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The German Suedduetche Zeitung ran the following article with a detailed examination of the evidence in the Gaza Beach shooting. It clarifies many of the problems with the story disseminated by the Palestinians and media.

The Middle East: The war of images
Seven casualties in a Gaza beach: Was it a shelling attack by Israel? Or an exploding Palestinian land mine? An example of how Palestinians sometimes bend the truth.
by Thorsten Schmitz


Source (in German, with photos: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/ausland/artikel/315/78237/5/



Last Friday ten year old Huda Ghalia rose early, although she did not have any school. She was excited. The last exams were written, and large summer holidays had begun. Huda's father Ali had promised his children to organize a picnic at the beach in northern Gaza on that Friday last week .

Huda is, a cousin tells us, one of the class scholars and loves math, ‎biology and classics. Their favorite poem is by Mahmud Darwish: Calling Card is a sad poem about a homeless Palestinian and his hate for settlers.

The family from the 35,000 inhabitant town of Beit Lahia loaded up with plastic tables and chairs, cooked ears of corn and Pita bread on the short way to the beach. Beit Lahija is well-known for its strawberries, in addition, however, from here short-range missiles are fired on Israel.

For the father, one of his two wives and five of the sons and daughters the picnic had a deadly end. Before 5 PM a shell exploded g in the midst of the family. Seven humans lost their lives that Friday afternoon in the sand or in the ambulance.


The bloody picnic made Huda Ghalija famous within a few hours world-wide. This was owing to the cameraman Zakarija Abu Harbed. Only few minutes after the explosion of shrapnel from a ball-filled shell the 36 year old cameraman from Gaza city with camera and full equipment was at the scene of the catastrophe.

A lucrative job
Harbed works for the Arab TV Ramattan News Agency. The agency has offices in Ramallah in the West Bank and in Gaza city, the capital of the Gaza Strip.

The largest TV broadcasters in the world, CNN and ABC, news agencies such as Reuters and Associated press, and also German TV firms, work almost exclusively with Palestinian camera men, if it concerns reports out of the Gaza Strip.

The pictures of the hopeless world in the Gaza Strip are filmed primarily by Palestinians. As a cameraman, working for Western media is considered one of the most lucrative jobs in the Palestinian areas. Some earn as much as 250 US dollar a day, as much as some Palestinian extended families earn in half a year.

Cameraman Harbed had occupational luck on past Friday: He was first at the place of the misfortune. His agency, Ramattan news Agency sold the heart-rending pictures of the hysterical and tear-flooded Huda Ghalia to television stations around the entire world. In Australia as in India, in Europe as in the USA, Harbed's photographs of Huda were shown: As she tears her hair and strikes her chest, as she sinks beside her dead father into the sand, as she runs completely alone dozens of meters in the sand.

In the Arab world and in the Palestinian areas the cause of the death of the Ghalia family members was already certain on Friday: Israeli shelling. This verdict was also bolstered by archive photos of Israeli soldiers firing artillery shells, which some Arab television stations cut into the film of cameraman Harbed.

In opinion of the Hamas-led autonomy authority, and in the opinion of Fatah head and president of Palestinian Authority, Mahmud Abbas, the Ghalias were killed by Israeli bombardment. They both used the word "massacre". In rare agreement still on Saturday, Hamas head of the government Ismail Hanija and Abbas symbolically adopted Huda and vowed they would be responsible for the remainder of their life for her living costs.

A Palestinian child, who lost its father, is considered an orphan. (Huda's physical birth mother Hamdia survived the detonation with an injury) Likewise, the investigation of a team of the US human rights group, Human Rights Watch, concluded provisionally that Israel was responsible for the shell explosion.


The group formulates its conclusions, however, carefully and less certainly: After interviews with victims, eye-witnesses, policemen and physicians and visiting the scene of the disaster, one preserves "strong assumptions" that Israeli artillery is responsible for the misfortune. The report of the human rights groups does not mention however that their investigator researched the incident for evidence only after a day had elapsed - allowing enough time to remove important pieces of evidence.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense concluded, after first evaluations of radar and satellite photographs, that the projectile, which led to the death of the seven Palestinians did not originate with the army. Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said, that while Israel regrets the death of the seven Palestinians, this does not mean however "that we were responsible for it".

