August 30, 2006

Armored Vehicle Experts: Reuters News Vehicle Not Hit By Israeli Missile

There has been quite a bit of debate in the blogosphere surrounding this story (note: link has been deactivated) of several days ago:

An Israeli air strike hit a Reuters vehicle in Gaza City on Saturday, wounding two journalists as they covered a military incursion, doctors and residents said.

One of the Palestinian journalists, who worked for a local media organization, was seriously wounded. A cameraman working for Reuters was knocked unconscious in the air strike, one of several in the area.

The Israeli army said the vehicle was hit because it was acting suspiciously in an area of combat and had not been identified as belonging to the media.

"During the operation, there was an aerial attack on a suspicious vehicle that drove in a suspicious manner right by the forces and in between the Palestinian militant posts," army spokeswoman Captain Noa Meir said.

"This car was not identified by the army as a press vehicle," she said. "If journalists were hurt, we regret it."

Despite the Israeli acknowledgement that they did fire on a "suspicious vehicle," bloggers were inherently suspicious of the story due to apparently staged and in some cases definitively falsified information provided by Arab news stringers and photojournalists in the recent Israeli-Hezbollah War. Some were quick to cast doubts on the veracity of the story.

Other bloggers, notably AllahPundit, Ace of Spades and Dan Riehl cautioned that we should resist jumping on the "Pallywood" bandwagon without having support for the claims being made.

I wanted support to prove or disprove these allegations, and so I went to the people who should know most about the kind of vehicles damaged in the attack, armored vehicle manufacturers themselves.


I sent an email to these five armored vehicle manufacturers, asking them to look at the photo (above) that seems to be the center of the debate, and asked them two questions:

  1. Is this damage consistent with what you might expect from a 70MM rocket's warhead detonating roughly a foot above an civilian-manufactured armored vehicle such as the one pictured? If not, would you expect more damage, or less?
  2. People suspicious of the attack are citing the obvious rust around the impact site on the vehicle as proof that these are old markings, while the expert claims that vehicles can rust in this kind of climate in the short time mentioned. Does that sound logical, or would alloys used in civilian armored vehicles take longer to show this level of rust? Would you provide an estimate of how long it would take?

Within an hour, I had responses from representatives of two armored vehicle manufacturing companies.

David Khazanski of Inkas Armored Vehicle Manufacturing responded first, stating:

Looking at the picture received through the link on your email, the damage on the vehicle was sustained very long time ago and probably not by the rocket, or it was already tempered [sic] with[.]

In no uncertain terms, Mr. Khazankski doubts that the vehicle was damaged recently, or by rocket fire, and suggests that the vehicle may have been tampered with.

Chris Badsey, chairman and CEO of First Defense International Group, which has armored vehicles deployed in the Middle East and has professional knowledge of Israeli weaponry, graciously offered up a very detailed analysis of the vehicle in the photo above (minor spelling errors corrected):

1.) Firstly as an armouring company we are familiar with all weapons, weapons damage, collateral damage and the destruction of armoured vehicles from blasts and various types of rockets and ammunition.
2.) Secondly we are familiar with the Israeli weapons of choice and uses in the field as we continue to work with them and have a manufacturing relationship with them both in Israel and Iraq.
3.) Whether the Reuters vehicle was attacked by who I could not verify but In my expert opinion the damage, the hole is NOT consistent of a Hellfire Missile or a 70mm rocket nor any armoured piercing bullet/trajectory.
4.) The Reuters armoured van would only be armoured to threat level IV which would consist of 8mm of High Hard 4140 Steel armouring on the roof which you can see in the picture as peeled open somewhat. The damage to the roof looks to me very consistent with possible shrapnel penetration from an object other than a rocket or missile itself.
5.) Furthermore the armored glass would be 62mm for threat level IV protection against blasts and armour piercing rounds. The damage to the back window is certainly NOT consistent with any missile, bomb, rocket blast that would have occurred on impact if a rocket was fired around and directly at the vehicle.

Mr. Badsey went on to bring up a point that few of us seemed to have considered, and that is the primary blast effect involved in any explosive projectile used against an armored vehicle.

There are essential four kinds of blast effects (mechanisms) related to the detonation of any explosive device on the human body, and the first three carry over to the kind of damage we should expect warheads to have on vehicles.

They are:

  • primary: Unique to high-order explosives; results from the impact of the overpressurization wave with body surfaces ;
  • secondary: Results from flying debris and bomb fragments;
  • tertiary: Results when bodies are thrown by blast wind;
  • quaternary: All explosion-related injuries, illnesses, or diseases not due to primary, secondary, or tertiary mechanisms; includes exacerbation or complications of existing conditions

The vehicle in the picture above shows only very minor damage that some allege are consistent with the secondary, or shrapnel effect of a warhead detonating in close proximity. But a vehicle either hit by or suffering a near miss from a helicopter warhead would also sustain major primary blast damage, as shown below.


