"
There's much more to this. Read the whole thing.
P.S. If anyone out there speaks German and wants to translate, I'd be grateful. Thanks.