Given Reuters’s coverage of the conflict in Lebanon, it would perhaps be understandable if the Israelis started firing on Reuters vehicles. Which is what Reuters now says they did:
Israeli aircraft fired two missiles early Sunday at an armored car belonging to the Reuters news agency, wounding five people, including two cameramen, Palestinian witnesses and hospital officials said.
The army said the troops were searching for explosives planted by Palestinian militants alongside the border fence and for tunnels under the border. After the operation began, groups of militants repeatedly gathered to try to attack the soldiers, the army and witnesses said.
The Reuters cameraman, Fadel Shama’a, 23, and Sabah Hamida, 25, who worked for a local television company, had the doors open and were about to get out of the armored vehicle in the nearby Shajaiyeh neighborhood to film the raid when it was struck by the missiles, according to Shamas Odeh, chief of Reuters TV in Gaza.
The cameramen, along with three bystanders, were injured with shrapnel wounds and all five were to undergo surgery, hospital officials said.
The front seats of the car were covered in blood and shrapnel had ripped up much of the inside of the vehicle. One of the bulletproof windows was completely destroyed.
An Israeli missile may well have struck the vehicle, under the circumstances:
Capt. Noa Meir, an army spokeswoman, said the vehicle was the only one in the combat area, was driving suspiciously and came near Israeli forces during the nighttime raid.
“That’s why it was targeted. It was seen as a threat,” she said. “There were no clear TV marks (on the car). At least we didn’t see one.”
However, the area was an active battlefield and the reporters should not have been there, she said, adding that three Hamas militants attacked soldiers from the same spot 10 minutes after the airstrike.
The Palestinians noted that the vehicle was marked with Reuters’ logo and the word “press,” but it is unclear how the Israelis were supposed to see those markings in the middle of the night.
So the attack could well have happened as described. However, given the many phony claims about Israeli attacks that have been uncovered in recent weeks, there is no reason to accord any credibility to Reuters’ Palestinian stringers.
Here is a picture of the Reuters vehicle that was supposedly hit by two missiles. Is that hole supposed to be the place where a missile entered?
Here is the rest of the vehicle. I don’t see any other sign of missile entry, certainly not in the roof:
Does that hole look like it was created by a missile? Does it look like it was created last night?
Here is another shot of the vehicle:
This one shows what appears to be a side view, with a “Palestinian journalist” displaying what may be blood on the inside of the door:
Several photographs of injured cameramen, etc., being taken to the hospital have also been published. This one ostensibly shows “[i]njured Reuters cameraman Fadel Shama’a, 23, [being] wheeled into the emergency room of the hospital in Gaza City”:
I don’t have an opinion at this point about whether the claims being made by Reuters’ Palestinian stringers are true. To my untrained eye, the photos of the vehicle do not appear to depict an armored car that was hit by two missiles. The visible hole looks to me like an old, rusted-out tear or gap in the roof. But my knowledge of military ordnance is close to zero; I leave it to others to comment more knowledgeably on the photos than I can.
I will say this, however: given what we know about staged, phony incidents like the fake attack on a Red Cross ambulance in Lebanon, it is absurd for the world’s news services to simply report the Palestinian claims as fact, as they have done. More investigation will be required to find out what, if anything, happened to the Reuters vehicle, and how the Palestinians came to be injured. In the meantime, count these as unproven allegations by an unreliable source.
Zombie, call your office!
UPDATE: So far, our readers are not impressed by Reuters’ claim. Charles Noyes’s response is typical:
As a former U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier and Viet Nam veteran, I do know a little about missile ordnance, having been on the receiving end on multiple occasions.
I can say, almost without hesitation, that the Reuters vehicle was not hit by even one, much less two, IDF missiles.
Simply do this, if nothing else, to confirm my statement: Do an internet image search for any vehicle targeted by IDF in Gaza or any other Palestinian Territory that specifically was targeting a senior Hamas leader, including the aged paraplegic founder of Hamas. Compare those vehicles to that of Reuters.
Again, there is little doubt in my mind about the veracity of the Palestinian claims about the Reuters vehicle. It’s a lie.
We haven’t yet heard from anyone who thinks the missile attack claim is plausible, based on the photographs, but if we do, we’ll post it.
FURTHER UPDATE: Still no one willing to defend Reuters’ claim. Meanwhile, many more readers have expressed skepticism. Mike Weatherford writes:
I am a retired Air Force Master Sergeant. I retired after 26 years’ service in 1991. Before that, I spent more than 20 years as an imagery analyst – one of the people that looked at and interpreted satellite, tactical, and strategic reconnaissance imagery for the Air Force. I was VERY good at my job, as the string of outstanding performance reports and five Air Force Commendation Medals attests.
I’ve looked at the imagery of the Reuters “armored vehicle”. It appears to be nothing more than a Land Rover, possibly with some additional padding. Armor would significantly add to the weight, and
would reduce the clearance between the top of the wheels and the chassis – this is not the case in the third photograph.
The photo of the damage to the roof in the first photo appears to have been caused by some heavy weight (a large stone, piece of concrete, etc.,) impacting the van, and is NOT a missile strike point. The same is true of the second photo and the strike to the rear of the van. Let us assume the Israelis were using Hellfire missiles, designed to be fired from Apache (and other) helicopters. Missiles of that size either make clean holes, or make LARGE, serrated-edged holes when they explode.
A missile explosion, either on the van or inside, would have destroyed the vehicle (remember the photos of car swarms after other Israeli missile attacks? The cars are demolished). Anyone inside would have been shredded to bits in seconds. The antipersonnel version of the Hellfire has an 8.5lb warhead, and a blast kill radius of 10 meters – 30 feet. Any strike against a car like the Reuters van would have shown blast marks (not present), secondary penetrations from shrapnel, windows and doors blown off, and shredded upholstery scattered up to 5 meters (15 feet) away. The Reuters van was definitely not hit by a Hellfire, and probably not by any other missile used by Israeli helicopters or armored vehicles. The photos shown show a “blast pattern” that is more likely a dirt splatter from a piece of concrete or large rock, not by a missile. Even a tank round or other type of armored blast would show an entirely different blast pattern than what is seen in these photos.
Finally, the “bloodstains” are also inconsistent with anyone actually being injured. The stains on the outside of the vehicle look more like they were placed there deliberately by hand. There are no bloody handprints, which would be one sign that someone who had been injured leaned against the van for support.
The photo of the person on the stretcher is the most obviously faked: there is blood on his vest, but his undershirt is spotlessly white. That wouldn’t happen to a truly injured individual. Also, the blood appears to have been thrown onto the vest, and doesn’t seem to be coming from any internal bleeding.
Just another Reuters Fauxtography and false reporting incident, nothing to see here, move along…
It seems obvious that the blood on the guy being wheeled into the emergency room isn’t his, but it possibly could have been splattered from someone else who was inside the vehicle.
We’re still waiting for the first person to defend Reuters’ claim, based on the photos.
UPDATE: See updated post here.
FURTHER UPDATE: This post has also been updated here.