The initial IDF report will conclude tentatively that the cause of the Gaza explosion was a Hamas bomb planted on the beach in order to deter Israel Navy commandos:
Some of the findings have already been reported: that five of the shells definitely landed some
250 meters from the beach, and that the explosion occurred at least eight minutes after the missing sixth shell was fired. However, this evidence has now been bolstered by three new findings:
* The shrapnel. Three people wounded in the blast are now hospitalized in Israel. Shrapnel was apparently removed from their bodies, and this is likely to reinforce the conclusion that the explosion was caused by a bomb
rather than a shell.
* The crater. Based on photographs, the crater left on the beach by the blast seems to have been made by an explosion from below (a mine), not a hit from above (a shell).
* Intelligence. Israel has amassed considerable information indicating that over the past few weeks, ever since Israeli commandos infiltrated Gaza and killed a rocket-launching cell, Hamas has been systematically mining the northern Gaza beach in an attempt to keep Israeli commandos from landing there again.
The main hole in the army’s evidence is the missing sixth shell actually, the first to be fired whose landing site has not been determined. From an examination of the cannon, the army is convinced that the shell could not have fallen on the beach, almost half a kilometer from its intended target. But there is no firm proof of this, only an educated guess.
We’ll see. This could be a study not only of how different propaganda machines are fighting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also how the blogosphere is doing it.
UPDATE: The Palestinians have retained an expert who sharply disputes the Israeli story, arguing that the wounds sustained by the victims could not have been caused by a mine. There is also a claim that a fragment of a shell was found on the beach. We know little about the expert, except that he used to work at the Department of Defense, and I confess to being a little skeptical about finding a shell fragment. Evidence concerning the wounds, however, could be objectively considered.
UPDATE TWO: The expert is Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch. Doing a few minutes of research on Garlasco reveals that he is a serious analyst, whose conclusions need to be seriously dealt with. It is good to see that HRW, whose credibility in my view was injured by its very biased report on Jenin, has hired someone with Gerlasco’s credentials. If HRW comes up with an interim report (which Garlasco no doubt will write), and the IDF releases its report, then we can compare and contrast. I will update the story as it proceeds in new posts.