According to investigations of the Israeli army, based only on pictures and medical findings, not on on the scene searches, the Israeli army fired six shells in that Friday afternoon toward Gaza beach. According to data supplied by Halutz, five of the six shells hit in the time between 16.31 and 16.48 - approximately 250 meters north of that place, in which the family picnic had taken place. The artillery bombardment was due to Palestinian rocket launchers.

An unmanned airplane of the Israeli army filmed the Gaza Strip at the time of the bombardment from the air. On the films one sees on the one hand five impact holes of the shells in the beach, in addition, 250 meters to the south, humans. According to data of the army the explosion at the beach section, at which the Ghalias picnicked, must have taken place between 16.57 and 17.10. Before 16.57 normal beach activity is to be seen on the film of the army.

The fact that humans did not react to the five shell impacts at 250 meters distance by rushing to escape is strange. The next scene on the army film shows ambulances, arriving at the beach. That is at 17.15 o'clock. The hospital, where the ambulances came, lies five minutes away from the site of the explosion.

Possible dud

Over the impact site, it was the sixth shell, which, according to statements of the human rights group and of the Palestinian government, caused the death of the seven family members as a dud, The Israeli army cannot give any information. It regards it however as "impossible" that the shell deviated a whole 250 meters from its target.

As further proof Israel states that it treated four of the beach casualties in hospitals in Tel Aviv. From the body of one of the wounded fragments were saved, which could not have originated from weapons in the arsenal of the Israeli army.

The Israeli army does not exclude the possibility that the detonation was due to a mine, which had been buried there by Palestinians, in order to prevent the Israeli navy from landing commandos in the Gaza Strip.

In view of the contradictory statements, great importance is attached to Harbed's television pictures. These however raise more questions than they contribute to clarifying. The original photographs have meanwhile become so doubtful that CNN shows them only in abbreviated form at its Website.

To the Sueddeutche Zeitung, Harbed explains that he had been informed afterwards about the explosion and driven to the scene by the rescue medics in the ambulance. In his pictures however, Harbed films the hysteria of the ten-year Huda, as if he were a witness of the detonation. Also he films the arrival of the medics, as though he was at the beach beforehand. Additionally, some of the dead and wounded are covered with cloths - who did that?

Harbed claims that Huda escaped serious injury, since she was bathing in the sea. In his photos, however, Huda is running around in dry street clothes. Harbed runs several minutes of the crying Huda and afterwards turns his camera to the dead and injured.

Suddenly a man beside Huda's dead father can be discerned, until now covered and motionless, who appears with a machine gun in his hand. In the pictures of the cameraman one can recognize both medics in green OI clothes as well as dozens of men, most with typical Hamas full beards, apparently securing pieces of evidence.

However one must ask, why the medics do not worry about the injured people and policemen do not secure the place. Hove the Hamas men, as Israeli media quote Palestinian eye witnesses, removed pieces of evidence?

Evasive answers of the cameraman

It is also strange why in Harbed's pictures we cannot discern a crater. The more cameraman Harbed is asked by Sueddeutche Zeitung in the telephone interview, the more he evades the issue. Was he at the scene of the incident before the ambulance arrived? Who are the civilians, who are cleaning the beach? Who is the armed man on the ground, who suddenly rises? If it was an Israeli army shell that killed the Ghalia family members, why don't the Palestinians show its fragments?

And: Why didn't it occur to Harbed to calm the hysterical Huda down instead of pursuing her for several minutes with his camera? Harbed says: "She asked me to film her. She wanted to be shown to the world with her father and show the world what crimes Israel commits." The ten-year Huda, who lost seven family members, distraught in mourning, is supposed have given Harbed cinema direction instructions?

