Can you give an example of a clear act of terrorism?

This is a report about the Qana Massacre which took place on April 18 1996. It was unquestionably a terrorist act, carried out by a state that has proved itself in the process to be a bare faced liar. What is really concerning however, is the support that this liar got. Please read on....

Source: Palestine Times Date: June 1997 Title: Robert Fisk: Reporting the Truth and Exposing Lies


Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk spoke to a capacity crowd of 350 in Ottawa, Canada last month on the topic "Threats, Lies and Videotape: Reporting the Middle East." His lecture could have alternatively been titled: "Honesty and Moral Integrity: Reporting the Middle East." With a penetrating oratory style and flawless English diction, he spoke for one hour and 45 minutes drawing upon his 30 years as a professional journalist, 21 of which have been spent reporting from the Middle East and North Africa.

And finally onto Qana. Robert Fisk was the first journalist into the UN compound of the Fijian battalion after it was hit by proximity shells during the height of Israel's bombardment of southern Lebanon last year. In a moving and graphic description which brought many in the audience to tears, he related the scene as he entered the camp. "Blood ran in streams from the gates of the United Nations' compound in which those poor people had taken refuge. They were the gates of hell. As I walked inside, I saw a young girl holding in her arms the body of a middle-aged man, rocking the corpse from side to side and weeping and crying over and over 'my father, my father.' There were babies without heads, women without arms. I will never forget what I saw. I reported it all in my paper.

He then proceeded to tell the entire story of the Qana massacre. The fact that he was speaking on the 18 April, exactly one-year after the Israeli attack, made his presentation all the more poignant. "For us reporters at the time -- and the United Nations -- the truth or otherwise of Israel's explanation -- that it never intended to hit the UN base and its protected Muslim civilians -- rested on its denial that it could not see where its shells were falling. But the survivors, UN soldiers and refugee alike, all told of seeing a pilotless Israeli photo- reconnaissance aircraft over the camp during the massacre. And if this was true, then the implication was obvious: the Israelis knew all to well what they were doing."

After extensive interviews with refugees and UN soldiers, Fisk heard repeated rumours that a UN soldier at a nearby base had coincidentally videotaped the bombing of Qana including the pilotless Israeli photo-reconnaissance aircraft. His search for the mysterious film was in vain. He was told that UN personnel were under strict orders not to discuss its existence with anyone. It was two days after the mass funeral for the massacre victims of Qana that Robert Fisk's telephone rang in his Beirut apartment. An anonymous voice gave him a map reference and added: "1300 hours." With the audience listening intently as he recounted the story, Fisk's moving description, which perhaps was the highlight of the evening, deserves to be quoted verbatim.

The map reference was a cross-roads outside Qana. I have never driven so fast to southern Lebanon. And at 1300 hours, I saw in the rear-view mirror a UN jeep pull up behind me. A UN soldier in battledress and blue beret walked up to me, shook hands and said: 'I copied the tape before the UN took it. The plane is there. I have made a personal decision. I have two young children,' he said, 'the same age as the ones I carried dead in my own arms at Qana. This is for them.' And from his battledress blouse he pulled a video-cassette and threw it on the passenger seat of my car. It was, I think in retrospect, the most dramatic individual personal act I have ever seen a soldier take. The mighty powers may try to cover up but the little men can still sometimes win.

The unedited raw film clearly shows the UN base in Qana under bombardment with the Israeli reconnaissance drone flying over head. Fisk talked the audience through the screening pointing out the arc and direction of the in-coming artillery shells. An Israeli helicopter is also visible over Qana at the time of the attack, dropping phosphorous flares to avoid heat-seeking missiles. Qana is covered in smoke as the artillery shells rain down from the sky. At one point flames are clearly visible in the UN base. Fisk announces pointing to the screen, "There is the conference room on fire. There are about 50 people burning to death inside that room at the moment. This smoke," pointing to a nearby section of the screen, "is basically from the cremation of these people as the walls catch fire." The audience sits in stoned-silence like a jury in a courtroom, as Fisk presents his evidence with the meticulous precision and poise of a prosecuting lawyer who convincingly demolishes the defence team's main argument. After the video was turned off he returned to the podium and ended his talk with the following two sentences. "But here, I think, the work of journalism must end -- and the facts of history take over. For your kindness this evening, Ladies and Gentlemen, and for your kindness in inviting me to Ottawa to speak to you, I thank you very much." A thunderous applause and standing ovation ensued.

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