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When Did the Building Collapse?

Controversy has emerged over the collapse of the large building in Qana where several dozen civilians (most likely human shields) were killed following an Israeli air strike. The controversy relates to the timing of the collapse. The airstrike was not long after midnight, whereas the IAF has said that the building apparently did not collapse until around 8 a.m. (See update to Qana post below.)

Some news accounts are simply assuming that the collapse was immediate. See, for example, the beginning of this story in the New York Times:

It was pitch black when the missiles came to this small mountain village. The children were asleep. Suddenly, a roof and a second floor were punched in on top of them. Dirt was forced into mouths. Bodies were broken.

It’s possible that the Times knows something the rest of us don’t, but, knowing what we do about the Times, that is extremely unlikely.

The most up-do-date account of the controversy I’ve seen comes from this recently-posted article in Haaretz:

The Israel Defense Forces convened a press conference Sunday evening, admitting that while the IAF did indeed strike the building in which the civilians were killed, the attack itself occurred near midnight, while reports of an explosion and the structure’s collapse were only received at around 8:30 A.M.

The air force did resume bombing Qana at 7:30 A.M., however the strikes were carried out on targets at a distance of 460 meters from the building.

“The question we don’t have an answer to is what happened between 12 midnight and 8 in the morning,” said IAF Brigadier General Amir Eshel.

Lebanese villagers in Qana who were witness to the bombing, however, say that the building’s collapse occurred in the wee hours of the night.

Witnesses at the scene corroborated the IDF claim that the strike on the building, which is located in the Hariva neighborhood of Qana, was carried out at 1:00 A.M. After the initial strike, some of the building’s residents exited in an attempt to survey the damage, in effect saving themselves.

A few minutes later, IAF planes struck the building once again, causing the walls to collapse on the residents who did not vacate, killing them in the process.

Arab media began reporting on the incident after dawn Sunday, approximately seven hours after the strike. The reports did not note, however, that the building collapsed a short time prior to Arab journalists’ arrival on the scene.

It isn’t clear at this point whether the IAF has reason to think that the collapse occurred around 8:00 a.m., or has only noted that it was first reported then. Nor have the IAF’s videos of the strikes, which may or may not resolve the question, been made public.

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