Emerson Vermaat Exclusive: Dutch Journalist sees remnants of missile launchers and Russian manual near Qana
August 1, 2006
Dutch journalist sees remnants of missile launchers and Russian manual near Qana
By Emerson Vermaat
Dutch journalist Hans Jaap Melissen from the Dutch radio network ‘Wereldomroep' claims to have seen remnants of missile launchers when he visited the devastated Lebanese city of Qana on 31 July 2006. In Qana, the Israeli airforce recently bombed a building where more than fifty civilians were hiding. In a telephone interview with the Dutch TV newsprogram ‘Nova' Melissen first said that the bodies of 27 civilians (and not fifty or more) had been brought to the hospital and a number of civilians had been injured. He was then asked: ‘Could the Israeli claim that Hezbollah lauched missiles from the building be true? Melissen replied:
‘Yes, it could very well be true because it happened nearby. Today (31st July) I have been looking for (missile) installations. And then you see in the vicinity of Qana a garage from where even big missiles (rockets) were launched. You can still see the tubes or pipes from five meter long rockets. Launched from this position here, such missiles can penetrate deep into Israel. And at this spot where I was, where you see these destroyed installations and these very big pipes, you will also find a Russian manual on how to launch these missiles.
What you further see in the hills near Qana are small roads suitable for trucks with missile launchers – these are mobile launchers. But in the vicinity of that house in Qana I didn't see anything.'
Also interviewed by Nova TV was Dutch general Frank van Kappen, a well-known and respected authority on military affairs and a former advisor to the UN Secretary General. In 1996, general van Kappen reported to the UN Security Council on a previous Israeli bombing in Qana where many civilians – who had fled to the UN compound – died. In Nova, van Kappen said he did not believe this bombing had been deliberate government policy. He did not rule out that back in 1996 someone in the chain of command of the Israeli army took the decision to bomb Qana after once again Hezbollah fighters had taken refuge there as well. A similar thing could have happened in the latest bombing in Qana, van Kappen suggested. But this does not limit the responsibility of the Israeli government and the army for such bombings, van Kappen indicated. Political control is not one of the best qualities of the Israeli army. According to van Kappen Hezbollah is confronted by a militarily superior enemy, and it seeks to compensate its own military inferiority by hiding among the civilian population or by firing katyushas from a position close to a United Nations camp or close to where the civilians are. Hezbollah is not restrained by the rules of war, as are normal armies. These Hezbollah tactics highly complicate matters for the Israeli army, that's why the Israelis want the civilians out of southern Lebanon so that they can go after the Hezbollah fighters themselves, van Kappen said.
Text in Dutch (Hans Jaap Melissen), Nova TV, 31 July 2006:
Vraag (Question): De Israeli's claimen dat er vanuit het appartement in Qana Hezbollah raketten zijn afgeschoten. Zou dat eigenlijk gewoon waar kunnen zijn?
Meeuwissen: Ja, 't zou natuurlijk waar kunnen zijn omdat 't vooral in de buurt gebeurd is. En ik heb zelf ook deze dag goed gebruikt om rond te kijken naar installaties. En je ziet ook in de buurt van Qana een garage waarvandaan zelfs grote raketten werden afgeschoten. Je ziet de buizen nog liggen van vijf meter lange lange raketten. Nou die komen ver in Israel als je die vanaf hier afschiet. En bij die kapotgeschoten installatie met die enorme buizen vindt je zelfs een Russisch instructieboekje over hoe je die raketten moest wegschieten.
Wat je ook ziet, ook in de buurt van Qana, is dat er op de heuvels een soort stelsel is van weggetjes dat gebruikt wordt door een soort van vrachtwagens waar die installaties op staan. En die kunnen ze ook verplaatsten. Maar in de buurt van het huis heb ik niets gezien.'