After an Israeli airstrike hit a house in Qana, Lebanon Sunday, killing 56 Lebanese civilians, including 38 children, Israeli military spokespeople attempted to excuse their targeting of civilians by saying that the Lebanese resistance group, Hezbollah, had fired rockets from that location.  It didn’t take much investigation to prove that there were no rockets fired from Qana, lending credence to the suspicion among many Lebanese that Israeli forces may have been deliberately targeting civilians.

The strike that destroyed the building was a precision-guided bomb dropped from the air, the same kind of bomb that destroyed a UN position in Khiyam last week, killing four UN observers. Writing on an olive green fragment of the munition which appeared to have caused the explosion read: GUIDED BOMB BSU 37/B.

The Israeli military has quietly withdrawn their claim that there were rockets fired from that position, a common tactic that has been used on hundreds of occasions in attacks on Palestinians and internationals: in many cases in the past, the military has issued statements immediately following an incident such as this one, that either they are not responsible, or that the people they fired upon were ‘militants’.  The world media then repeats the Israeli claim, and when evidence emerges proving their claim false, they quietly withdraw it, and the withdrawal doesn’t make the media.  In this way, Israeli forces have killed nearly 5,000 Palestinians in the last 5 years, 80% of whom, according to human rights groups, are civilians, with very little international media coverage of the killings.  Nearly 1,000 of those killed in the last five years in Palestine have been children.

In the case of the Qana attack on Sunday, July 31st, the Israeli military spokesman initially stated, "There was firing coming from there before the air strike. We don’t know what the people were doing in the basement. It is possible they were being used as shields or being used cynically to further Hezbollah’s propaganda purposes.  We apologise. We couldn’t be more sorry about the loss of civilian life."

But now, just two days later, the military has been forced to retract that statement that the civilians were "being used as shields" by Hezbollah, as investigations have made exceedingly clear that there were no Hezbollah fighters anywhere near the home that was bombed.  There was no ammunition, no guns, no rockets, nothing but families who were huddled together trying to hide from the ongoing Israeli airstrikes.

"They had to have known there were children in that house," said Mohsen Hachem, a neighbor, to a reporter with the British Guardian newspaper, while staring at the rubble that used to be a home, on Sunday afternoon.  "The drones [Israeli unmanned planes] are always overhead, and those children – there were more than 30 – would play outside all day."

Ten years ago, in remarkably similar circumstances, in the same small Lebanese town (Qana), Israeli artillery shelled a well-marked United Nations (UN) compound multiple times, killing 106 civilians who had sought shelter there.  The bombardment was part of the Israeli operation codenamed ‘Grapes of Wrath’, aimed (then, as now) at punishing the Lebanese population for cross-border attacks by Hezbollah.

At that time, Israel apologised and said it had been an accident caused by old maps and poor calculations. Backed by the US, Israel blamed mainly Hezbollah for using civilians as human shields. But a UN report noted many inconsistencies in the Israeli account and concluded that the attack appeared to be deliberate.

*this article was sourced from Ma’an News, the Guardian, and local sources