Media Blog

Human Rights Watch Was Wrong

When seven Palestinians died in an explosion on a Gaza beach, Human Rights Watch was front and center in the press telling us it was an errant Israeli shell that caused the deaths (h/t Adloyada):

… the army’s account quickly came in for criticism, led by a former Pentagon battlefield analyst, Marc Garlasco, investigating for Human Rights Watch. “You have the crater size, the shrapnel, the types of injuries, their location on the bodies. That all points to a shell dropping from the sky, not explosives under the sand,” he said. “I’ve been to hospital and seen the injuries. The doctors say they are primarily to the head and torso. That is consistent with a shell exploding above the ground, not a mine under it.”

Now, it is left to the Jerusalem Post to report that Garlasco, by his own admission, rushed to judgment:

On Monday, Maj.-Gen. Meir Klifi – head of the IDF inquiry commission that cleared the IDF of responsibility for the blast – met with Marc Garlasco, a military expert from the HRW who had last week claimed that the blast was caused by an IDF artillery shell. Following the three-hour meeting, described by both sides as cordial and pleasant, Garlasco praised the IDF’s professional investigation into the blast, which he said was most likely caused by unexploded Israeli ordnance left laying on the beach, a possibility also raised by Klifi and his team.
“We came to an agreement with General Klifi that the most likely cause [of the blast] was unexploded Israeli ordinance,” Garlasco told The Jerusalem Post following the meeting. While Klifi’s team did a “competent job” to rule out the possibility that the blast was caused by artillery fire, there were still, Garlasco said, a number of pieces of evidence that the IDF commission did not take into consideration.

Naturally, this means that Garlasco and HRW are still demanding an “independent inquiry” into the explosion. Meryl Yourish has a better idea:

… how about looking the truth in the eyes for a few seconds? Gaza was vacated by IDF in the hope that, as a model of a newly hatched independent Palestinian society it will be also a model of the neighborhood relationships and peaceful co-existence of the two states.
Unfortunately, our neighbors are intent on proving the opposite, and instead of peaceful co-existence we have a war on our hands. And if anyone has a hope that the Gaza beach tragedy is the last of its kind, that anyone is either seriously deluded or trying to delude.
Instead of wasting UN time and money on this investigation, Koffi Anan will do more good trying to explain this to our Gazan neighbors and to their supporters. No sham ceasefire will be enough, and while the steady rain of Qassams, border attacks and other attempts to kill more Jooz continue, the war will continue. And the tragic stories of the kind we are discussing here will happen again and again.

I’m sure HRW will be calling for an “independent inquiry” into those Qassam rocket strikes any day now.
In the meantime, who will report Garlasco’s statements? The only thing in today’s papers about beaches is a New York Times article about how they are the next victims of global warming.

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