Pallywood

The fact that Palestinians fabricate using pictures or bring incorrect pictures into circulation in the Middle East war is not new. In the media parlance, since the US TV Magazine 60 Minutes sensational documentary, one speaks of "Pallywood" - following Hollywood's film industry. In the [60 minutes] report for example one can see Palestinians of the latest Intifada, who carry a dead person on a stretcher. Someone trips, the alleged dead man falls on the ground - and quickly jumps back on the stretcher, lies down and acts like a dead man.

A recent example of an attempt of Palestinians to lead the world public by the nose is the Israeli Air Force attack on last Tuesday on three members of the "Islamic Jihad", in which eight civilians, among them two children, were killed. After the attack on the car, in which the members of the terror group sat, one sees three men briefly, as they remove a short-range missile in a hurry from the car.

For two days the Ramattan TV news Agency Internet site blinked with an "urgent flash: Message for our customers." As if the company is anxious to further spread the Huda pictures, whose authenticity is doubted by many people, pointing out thereby that that it possesses exclusive rights to the pictures. Nobody has the right to disseminate the pictures further without consent of Ramattan news Agency.

(SZ of 16.6.2006)

Copyright belongs to the authors and originators. Posted at http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000123.html

Translation copyright 2006 by Ami Isseroff and ZioNation

Postscripts (to June 29)
Haaretz "debunks" the above story with the story below. However, Suddeutche Zeitung had interviewed the photographer and asked for his version. He did not explain any of these points it seems. SZ claims the girl was not just dry, but in street clothes. As described below, Huda is wearing sweatpants, not bathing attire. Most glaring is the omission of the mysterious man with the machine gun, raising the question of whether Ha'aretz really saw the whole film or a carefully edited version. Since this story appeared, we haven't heard anything more about Palestinians threatening to sue Sueddeutche Zeitung for some reason, despite the threat. These two articles are just parts of a puzzle in which the entire story is not known.

The story is further confused by a faulty and controversial Human Rights Watch investigation. One careful analysis of the HRW report on the Gaza Beach incident points to a series of flaws in the HRW study and conclusions. The finding of an IDF shell fragment 250 M. from the blast is taken as evidence implicating the IDF, but in fact it confirms the IDF thesis that the closest IDF shell fell far from the family. The report states that other than shells, only mines can produce upper body injuries of the type found, but Hamas explosive belts are designed to cause upper body injuries and do so. If the blast had been caused by a shell, the damage should have been much greater. These conclusions are backed by photographic evidence and links. You owe it to yourself to see this analysis.


The big question, is not whether the film was faked, but how the explosion happened. Israel has had hundreds of victims of intentional terror attacks, none of whom were made into media heros the way that Huda Ghalia was.


The Israeli shelling was of course an attempt to stop launchings of Qassam rockets that have gone on for months. The focus on this one incident was meant to take away attention from the real problem, which is that residents of Sderot have been suffering through no fault of their own.

Ami Isseroff

The harshest images were edited for TV
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/730779.html
By Avi Issacharoff


GAZA - When Zakaria Abu Arabid, a journalist with the Ramatan news agency, arrived at Al-Awda Hospital in Gaza's Jabalya refugee camp two weeks ago on Friday to photograph casualties of an incident in the Beit Lahia area, a staff member told him that Israel had shelled the Lahia beach. He headed to the spot.

Two weeks later, Abu Arabid and Haaretz view the now-famous tape of Huda Ghalia as she runs along the beach and finds the body of her father. The most gruesome images, it turns out, were censored for television.

The camera starts rolling during the trip. A narrow road, then a left turn onto a dirt road. On the horizon, the sea and then growing awareness of the horrific sights. When Abu Arabid, 36, from Beit Hanun, gets out of the jeep the camera shows an ambulance and people standing around.

The picture zooms in on a pile of bodies, uncovered and blasted apart. The people urge on Abu Arabid with calls of, "Shoot it, shoot it." The injured are loaded onto stretchers, including a girl without an arm. A Palestinian man carried the remains of the body of a young girl and runs toward the ambulance. An earsplitting siren wails in the background.

