Israel launched reprisal attacks on Gaza within hours of the Eilat-area attacks on Thursday 18 August.
Not too long afterwards, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu went on Israeli television and told his country and the world that the PRC, a small resistance group in Gaza, was responsible — and that Popular Resistance Committee [PRC] leaders [who Netanyahu said had ordered the attack] were “no longer among the living”. Further Israeli attacks killed more PRC leaders in continuing attacks on Thursday night, and civilians were also killed, including several children.
The Israeli attacks are continuing, as is retaliatory firing of projectiles from Gaza onto surrounding Israeli communities.
On Saturday morning, the IDF Spokesperson, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich [@AvitalLeibovich] sent out a Tweet with a link to a photo that she described this way: “Here is what one of the terrorist that killed Israelis on Thursday, carried upon his body: http://t.co/Wcdg0LS”
The link led to this photo:
The IDF photo is posted on a Flickr site. [note – Flickr takes the info automatically from the original photos – unless, of course, they are copied, and the coding is then changed…]
The caption material read:
Explosives from the 18/8/11 Multi-Pronged Terror Attack
August 19, 2011
“Explosive materials and weapons found on the bodies of the terrorists who carried out a multi-pronged terror attack that targeted Israeli civilians on August 18, 2011. The terror attack left eight people dead and about 40 injured.
“In a premeditated attack, terrorists targeted Israeli civilians, who were on their way to Eilat, a popular tourist destination for summer vacations. All of the incidents took place near the Israel-Egypt border. According to Israeli intelligence, the terrorists originated from Gaza”.
Then, I happened to notice the information written to the right side of the photo.
It read [at least it did, this morning]:
By Israel Defense Forces
This photo was taken, on January 27, 2008 using a Nikon D700.
When I went back to Twitter, I noticed that @AvitalLeibovich had Tweeted to @MargieInTelAviv that the explosives found on body in Eilat attack are from Gaza: same type used during CastLead Op.
The IDF’s Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in Gaza was conducted from 27 December 2008 until 18 January 2009…
I then Tweeted to @AvitalLeibovich:
“Wait. @AvitalLeibovich, why does note on this page re 18 Aug attack say ‘This photo was taken on January 27, 2008 using a Nikon D700’??”
“@Marianhouk The photo was taken yesterday as was the briefing i gave. Approx. 10 journalists attended the briefing”.
Then, she retweeted something sent out by the generic @IDFSpokesperson Twitter account. which showed a photo of her standing in front of a table containing some similiar if not identical materials, at the briefing for journalists she mentioned.
Here is that photo:
The Tweet that announced this photo reads:
#Photo: @AvitalLeibovich displays detonated explosives found on #terrorists from ystrdy’s attack http://ow.ly/67vVk #IsraelUnderFire #IDF
Another Tweeter took issue with the assertion that “detonated explosives” were displayed:
No, they are NOT “detonated” !! RT @IDFSpokesperson: #Photo: @AvitalLeibovich displays detonated explosives fo… (cont) http://t.co/7xBN3dj
He is right. The IDF announced that sappers had detonated the explosives on the site of the attacks, 20 km north of Eilat.
However, the first photo above, of just the stuff, shows unexploded material, and a detonator, in addition to a rifle and bullet cartridges etc. While the photo of Avital Leibovich briefing shows no unexploded material [I guess that would improve safety at the briefing…]
He complained again:
@AvitalLeibovich Yes, agreed–but they aren’t “detonated” (=already blown up) explosives; & why didn’t caption describe other weapons?
Then, in response to @CitizenWald’s request, Avital Leibovic then explains exactly what is in the photo:
@CitizenWald It’s simple:in the picture you can see a flack jacket with 4 grenades,a stabbing knife,explosive belt;this was on the ter. body
But, my point is that, of course, just because Avital Leibovich gave a briefing to journalists on 19 August, with similar material piled on the table in front of her, does not exclude or rule out the possibility that the IDF took a picture of the very same or similar stuff [as if it were just a prop] on 27 January 2008 — as the information on the page initially read.
I did mention this in a Tweet:
Surely, @IDFSpokesperson, @AvitalLeibovich, u can see page shows AL w/ stuff on Fri, but doesn’t prove IDF didn’t photo same stuff Jan 2008
The head of the IDF New Media Desk, @SachaDratwa, had retweeted Avital Leibovich’s link to the first photo [which was originally marked as taken on January 27, 2008]. A while later, he responded to me [in French]:
@Marianhouk C’est une erreur sur Flickr, les photos ont été prise hier. [Translation: “It’s a mistake on Flikr, the photos were taken yesterday”].
I actually first thought that it was some kind of mistake, at first — some mistake in not filling out the template on the Flikr page or something — and I even Tweeted that it needed correction.
