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Friday, August 08, 2014

Flying pigs moment: BBC's chief statistician says caution needed with Gaza casualty figures

The Beeb - THE BEEB  - is calling for caution in dealing with Gaza casualty figures.
[I]f the Israeli attacks have been "indiscriminate", as the UN Human Rights Council says, it is hard to work out why they have killed so many more civilian men than women.
Matthias Behnk, from OHCHR, told BBC News that the organisation would not want to speculate about why there had been so many adult male casualties, adding that because they were having to deal with a lot of casualties in a short time, they had "focused primarily on recording the casualties".
"As such, we have not at this stage conducted a detailed analysis of trends of civilian casualties, for example in relation to the reasons why different groups are affected and the types of incidents, but hope to carry this out at some point in the coming future," he said.
"However, even in the compiling of these preliminary figures, we cross-verify between different sources, not only media and several different human rights organisations, but also use other sources, including, for example, names of alleged fighters released by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and notices by armed groups in Gaza claiming someone as a member." 
The list of names and ages of the dead published by al-Jazeera also found men aged between 20 and 29 to be significantly overrepresented.
The IDF say they have killed at least 253 Hamas operatives, 147 Islamic Jihad operatives, 65 "operatives of various organisations" and 603 "operatives whose affiliation is unknown", although they also stress that this is not a final number.
Spokesman Capt Eytan Buchman told BBC News that "the UN numbers being reported are, by and by large, based on the Gaza health ministry, a Hamas-run organisation".
He said that part of the reason for the discrepancy between the figures was "when militants are brought to hospitals, they are brought in civilian clothing, obscuring terrorist affiliations".
"Hamas also has given local residents directives to obscure militant identities," he said.
"It's important to bear in mind that in Operation Cast Lead [the last Israeli ground offensive in December 2008-January 2009], Hamas and Gaza-based organisations claimed that only 50 combatants were killed, admitting years later the number was between 600-700, a figure nearly identical to the figure claimed by the IDF."
In conclusion, we do not yet know for sure how many of the dead in Gaza are civilians and how many were fighters. This is in no sense the fault of the UN employees collecting the figures - their statistics are accompanied by caveats and described as preliminary and subject to to revision.
But it does mean that some of the conclusions being drawn from them may be premature.
 Maybe we'll even get a fair hearing this time? What could go wrong?

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At 3:43 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Well, sure BBC says this NOW, after their other headlines have gone around the world, to every nook and cranny, setting the narrative in concrete. Kind of like former President Jimmy Carter's lying lies, that he is sticking with, and that people keep on quoting. Why not post things from Ted Cruz or Allen West... people who are supporting Israel's position from the word GO. But Israeli sites just go on and on, into the sunset, hashing through New Left Commie Propaganda lying crap, without even airing any of the people who actually support Israel. IMHO. ;)

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

BTW, Michael Yon is going wild, absorbing slings and arrows, posting the accurate story of Israel's predicament. Has anyone in Israel (besides Carl I. Jerusalem) even heard of Michael Yon? And are people in the Israel PR apparatus giving him the SHARE that he should be getting?

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Hi Sunlight,

I look at my job as mostly being either to post news that people have not heard or to answer the MSM morons rather than posting things with which I agree.

But I'm long past due to follow Michael on Twitter - have to dump someone else because I'm paranoid about having a feed that's too unwieldy to find anything.

At 4:37 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Carl, omitting supporters because you agree with them reduces their reach. Focusing on only people you disagree with gives them credence and ever more exposure. Maybe your supporters (even if they are Republicans!) can be posted as part of your opposition to the lying MSM morons, if you can't bring yourself to post about them on their own merit because they are FACTUAL.


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