Abu Arabid's camera shoots the removal of the dead and wounded, near where the three bodies had lain earlier. He focuses on a young girl with black hair wearing sweatpants: Huda, who takes a few steps and then starts running while calling for her father.

She throws herself on the ground and the camera shows the body of her father. She cries out for him and hits herself. The camera pans to a pot filled with food and then returns to Huda. A young man tell her her father is okay although he knows the man is already dead. Huda, in wet clothing, sand stuck to her pants, pleads with the paramedics: "Take him to the hospital, he's alive."

Abu Arabid photographs the body parts being collected into bags, plastic beach toys strewn on the sand, an Israeli Navy ship off the coast.

"No one can remain indifferent to the pictures, the pain of the children," Abu Arabid says. "I looked at the tape afterward and broke into tears, how can one not?"

The German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung cast doubt on the authenticity of the picture and made its own determinations without checking the facts: Why were bodies covered with sheets?, it asked - although they were not. Why were Huda's clothes dry? - although they were actually wet. Mohammed Salman, Abu Arabid's boss, is considering a suit against the German paper.

"If a foreign photographer had taken the pictures, no one would have had doubts. Because we are Palestinian journalists they immediately claimed we staged it," Salman said, adding, "How can one stage such horror?"

Original content is Copyright by the author 2006. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000123.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 11 Comments

When will the world publish items AFTER knowing the facts or be willing to correct their original misstatements?

I applaud the German newspaper and am still upset with CNN, BBC and other media.

Inge Malka Johnson, Sunday, June 25th


Israel needs some really good PR people - the Palestinians have developed the art of marketing their cause - why has Israel failed to do so? Are we too "stiff-necked" to resort to doing the same ? I am not without sympathy for the Palestinian cause and the two state solution but Israel and Jews have to work very hard to overcome the antipathy particularly of the left towards Israel. Perhaps it is that Jews are only tolerated as victims - andIsraelis have cast Jews in a "non-traditional" role

juliet milkens, Sunday, June 25th


I am not a Jew , but I am constantly amazed at the one sided, inaccurate news reports that have always been circulated about Israel. It is a good example of bad propaganda, which is meant to decieve and brainwash. A classic case of good against evil.

Ray, Friday, June 23rd


For years Yassir Arafat was feated , and enriched by Western Countries , who knew full well the kind of perverted ,robbing, murdering monster he really was.
He like every "palestinian" leader, was a lying bastard who died from the complication of AIDS. A dirty fitting end to a dirty little man.

peter sammut, Thursday, June 22nd


:( I am very tired that Israel has continuosly to demonstrade it's innocent why all the world still believe to this arrogant, false, not truly persons? The IDF is not the Franceschiello army (it's italian slang that is used for a very stupid army) Kadimah ISRAEL!!!!!! SHALOM AND LOVE

FRANCA SPIZZICHINO

Franca Spizzichino, Thursday, June 22nd


What is Israel doing to prepare for the next Pollywood incident? If Israel is going to be effective in the media war an effort must be put into this area that will counter the expensive and well thought out Palestinian propaganda campaign.

LouA, Thursday, June 22nd


Hi,
It is a good question - why Israel would agree to an international inquiry. The US can fend off criticism about Abu Ghraib or Haditha in its own way for example. However, nobody really believes them.

At best we tolerate the US position or look the other way very carefully. If we are not asking to be believed, there is no point in the whole exercise. We can say "It is war, people got killed, this is what we found, but you can acccept or reject it -- not our problem. Stop the Qassams and we stop the shelling. "

If we want to be believed in our claim that we didn't do it, then we would have to allow an international inquiry.

Ami I.

Moderator, Tuesday, June 20th


Why would Israel agree to an international inquiry? What other sovereign state would agree to one?
However, I, as an Israeli, am ready for such an investigation, but only if together with it the same people investigate the Jenin "massacre", the billions given to PA which people never got, and terrorist acts by terrorists from the PA against the Geneva Convention.