First, the Flikr page http://www.flickr.com/photos/idfonline/6061579626/in/photostream/ was changed — and it was “corrected” to read as follows:
AFTER: This photo was taken on August 19, 2011 using a Nikon D700. 338 views
Whereas BEFORE, it read: This photo was taken on January 27, 2008 using a Nikon D700. 117 views
Then, as I looked around on Flikr and on the IDF Spokespersons’ web pages, I saw that the first picture was included in not just one, but two — yes, two — Flikr “sets”:
(1) one set was this: Terror in the South, 18.08.2011-(Set: 12), but
(2) the other set was from the archives, on a page labelled photos taken on January 27, 2008, and posted on this page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/idfonline/archives/date-taken/2008/01/27/.
They couldn’t have just mistakenly created this page, yesterday or today, and then mistakenly put the first photo above on that page.
No, it wasn’t just a mistake on Flikr — and it does indeed seem that the first photo was indeed in the archives, and had apparently indeed been taken on the date indicated.
Soon enough, within a couple of hours, that page was then deleted. What remains is this:
Israel Defense Forces’ photostream
Archives / Taken in / 2008 / January / 27th (0 items)
There’s nothing available to you in this view of Israel Defense Forces’ archive.
This is probably because:
•Israel Defense Forces didn’t take any photos or video on 27th January 2008,
•The dates have been changed,
•Content has been deleted, or,
•You clicked on a ‘posted on’ date link from something private that you can only see because it is in the pool of a group that you belong to. (Private things don’t show up in people’s archives, except when you’re looking at your own.)
Finally, a new photo was added to the IDF photostreams on Flikr, which showed the material that was on the table during Friday’s briefing [it looks newer, cleaner, and there is no explosive material, or for that matter no rifle]:
Then, to complete our understanding of the real picture, I came upon this from Real News Network, an interview with Lt Col Avital Leibovich by Lia Tarachansky for Real News Network. The interview was clearly recorded just after Avital’s briefing on Friday.
It was remarked upon by numerous other Tweeters and bloggers.
Amazing: @AvitalLeibovich of @IDFSpokesperson goes on record saying no evidence for Gaza connection to Eilat attacks | http://t.co/g5O7bpv |
Didi Remez’s link leads to this post: “Israeli army hasn’t the faintest idea who launched the Eilat attacks” — which is rather more polite than some others wrote. It was written by Paul Woodward on August 20, 2011 and published here, and it contains a partial transcript of the interview itself [clearly, Avital was already tired by the time the interview was recorded…]
Tarachansky: On what are you basing your conclusion that this group [the Popular Resistance Committees] is responsible for the terror attacks?
IDF Spokesperson: We did not say that this group was responsible for the terror attack. We based this on intelligence information as well as some facts that [we] actually presented an hour ago to some wires and journalists. Some of the findings that were from the bodies of the terrorists, and they are using for example Kalashnikov bullets and Kalashnikov rifles are very common in Gaza –
Paul Woodward then commented: “So, the IDF says it ‘knows’ the gunmen came from Gaza because they were using Kalashnikovs … The Kalashnikov is the most widely available weapon on the planet. According to Jane’s Infantry Weapons 2009/2010 this rifle is in use in over 70 countries”…
And, by Saturday evening, other Tweeters, such as @HybridStates, were exploring the apparent contradictions between the Israeli Prime Minister’s accusations (conviction and sentencing as well) of the PRC, while the IDF takes the position that Hamas is ultimately responsible…
UPDATE: Just to put this in a bit of context, see Sami Kishawi’s blog post today questioning other IDF photo evidence here and one other post Kishawi links to, Ibn Kafka’s blog post on 2 June 2010, with evidence attributed to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, here.
And now, thanks to the crikey.com.au link kindly supplied by nikkor1, below, there are also these — with the caution that this is not an exhaustive list: here and here, as well as here, and here.
On top of that, I can also add one more, from my own personal knowledge [in which Ali Abunimah notes “Thanks to Marian Houk (http://twitter.com/MarianHouk ), I have learned that the Israeli army originally uploaded a video (below) in which the same naval officer in the video above has an innocuous conversation with a ship in which the only reply from the ship is ‘Negative, Negative, our destination is Gaza’. There is no ‘anti-Semitism’ or anything that paints the Flotilla passengers as raving bigots”…] : here…
OBSERVATION: False evidence, and falsifying evidence, is never convincing. Israel has cause for complaint about indiscriminate firing of rockets, mortars and missiles from Gaza onto surrounding Israeli civilian areas. But when and how Israel orders reprisals gives rise to real and legitimate questions. The questioning of criticism of over-eager, fake, sloppy or falsified evidence does not only not answer the real and legitimate questions — it is just propaganda. And, this raises even more real and legitimate questions about Israel’s policy. A professional military leaves propaganda to others, nowadays.