Qana Bombing Body Count Falls Sharply

IDF probe finds no connection between Hezbollah and house that was hit

Additional questions arose yesterday about the Israel Air Force's strike on a building in Qana on Sunday, even as the number of fatalities in the incident appeared to be much lower than originally published.

The Red Cross announced yesterday that 28 bodies, including those of 19 children, had been found at the site. Additional bodies are expected to be found over the coming days.

Regarding the IAF strike itself, it remains unclear at this stage why that specific house, which was located at the northern edge of Qana, was targeted. The Israel Defense Forces' inquiry has yet to establish a connection between residents of the building and Hezbollah operatives who were launching rockets at Israel from the area of the village. The IDF believed the building to be empty, and therefore bombed it.

IDF sources said yesterday, however, that the investigation into the incident was still ongoing. The sources added that a large number of Katyusha rockets had been fired at Israel from the area of Qana.

According to survivors of the strike, two extended families had taken shelter in the building. The survivors said that the Shalhoub and Hashem families remained in the building because they were unable to afford the cost of traveling north. The families also assumed that the Israeli drones that were patrolling the skies above the village had seen that the building was occupied by numerous children.

The survivors spoke of two bombings ? one at 1 A.M., and the second some 10 minutes later. However, what appeared to the survivors as a second bombing may have been the sound of the building coming down. None of the survivors said that the building only collapsed several hours later.

Ibrahim Shalhoub described how he and his cousin had left to find help following the strike on the building. "It was dark and there was lots of smoke," he said. "No one could do anything until morning. I could not stop crying; I couldn't help them."

The fact that the Red Cross in Tyre was informed of the incident only in the morning is another reason why assistance was late in arriving. The director of the Red Cross office in the city, Sami Yazbek, said that he received word of the incident only at 7 A.M. The ambulances dispatched to the area were further delayed by the damaged roads, Yazbek said.