Central to the charge that Israel’s conduct warrants an investigation by an “independent” commission to investigate whether it committed war crimes is the premise that Israel, in defending itself against rockets launched by Hamas into its territory, caused a disproportionate number of civilian deaths.
Since a commission appointed by the anti-Israel United Nations Human Rights Council is looking to convict, a fair investigation into the violence is in order. Unfortunately, in an article from last week entitled “The U.N. says 7 in 10 Palestinians killed in Gaza were civilians. Israel disagrees,” The Washington Post failed to provide the necessary context to allow a proper understanding of Operation Protective Edge.
The war in Gaza will now continue in a battle between databases to determine who was killed and why.
The most contested number, the one that attracts the most stubborn insistence and ferocious rebuttal, is not the total fatalities on the Palestinian side, the more than 2,100 dead in the Gaza hostilities.
The controversy centers instead on the ratio of civilians to combatants, or as the Israelis call them “terrorist operatives.”
In the second sentence the reporter, William Booth, mentions the “stubborn insistence and ferocious rebuttal,” but doesn’t acknowledge his own role in supporting the “stubborn insistence.”
Booth’s articles on Operation Protective Edge have often contained similar language describing “mounting Palestinian civilian casualties.” Furthermore, in other instances articles on which Booth was bylined listed casualty totals with no judgment as to their veracity. For example on July 19 a dispatch on which he had a byline reported:
The Palestinian death toll from the conflict rose Saturday to more than 330, including about 60 children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. An additional 2,200 have been injured. The United Nations estimates that about 80 percent of the casualties are civilians, many of them children.