HRW - The ‘Hoax’ That Wasn’t: The July 23 Qana Ambulance Attack
During the Israel-Hezbollah war, Israel was accused by Human Rights Watch and numerous local and international media outlets of attacking two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances in Qana on July 23, 2006. Following these accusations, some websites claimed that the attack on the ambulances ‘never happened’ and was a Hezbollah-orchestrated ‘hoax,’ a charge picked up by conservative commentators such as Oliver North. These claims attracted renewed attention when the Australian foreign minister stated that ‘it is beyond serious dispute that this episode has all the makings of a hoax.’Full report here.
In response, Human Rights Watch researchers carried out a more in-depth investigation of the Qana ambulance attacks. Our investigation involved detailed interviews with four of the six ambulance staff and the three wounded people in the ambulance, on-site visits to the Tibnine and Tyre Red Cross offices from which the ambulances originated to review their records and meet with supervisors, an examination of the ambulances that were struck, an on-site visit to the Qana site where the attack took place, and interviews with others such as international officials with the International Committee of the Red Cross who were involved in responding to the attack on the night it happened.
On the basis of this investigation, we conclude that the attack on the ambulances was not a hoax: Israeli forces attacked two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances that night in Qana, almost certainly with missiles fired from an Israeli drone flying overhead. The physical and testimonial evidence collected by Human Rights Watch disproves the allegations of a ‘hoax,’ made by persons who never visited Lebanon and had no opportunity to assess the evidence first-hand. Those claiming a hoax relied on faulty conjectures based on a limited number of photographs of one of the ambulances.