Monday, August 07, 2006

Lebanese prime minister: no massacre after all

We awoke this morning to reports that Israeli planes had killed at least 40 civilians in the town of Houla. In a report time-stamped at 10:14 a.m. EDT, Reuters reported,

"An hour ago, a horrific massacre took place in Houla village as a result of the intentional Israeli bombardment that resulted in more than 40 martyrs," Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told an Arab foreign ministers meeting in Beirut.

But not so fast. Now Haaretz reports,

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on Monday reversed his earlier claim that 40 people had been killed in an Israel Air Force strike on a southern Lebanon village earlier in the day, saying that there was at least one person dead.

"The massacre in Houla, it turned out that there was one person killed," Siniora told reporters. "They thought that the whole building smashed on the heads of about 40 people... thank God they have been saved."

Rescuers said that some 50 people had been found alive in a shelter under the ruins of a bombed building in the border village of Houla.

Even so, it could have been a much more lethal attack than it turned out to be. But this is good news. And it should lead us to remember the old Army adage, "First reports are always wrong."

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