TacticalSniper, Monday, June 19th


On my site you will find the testimony of the Israeli surgeon who operated on one of the Gaza victims: I removed hamas shell fragmenst.

Judith Apter Klinghoffer, Monday, June 19th


Hi Joy,
I heard Garlasco interviewed on Israeli radio. He sounded a lot more reasonable than you might think and a lot more professional.

He didn't mouthe slogans. He said he was going to consider Israeli evidence as well.

Of course, Shylock never stood a chance in court, did he?

A lot depends on whether or not - and to what extent - Israel is ready to open itself to an international inquiry. If we don't, then we really can't prove anything except to ourselves. If you were not a Zionist, would you believe the IDF or HRW??

If we do allow an inquiry, then we might be judged by a Kangaroo court.

Ami Isseroff

Ami Isseroff, Monday, June 19th


One of the most disturbing aspects of the whole Gaza beach saga is the credibility of the credentials of the so-called Human Rights Watch "expert" who was prepared to take on the IDF and state categorically that it was an Israeli device or bomb that killed the victims.
Could it be that the military "expert" Marc Garlasco hailed by Human Rights Watch as the definitive spokesman on issues relating to bomb or explosion damage and military matters is the same Marc Garlasco who is said by a former colleague to have "had no scientific training required to do bomb damage assessment", and who "did a bunk" when the Iraq war began?
Is this the same man who stood alongside IDF military experts this week and said he was "certain" the explosion which killed a Palestinian family on the beach, leaving a young child running around screaming, was caused by an Israeli 155MM round, contrary to all the evidence the IDF produced. A man with no military experience, no training in assessment, and a man with a proven track record of exaggerating and doctoring the "facts" of his investigations relating to Israel as he did in Rafah, is now the best the Human Rights Watch Organisation can produce to fulfil their goal of Israel bashing.

There are a number of things that really bother me about the reporting and apparent misreporting of this incident, and which give cause for investigation.
How was a TV photographer conveniently on hand, virtually before the incident. Why didn't he drop his camera and run to comfort the distraught little girl if she was genuine, rather than tell us that at the age of 10 she asked to be recorded!!!
Why was the beach empty as she ran round shouting and crying distressingly. Wouldn't someone have come to her aid or come to help the victims. WOULDN'T THE MOST NATURAL THING IN THE WORLD BE TO GATHER HER UP IN YOUR ARMS AND COMFORT HER?
Why was the evidence cleared so quickly?
This story is nearly as good as the truth behind Who killed Mohammed Al Dura, a story still widely used by anti Israel factions despite being discredited, and the doctored pictures of the before and after bulldozers that are said to have been involved in the unfortunate accidental death of Rachel Corrie
It would appear that when it comes to demonising Israel, the truth comes a poor second to the sensationalising of a story.
There is a long track record of pictures being made to fit the story. The young Lebanese child crying next to a "cruel" Israeli soldier when the truth was that she was at the end of a queue when the sweets being given out ran out, the Muslim woman lying on the ground for photographers only to get up after the photos were taken, the "dead" body falling off a stretcher in Jenin, getting up and getting back on!! The "massacre" of Jenin where it turned out 59 people died, 38 of them armed combatants, and, last but not least, the picture of a Palestinian being beaten up by an Israeli soldier that turned out to be a Jewish American student who had been beaten up by Arabs being protected by the soldier
At the very least there is room for doubt regarding the Gaza beach story, and at best the Israeli detailed analysis of timing and likelihood of the cause are far more credible than a biased and unqualified HRW "expert".
It is said of Marc Garlasco in his online CV he has often been on National Public Radio. That doesn't surprise me as without doubt NPR has one of the most anti Israel agendas of any broadcasting agency.
I need more than the word of an inexperienced so-called expert to make me believe the HRW version, and this throws all HRW investigations in the area into doubt if their key personnel are discredited.

Joy Wolfe, Monday, June 19th


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