BBC still citing erroneous civilian/combatant casualty ratio

On December 24th 2012 an article was published in the Middle East section of the BBC News website pertaining to the statement put out on the same day by ‘Human Rights Watch’ which deemed the rocket attacks on Israeli civilians by Palestinian terror organisations to be a violation of the laws of war. 

BBC report on HRW

In an apparent attempt to inject an air of moral equivalence early on in the piece, the article’s third paragraph states:

“Last week, HRW said Israeli attacks on media facilities and journalists in Gaza also violated the laws of war.”

In the fifth paragraph we find the BBC still touting erroneous claims about casualty figures from Operation ‘Pillar of Cloud’ [emphasis added]:

“At least 170 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed in the fighting. Most of the Palestinian fatalities were civilians, although Israel says 30 senior militants were among the dead. Four of the Israelis killed by rocket strikes were civilians, and two were soldiers.”

Apparently the BBC is not yet aware that a list of names of casualties from the Gaza Strip was published on December 16th by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. The list was compiled by cross-referencing the names of casualties published by the Hamas Ministry of Health with those appearing on the websites and social media forums of the various terror organisations active in the Gaza Strip and in the Palestinian media. 

The list is not perfect: for instance it categorises four year-old Mahmoud Sadallah as an uninvolved (civilian) casualty despite the fact that there is very good reason to believe that his death was the result of a misfired rocket by one of the Palestinian terror groups. 

Nevertheless, it does give us the names and affiliations of 169 casualties out of a maximum number of 178. Nine names – all adult males – were unidentifiable. Some of the people identified have been shown to have died from natural causes unconnected to the conflict, but their names were added to the Hamas Ministry of Health list anyway. 

Of the 169 casualties identified, 101 (some 60%) were shown to be members of terrorist organisations. Sixty eight (around 40%) of the casualties were uninvolved civilians who died during attacks on terrorists and terrorist installations. Of the terrorists killed, 71 belonged to Hamas, 17 to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, 6 to the Popular Resistance Committees, three to Fatah, two to the Army of Islam, one to the PFLP and one to a Salafist-Jihadist group. 

Unless the BBC can come up with any concrete evidence which contradicts the information provided on that list, it should – according to its own standards of accuracy – cease to use the claim that “most of the Palestinian fatalities were civilians” and correct its existing reports accordingly. 

Another misleading claim in this article states that:

“Israel’s declared aim in launching its offensive on 14 November was to stop rocket attacks from Gaza. Thousands of rockets have been fired into Israel since 2005 when it pulled Jewish settlers and troops out of the territory.”

The average reader of that paragraph would understand that rocket fire into Israel began in the year 2005. That of course is not the case, with rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli civilians living in villages inside the Gaza Strip having begun on January 30th 2001 and attacks over the ‘green line’ having commenced two months later in March 2001. Whilst the phrase “thousands of rockets” is not strictly speaking incorrect, a more accurate choice of wording would have been “tens of thousands of rockets” and even better would have been to give the readily available precise numbers. 

The article concludes by returning yet again to the prior HRW report which accused Israel of ‘targeting journalists’, with the BBC still insisting on categorizing members of the propaganda arm of a terrorist organisation as “Palestinian cameramen”, even though their affiliations have been clarified on a Hamas-linked website.

al Kumi & Salama

Unless the BBC can produce evidence which contradicts Hamas’ acknowledgement of Hussam Salama and Mahmoud Al Kumi as part of its media arm, or unless it can come up with any legal basis to support the implied claim that journalists working for terror organisations are not categorized as non-civilians in the same manner as journalists working for regular armies are, then according to its own standards of accuracy it should cease to refer to them as merely “Palestinian cameramen”. 

In conclusion, what we have in this article is an inaccurate civilian/combatant casualty ratio, a misleading statement concerning the duration of rocket attacks and – in a report ostensibly about Palestinian violations – no fewer than six paragraphs about a different HRW report altogether, used to suggest moral equivalence between the deliberate targeting and killing of civilians and the targeted killings of members of terrorist organisations.


46 comments on “BBC still citing erroneous civilian/combatant casualty ratio

    • The thing is, Daphne, this isn’t a science in which the Double-D’s lack the necessary qualification. If it was, then the BBC would have some wiggle room.

    • “Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center’s list categorises four year-old Mahmoud Sadallah as an uninvolved casualty”.

      This is… this is… let’s say that I almost threw up reading this.

      The distinction is between CIVILIAN and COMBATANT.

      A four-year-old child is a CIVILIAN and an illegitimate target.

      The fact that Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center does not use this classic distinction, which is binding upon all – including Israel – shows that this institution is not to be taken seriously.

    • The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center is an Israeli-based association with close ties with Israel’s military leadership (they maintain an office at the Israeli Defense Ministry).

      Their list of casualties cannot be taken seriously – the center is not impartial, and its employees cannot set foot in Gaza to verify their data.

      If you want to have real information, please check the list of casualties provided by United Nations agencies, whose experts are on the ground in Gaza and who are impartial.

        • 30 children were killed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza last month,as verified by the UN.

