Mideast facts misrepresented

  • Monday, September 1, 2014 6:43pm
  • Opinion

Two related issues tightly wound together are strangling the truth by misrepresenting facts in the current Mideast crisis. They are the death toll in Gaza and the intimidation of western reporters by Hamas.

As the fighting died down, journalists emerging from Gaza admitted that Hamas has pressured them to avoid taking pictures of missiles fired by the terrorists from hospitals, schools and population centers. Reporters also admitted that they’ve been coerced into accepting Hamas death counts without questioning them.

It is understandable for reporters in a war zone controlled by a terrorist organization to rein in their skepticism to avoid being expelled from Gaza, or killed. Less explicable is their editors’ refusal to inform readers and viewers of difficulties that may affect the accuracy of reporters’ stories.

In recent days, The New York Times, Al Jazeera, the BBC, U.S. News & World Report and other media outlets have run stories retreating from death tolls they have reported. The tolls are based largely on Hamas health sources claiming the killed have been overwhelmingly civilian. The death tolls are used to argue that Israeli attacks have been “disproportionate.”

In fact, a New York Times analysis of the Hamas numbers found that young men age 20-29, whom it judged most likely to be fighters, represented 34 percent of deaths but make up only 9 percent of the population of Gaza. Women and children under 15 were 33 percent of the deaths but make up 71 percent of the population.

These Hamas figures actually support Israel’s claim that it tries as hard as it can to target only combatants, which Hamas deliberately makes as hard as it can by storing munitions in and launching attacks from hospitals, schools and densely populated areas of Gaza, as even the United Nations admits.

Accordingly, on Aug. 12, the Foreign Press Association, an organization of foreign war correspondents in Israel, issued a statement condemning the “blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox” harassment of foreign reporters by Hamas.

After the war of 2009-10, Hamas claimed that only 50 of its fighters had been killed by Israel. Later Hamas admitted the real figure was between 600 and 700 — as Israel had claimed all along.

Hamas’s lies are, in fact, old news. Could that be why the same lies this time around have not been widely reported?



The Providence (R.I.) Journal,

Aug. 29

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