The photo above is of one of First Defense International Group's armored Ford Expeditions which was heavily damaged by an IED blast near Baghdad, Iraq. Note how the vehicle has been heavily dented by the blast. Teh hood is crumpled and the bumbers are destroyed. All bulletproof windows have been heavily damaged, with the left rear glass completely imploded (to FDI's credit, there were no casualties).


The Reuter's vehicle, however seems to show far less damage than one may expect. The sheet metal is not damaged, and the spider-webbing of the windshield would seem to be the only damage to the vehicle's glass. If a warhead detonated on or within feet of this vehicle as seems to be the claim, Mr. Badsey would have expected far more damage, what one word did he use to describe what we should see of this vehicle?


It was preceded by the words, "nothing left but."

I then forwarded this link to Mr. Badsey, and asked him if what he saw was consistent with the kind of damage he might expect from a 70MM rocket explosion above the vehicle as an intelligence expert opined to Allah at

He responded:

There is clearly no blast damage internally and only from some object inconsistent with any rocket or missile attack. I'm unable to see any burn or secondary explosion or markings from the picture so apologize for not been 100% able to see from this picture. A 70mm rocket has certain features and destructive mechanisms that are not consistent in either pictures especially on entry and internal damage from what you have shown me. The inside is too intact including the upholstery for this type of ammunition detonation on impact. It looks as if the armor was penetrated by probably flying shrapnel. Not consistent with missiles or rockets of any kind

And so here we stand, weighing conflicting stories.

Reuters says they were fired upon, and Israel agrees that they fired at a suspicious vehicle, but two armored vehicle experts state that the damage to this Reuters vehicle is not even close to being consistent with what they would expect from Israeli rockets or missiles. The first expert, Mr. Khazanski, indicated that he thinks the damage on the roof was sustained a "long time ago."

From what these experts tell me, it does not appear that the vehicle Reuters claimed was hit was hit by either a rocket or a missile, that the damage appears to be from some time prior to the attack, but that the damage may be consistent with shrapnel from something else.

Something damaged this Reuters armored vehicle, but when and how seems to be very much in doubt.

Update: Allah has another photo... no rust. that would possibly rule out the the damage being old, but what precisely hit the vehicle is still up in the air.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 30, 2006 01:22 PM | TrackBack

Looked at Allah's photo. I am not sure that there has not been a replacement of rust with a dark gray. Possible? I don't know, not my area of expertise. But if that is primer, would it rust? It doesn't look like bare metal.

Posted by: Loren at August 30, 2006 02:21 PM

I can't believe everyone is missing the completely different color of the ambulance. Whats the correct color? The allah shot is at night and the vehicle is very white and the reds are off. The daylight shot shows a more natural white and next to it a very bright white cars. The night picture has incorrect white balance. The basic question here is :
Which pictures color is correct? Then we will have the answer.

Posted by: NortonPete at August 30, 2006 02:30 PM

The photo of the vehicle where the rust is "grey" is the only one taken at night, with a flash. Plug the flash picture into any photo-editing program, adjust the color balance so the white of the vehicle's exterior matches how it looks in the natural-daylight pics, and the spots that looked gray with a flash do indeed look like rust.

Posted by: hcq at August 30, 2006 02:37 PM

Excellent analysis. I linked from Old War Dogs >> Bill's 2006.08.30 Short Shorts

Posted by: Bill Faith at August 30, 2006 03:12 PM

Well, I was going to comment on the color differences, but that has been well discussed.

The interior shot with the damage is not the vehicle pictured twice (unlinked). Look at the interior damage in the windshield area and look at the front passenger door (the one missing); two different vehicles.

Now for the hole: ever notice the entrance hole made by high speed projectiles? Entrance holes are round or tubular if oblique. Metal, even armor metal hit by a high speed projectile like a Hydra 70 rocket would have a round entrance hole. Any explosion would have occurred inside so there would be interior explosion damage (swelling out of panels, glass blown out, etc.)

Tearing occurs when a mass moving at slow velocity contacts the metal, like a sledge hammer or chunk of flying concrete debris from a larger explosion (say perhaps a HELLFIRE or artillery round hitting a building nearby). The damage is definitely not characteristic of Hydra 70 rocket and definitely not characteristic of a HELLFIRE (the high explosive variant, not the anti-armor variant).

I submit the truth will probably never be known.

Posted by: Old Soldier at August 30, 2006 06:22 PM

Methinks there was dust on the rust:

And darn you, Bob, and your quick-responding armor experts!

Posted by: See-Dubya at August 30, 2006 06:34 PM

I am no expert but I have a sneaking suspicion that when David Khazanski said tempered he actually meant tempered and not tampered as you have so helpfully suggested.

Posted by: Dicko at August 30, 2006 06:34 PM

A little something else to put into the mix. The "rust" could be nothing more than the primer under the paint. In the U.S. we use mainly grey primer but also the "rust red" primer.

I have seen three photos of this vehicle. In two, the area around the hole is discolored red, in one it is discolored grey.

