Last week, Israel bombed a claimed Hezbullah command bunker in southern Beirut, with dozens of warplanes dropping some 23 ton of explosives on the building. Hezbullah, for its part, said the building was nothing more than a mosque under construction, and not a military target of any sort.
As a civilian and a layman, I have no way of assessing these claims. They may both be true: the mosque construction site may serve as cover for the bunker. Or Hezbullah may be lying. Or Israeli intelligence may have been wrong.
Fortunately, the Middle East is blessed with a plethora of objective journalists to help us sort truth from fiction. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) So I watched eagerly a few days later as a CNN reporter was allowed to visit the site of the attack.
To be fair, he noted that Hezbullah had refused access to journalists for the first day or so after the bombing, so the area seemed to be sensitive. And he couldn't know what may have been removed from the scene before he arrived.
But the pictures he broadcast showed, very clearly, a mosque under construction. Somewhat damaged, but substantially intact. And, he noted, there didn't seem to be much more than a basement underneath it. There was damage to the surrounding buildings, as well. But no bunkers in sight.
I've never seen a building which had been bombarded with 23 tons of explosives, so I can't tell you what it would look like. But I'm pretty sure it wouldn't look like a mosque under construction. Whatever it had looked like the day before.
Going after Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Israel can typically destroy a building with a quarter-ton to one-ton bomb. This attack was supposedly 20-100 times more powerful than that. Granted, a mosque may be larger and stronger than a typical residential building, but remember Israel was aiming to destroy a complex of reinforced bunkers underneath the building. After an assault like that, is it conceivable that the half-built mosque on the site was still recognizable as such?
There are only two possible explanations. Either Israel didn't really drop 23 tons of bombs on the building (Could most of them have missed? Unlikely) - or Hezbullah took the journalists to the wrong site.
Guess which I think is more likely.