We’ve been here before.

The Jenin Massacre that wasn’t.

The Pallywood industry of deception.

And a Western media that laps it all up without question when hostilities are active, and only in some cases bothers to look back later as the facts come out.

In the current Gaza conflict, one of the biggest talking points, repeated endlessly by the media, anti-Israel groups, “human rights” groups, and the U.N., is that only a tiny portion, maybe 15% of deaths, were Palestinian combatants. That numbers game was put into play not by Israel, but by those against Israel.

It’s morbid to engage in these body counts, but it is the Palestinians and their advocates who put them in issue by claiming that the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths constitutes proof of a war crime. It doesn’t, as disproportionate force is more than a number count, but in the public relations realm it matters.

Slowly, as in past conflicts (including in Lebanon 2006), that statistic will be revealed to be a lie. That civilian deaths are a result of rockets launched from civilian areas is only part of the story.

The Washington Post, to its credit, has two articles at least presenting the possibility that the media has been manipulated.

In Reporters grapple with politics, erratic sources in reporting Israeli/Gaza death toll, WaPo examines the questionable civilian-to-combatant statistics used by Palestinians:

As of Monday morning, the widely cited Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said that 1,888 Palestinians had died in Gaza since the Israel Defense Forces began the current military campaign July 8.

But that estimate is fraught with an important sub-issue: How many of those killed are Hamas fighters, compared with civilians? There are also questions about how people have died, whether from Israeli airstrikes and artillery barrages or by other means, such as errant rocket fire from within Gaza by Hamas itself.

The PCHR said 84 percent of those killed in Gaza were civilians; Israel sharply disputes this figure. An Israeli government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said about half of those killed have been Hamas combatants, and the number could rise once Israeli intelligence sources vet all of names of those killed. This higher figure is consistent, he said, with what Israeli officials found in after-action investigations into Israel’s two most recent operations in Gaza, in late 2012 and in 2008-2009….

A pro-Israeli group, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), last month analyzed two weeks of casualty data released by the PCHR and found that 57 percent of the dead were males between the ages of 17 and 39. While it’s unclear whether these men were actually militants, the disproportionate number of young men of prime fighting age suggests that there may be more combatants among the dead than PCHR and other organizations have acknowledged, concluded Steven Stotsky, a senior analyst for CAMERA.

In A reporter explains what it’s like being trapped in the Gaza propaganda war, WaPo examines the Israeli media operation, and how Palestinians manipulated the media by setting up scenes for photographers:

I had just arrived outside the shattered remains of a large mosque in central Gaza City last week. It had been pulverized by an Israeli airstrike. There was rubble, glass and metal everywhere. But on a patch of ground in front of the structure, visible for everyone to see, was a small, dusty carpet.

On top lay piles of burned, ripped copies of the Koran, Islam’s holy book. The symbolism was obvious, almost too perfect. It was clear that someone had placed them there to attract sympathy for the Palestinian cause. A television crew spotted the pile and filmed it. Mission accomplished….

In Gaza, it’s a different kind of manipulation, more raw, more visceral, and yet at the same time, more subtle than Israel’s media machine.

Take the attack in the Beach Camp neighborhood of Gaza City last week. Hamas militants blamed an Israeli strike; Israel declared that Hamas accidentally fired a mortar into the neighborhood. Children had died.

In the middle of the road, where the kids were killed, was a small pool of blood. At first glance, it evoked a sense of sadness and outrage. As I looked closer, I noticed a child’s slipper in the middle of the blood. The slipper was intact. There were no bloodstains. And next to the slipper, a black plastic toy gun.

Again I noticed a television cameraman drawn to this powerful image. I moved on.

We have examined this Shoe Fauxtography before, years ago, Abid Katib – Palestinian Shoe Fauxtographer?, in which pristine, brightly colored children’s shoes miraculously appear in photos of charred ruins.

Like in this 2009 NY Times article:

NY Times 2009 Shoe Photo Gaza

The truth will come out, as it always does, but by that time the anti-Israeli lies will have traveled the world many times. And will be as engrained in the public debate as the supposed Jenin Massacre.