Photoshopping, development variations or just different lighting will change colors slightly in photos. I opt that this discoloration is primer exposed when the paint was knocked off by "something".

That something could be shrapnel, an earlier accident where something fell on the roof or prehaps an Alien weapon of some kind.

But in the end it makes no difference, the Arab PR dept. has convinced almost all Arabs that the Jews were trying to kill their Journalists.

Score another for the Arab Media, the same one's that Rummy is worried about.

He has good reason to worry.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Posted by: Papa Ray at August 30, 2006 06:51 PM

Dicko - Highly doubtful, considering the context and the fact that "tempered with" doesn't make sense.

Posted by: FzxGkJssFrk at August 30, 2006 06:56 PM

"Dicko - Highly doubtful, considering the context and the fact that "tempered with" doesn't make sense."

What a lame response, brushing over the story by way of attention to a typo. In your heart are you trying to demonstrate the utmost imbecility?

Posted by: Dom at August 30, 2006 07:37 PM

New rust is orange and uneven , old rust is red and everywhere.
I wish I could form a better song to those who bewhere...

Rust Never Sleeps...

I work with metal of all types all day...

Posted by: NortonPete at August 30, 2006 07:41 PM

Rust removal is done in 3 min in Photoshop (could be done a bit better, but didn't want to waste my time. Everything is clear, anyway).I wonder where the "original" "rustless" photo apeared at the first time?

Posted by: freedom4all at August 30, 2006 07:50 PM

Rust removal is done in 3 min in Photoshop (could be done a bit better, but didn't want to waste my time. Everything is clear, anyway).I wonder where the "original" "rustless" photo apeared at the first time?

Posted by: freedom4all at August 30, 2006 07:52 PM

Dom - were you talking to me or Dicko? I was responding to Dicko's comment, not CY's post. To be clear, I think it's highly doubtful that David Khazanski meant "tempered with". "Tampered with" makes much more sense, as CY inferred. I agree with CY's interpretation.

Posted by: FzxGkJssFrk at August 30, 2006 10:35 PM

You can see that the rust is not that comprehensive. unlike the ambulance and that it has a greyish to yellowish tone in some places where oxidation is not complete.

The edges of the paintwork or sticker for the word 'press' is raised and jagged, so is recent. The paint seems, but is hard to determine, seems to have been subjected to heat and faint staining may be present.

The metal of the hole is a tear and not a puncture. it is got characteristics with pressing down in a concentrated area untill it gives usually tearing along three points that make a triangle.

At a guess to me... Ummm Mortar round, small one. Someone was taking potshots fer a joke and got a hit by the looks. Give the journo's a shake up. lol nearly got em killed.

Posted by: j hansford at August 31, 2006 12:16 AM

The journo's would've seen and heard choppers buzzin' about,as per usual. They would've been proceeding down a road and a sedate pace so as not to alarm anyone.

next second. Flash, Bang. Blood noses ruptured ear drums, woosh of hot air and stinging fragments, but mainly spurling and only small.

The first thought is, bang on roof plus helicopters. Awww the helicopter guy woz th' one wot did it. It wozzz him it tells ya!!!

But giggling and guffawin' away in a firing possition 2000 to 3000 meters away is a mortar team either Hezb' or Israeli, pissing themselves that they are soooo baaad, but ohhhh sooo goood LoL.

The road would've been all ranged in so its only their judgment that is good. But hats off, if it is like I've completely surmised. Damn fine shot!!

Posted by: j hansford at August 31, 2006 12:42 AM

Here is a question I have not yet seen posed (except by me, because I keep asking!!). Who filmed the "injured" "victims" being rushed to the hospital? It wasn't the victims themselves, who were dutifully posed in full-tragic status (one having borrowed a slightly-bloodied jacket to wear over his pristine-white T-shirt). It wasn't with the victim's video camera, which was proudly displayed as covered in blood. How convenient was it that other camera crews were standing by? And, how convenient was it that there were at least TWO crews, and still photographers, waiting at the hospital for the dramatic arrival footage.

One other point. Look at the seats. They are, except for the blood, pristine. No holes at all. This rules out shrapnel, or pretty much anything except intentionally inflicted damage to the dash -- maybe someone was trying to steal the car radio.

Okay, one more point. The Reuters report said that the cameraman reported "FIRE" (in all caps, no less). But, there is absolutely nothing burned in the nicely-white-painted vehicle.

Just another day on the set in Paliwood. But, as I have said before, faked pics are only news if they make Katie Couric look thinner.

Posted by: Watergate at August 31, 2006 01:53 AM


I misunderstood. I didn't realise you were addressing anyone in particular and thought you were just trashing the story. Sorry for the wildly inappropriate insult! And Dicko is a lovely name.


Posted by: Dom at August 31, 2006 08:04 AM

Dom - Apology accepted, no harm done.

Posted by: FzxGkJssFrk at August 31, 2006 09:41 AM

Just some more crap by the arab media.

YW Editor.

Posted by: YW Editor at August 31, 2006 11:02 AM