Wednesday, 30 August 2006

Evidence for the ICRC

Warning - Bandwidth Heavy

From The Australian :
THE International Committee of the Red Cross has rebuked Foreign Minister Alexander Downer for relying on an unverified internet blog to claim an Israeli missile strike on one of its ambulances in southern Lebanon was a hoax.

A spokeswoman for the ICRC in Geneva said yesterday there was no evidence to support Mr Downer's assertion that the international media had been duped in reporting that Israel had deliberately targeted the ambulance.
Ambulance driver Qassem Shalim was closing the doors of the ambulance when the vehicle was hit. "I am sure the missile was fired from a drone. The blue light was flashing on our roof, the red cross was clear and there was a light on the Lebanese Red Cross flag above me. Everything I said happened did happen," he told The Australian in Beirut.

But yesterday, Mr Downer's spokesman, Tony Parkinson, said the minister was standing by his comments. "Those (website) pictures do not show an ambulance that has been struck by a missile nor do they sustain the argument the ambulance was struck by a missile."

Federal Opposition foreign affairs spokesman, Kevin Rudd, said Mr Downer needed to come clean on his sources.

OK, here is the ambulance in question, immediately after the "missile strike".

Note the dished top, almost as if the ambulance had rolled over. Note the aeriel, bent towards the entry site, almost as if the ambulance had rolled over. Note the rust around the holes, almost as if an accident had happened months before the "missile strike". Note the hole in the roof coincidentally corresponds to the ventilator position in the 2 other ambulances of the same type visible in the picture.

Here's the ambulance from another angle, either before or after it had been moved.

A car hit by a small missile looks like, well, one of these:

This is what a 2000lb bomb does.

I think we can all agree that it wasn't one of those?

OK, so maybe it was one of the smallest missiles in the Israeli inventory, a weapon of 100 lbs weight, that travels at speeds of about 300 m/sec. The Hellfire.

Let's look at the effects of a similar, smaller missile, not on an unarmoured ambulance, but on a fully loaded Main Battle Tank, one with inches of armour plate.

And this is a sales video for the smallest of the Isreali air-launched guided weapons, the Spike. Note the effect on the Tank targets.

Here's what the Time Magazine reported:
But on Sunday night, the emblem of the Red Cross was not enough to deter an Israeli helicopter gunship from firing missiles into a pair of ambulances loading casualties in the village of Qana" ... "As Shaalan closed the back of the ambulance, however, a missile punched through the roof of the vehicle and exploded inside. "There was a boom, a big fire and I was thrown backwards. I thought I was dead," Shaalan recalls. ..."Then a second missile struck the other ambulance." ..."The father's leg was severed by the exploding missile." ... "There was no immediate comment from the Israeli authorities on why a helicopter gunship had attacked a clearly marked Red Cross ambulance."

And the Guardian :
The ambulance headlamps were on, the blue light overhead was flashing, and another light illuminated the Red Cross flag when the first Israeli missile hit, shearing off the right leg of the man on the stretcher inside. As he lay screaming beneath fire and smoke, patients and ambulance workers scrambled for safety, crawling over glass in the dark. Then another missile hit the second ambulance. Even in a war which has turned the roads of south Lebanon into killing zones, Israel's rocket strike on two clearly marked Red Cross ambulances on Sunday night set a deadly new milestone. ... Two ambulances were entirely destroyed, their roofs pierced by missiles. ... One of the members of the three-man crew from Tibnin radioed for help when another missile plunged through the roof. ...He was adamant that the ambulances, with their Red Cross insignia on the roof, were clearly visible from the air. "I don't think there can be a mistake in two bombings of two ambulances," he said.

Now this from the ABC, the goalposts are being moved:
ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, I've had a look and some of my staff have had a look at the photographs of an ambulance which, well originally it was alleged it had been hit with a missile, and obviously if an ambulance had been hit with a missile it would have been blown to bits.

TONY EASTLEY: So you definitely think it was a hoax?

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well it certainly wasn't true that it was hit with a missile. The ambulance would have been decimated if it had been hit with a missile. So, in that sense the claim that it was hit with a missile was wrong.

Now, I notice that new claims are being made about well maybe there was a drone and something was shot out of a drone. Maybe it wasn't a missile. Well, that's a different argument of course.

But, look, my broader point is this, without sort of getting bogged down what we interpret from the photographs, but that's my interpretation, but I think my broader point is that the way that, it's not so much the Australian media, the international media covered the war in southern Lebanon was very distinctly anti-Israeli, in my view. I thought it was quite biased.

I think in Australia perhaps the coverage was a bit more balanced, but it was very anti-Israeli, and on one occasion a Reuters reporter had to be sacked for doctoring photographs.

TONY EASTLEY: But if I can take you back to the Red Cross vehicle, your interpretation is that it was a hoax, yet the Red Cross, the Red Cross official in Lebanon is saying it did happen.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, I mean, I've looked at the photograph as it was portrayed to me at the time, and I must admit I was very surprised at the way the television coverage in particular reported it, international television coverage reported it.

It was reported at the time that a missile had struck this, had been a… deliberately struck this ambulance, and I looked at the photographs and I can't see that a missile could have possibly hit an ambulance, that particular ambulance, and for the Israelis to be deliberately targeting an ambulance with a missile, and then I see the ambulance is not decimated and people survived, it seemed to me that that was a very curious interpretation of a missile...

TONY EASTLEY: It may have been like some, much of the ordinance, it didn't actually explode when it pierced the vehicle. So you still stand by what you said?


OK, there's this from Infinitives Unsplit :
Amongst the many other thoughts that crossed my mind is this:
Missile strikes are pretty conclusive events. In fact, at a conservative estimate and assuming that our helicopter-launched missile has mass of 10kg (which is on the low side) and was travelling at, say, 500 mph (which is ~250m/s and also on the low side), the missile would have had kinetic energy of around 600kJ. This is transferred to the target when it strikes, in a fairly direct and unprepossessing manner.

As a quick quiz, how fast would a car weighing 1 tonne (that's a small/medium UK sized car such as Ford Focus with just the driver in it) have to be going to have 600kJ in kinetic energy?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Ok, I'll tell you. About 50 mph. So even before the warhead detonates, being hit by a missile of that size and at that speed has the same crushing effect on the target as being hit by a car full on at 50mph, except from above, where you don't have all the crumble zones to absorb the impact.

In fact, a Hellfire is about twice the weight, and moves a lot faster.

The Canonical Debunking was done some time ago over at Zombietme.

Meanwhile, have a look at this Reuters "armoured jeep", struck by either a direct hit from a deliberately aimed Israeli missile, or some shrapnel, or possibly a rock dropped from a bridge,

From the Associated Press :
Two missiles fired by Israeli aircraft early Sunday morning hit an armored car belonging to the Reuters news agency and wounded a television cameraman inside, Palestinian witnesses said.

More "instant rust".

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