          The ten-month old baby boy of a BBC employee was killed in an Israeli airstrike with while at home – a family home, located in a residential neighbourhood.

          Have you no decency? How can you be so full of hatred that you are unable to show compassion for a child who was ten-month old?

          • Yes, I remember that poor child. I also remember his Uncle, a recognised Hamas operative, was killed in the same event. I also remember his father, the BBC man, seemed to latterly become rather confused about where the family home actually was, but in the end, it turned out they lived very close to a Fajr 5 missile silo that was hit by an Israeli strike. I wonder whose idea it was to put that silo in that residential neighbourhood. Could it have been, once again, the people who were supposed to be responsible for his safety and well-being?

          • Dear Yorkie, please remember that Tsahal’s spokeswoman told AFP that Tsahal did target the al-Dalou family house, killing several women and children inside.

          • Yes, stinky, I remember the Al Dalou family too. And I remember the Israeli govt. issuing an apology for their mistake in targeting this house, an error which was caused by incorrect intelligence reports. All armies make some mistakes, even modern, well equipped ones. War is hell: innocent people always suffer. The difference is, as you well know, the IDF do not deliberately target civilians, whereas Hamas does so with very nearly ALL its missile attacks.

          • Dear Yorkie, you are mistaken – an IDF spokeswoman officially acknowledged that txsahal had targeted the Dalou family home, in which several young children were killed. The AFP interview of the spokeswoman was published everywhere.

          • shoshana, you are an antisemitic liar – the child was paraded in front of the cameras, despite having been killed by a Palestinian rocket which fell short.

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  2. IMHO, the facts no longer matter. So much of this is pure anti-semetism. Nothing else. When your decisions are baced on hate, truth doesn’t matter.

  3. Time for the @BBC to grow up & to use correct facts & figures about about Israel. The BBC never misses any chance to miss facts and truth on Israeli issues. I think that they deliberately doing so because of the fat Arab money they gets.

    • The BBC uses the list of casualties provided by the UN, whose experts are on the ground.

      The list of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center is not to be taken seriously – their employees have not even set foot in Gaza!

      • List of combatant killed are easily verified using the websites of Hamas & Islamic Jihad. You are welcome to look them up and refute Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center with facts.

        Facts.. do you understand the meaning of this word? Or do you base your arguments on pure emotion mainly your great love of terror organizations.

        • Johnny, you’re wasting your time attempting any kind of reasoning with ‘shoshana’. It is not in the least interested in the facts: it is riven by its emotions, chief of which is hatred of Jews.

          • Dear Yorkie, why do you insult people who disagree with what you say? Why, instead of engaging in a fruitful debate, do you label people you disagree with as being “riven by hatred of Jews”?

            How can you ignore the fact that Israel is a democratic state where freedom of expression does matter, and where extremist and racist views are only expressed by a minority of marginalized people?

            Why can’t you share the hope and prayers of the Jewish people for peace? Why do you have so much hatred in your heart?

          • I have not insulted you: I have told the truth about you. To insult you is to say something that isn’t true. And actually, I do share the hopes of the Jewish people for peace – and indeed, of those Palestinians who are also genuinely interested in peace. Unfortunately I feel that the Palestinian people are, and always have been, very badly served by their own leadership.

      • Shoshana; Every day, Hamas releases new names of “fighters” killed in the attacks. They withhold comment knowing the pro Palestinian UN will push things their way.
        NEVER TRUST THE UN OR THE LEFTIST NGOs WHERE ISRAEL IS CONCERNED! The current acknowleged #s are very close Meir Amits #s.

        • Hamas’ list of casualties cannot be trusted – they are biased.

          Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center’s list cannot be trusted – they are biased too.

          Only the list verified by impartial organizations who have full access to the ground, such as the United Nations or the ICRC, can be trusted.

    • We must never forget that BBC is LEFTIST! For reasons I have never understood the left is and has been both anti-semitic and anti-Zionist. They DO know what they are saying. The far left is the spiritual heir of Goebels and Pravda. Tell a lie big enough, loudly enough, often enough, and it will be believed. In actuality, I expect nothing but propaganda from BBC and it’s ilk. So I’m not really bothered by them. Those I really object to are the many (too many) Jews, not just there, but here in the USA, who support anti Zionist causes. Time and space prevent listing them. But the informed readers of this post (except sprattyville) know who they are.

      • BBC’s job is to report from the ground and to be impartial. You cannot ask them to copy-paste the press releases of the Government of Israel, or those of Hamas. They do their jobs as journalists – inform their audience about what is actually happening on the ground. Their job is not to report what Israel or Hamas’ PRs would like them to report.

        • Strange, then, that they actually repeat almost verbatim the Hamas view on pretty much everything. Strange also how little coverage we got from them regarding the Israeli position, during Pillar of Cloud. I actually found Al Jazeera’s (English language version) coverage somewhat less pro-Hamas than the BBC’s. Clearly, what you know about the BBC would fit on a postage stamp. But as an Israeli citizen (your most recent claim, I believe), you won’t actually have access to its coverage as reported to its home audience.

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