[NOTE: updated 27Jan2009] I generally abstain from posting news unless it provides a useful metaphor or application of some halakhic or theological principle or otherwise raises an interesting theological question, but the Torah admonished us לא תעמד על דם ריעך – do not stand idly by your fellow’s bloodshed. While even during Operation Cast Lead, Israel acted with great restraint and level headedness, so as to minimize civilian casualties, nations around the world are crying foul, comparing Israeli actions to the Nazi genocide. Yes, that is a canard; Nazis wanted to exterminate, while Israel is simply defending herself. In light of such rhetoric, one may not remain silent.
Interestingly, I discovered this article, which claims that there may be a storm in a teacup, as the accusations base themselves on a major hoax:
Gazan doctor says death toll inflated
Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera reported Thursday that a doctor working in Gaza’s Shifa Hospital claimed that Hamas has intentionally inflated the number of casualties resulting from Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.
“The number of deceased stands at no more than 500 to 600. Most of them are youths between the ages of 17 to 23 who were recruited to the ranks of Hamas, who sent them to the slaughter,” according to the newspaper article.
This reminds me of the accusations of war crimes hurled at Israel when it finally established some law and order in the hornet’s nest that is Jenin. The UN claimed 500 victims, most of them civilians, as per Palestinian claims; the world demanded an investigation. An accusatory documentary was produced, under the name Jenin Jenin. Eventually, the Palestinian Arab death toll was revised to about 50 people, mostly terrorists.
Likewise, during the Second Lebanese War, Hizbullah repeatedly faked photogenic scenes of destruction, which the Western media swallowed like hotcakes, only to be embarrassed later into admitting that their material was questionable. Search Honestreporting.com for extensive documentation.
Is the death toll of the Gaza war also a myth fabricated out of whole cloth? Only time will tell, let’s just make sure that the issue isn’t buried under the rubble of Hamas arms smuggling tunnels.
Update (27th of January ’09): Ynet News reports that the Israeli Defense Forces are investigating the number of Palestinian Arab casualties and report that Only 250 of Gaza fatalities were civilians, “Senior military sources say recent findings indicate at least 700 of those killed in Gaza offensive were gunmen. Palestinians claim only 300 armed men killed.”
Unfortunately, this kind of corrections doesn’t make it to the front page, firstly because “3 billion kids slaughtered by Israelis” sells better than “Palestinians inflated numbers and we bought it”, and secondly because they scream the random numbers when the action is hot, while the sober-minded objective analyses come when public attention has drifted to new topics.
I never understood why otherwise critical minds don’t question such numbers even when the reporters explicitly say “according to Palestinian sources”, but in some kind of conspiracy theory question even UN numbers as son as they’re lower.
Incidentally, the Hamas were so broadminded as to add to the figures lots of Fatah members they killed at the opportunity, according to both Palestinian and neutral reports.
Actually, I think the media made some progress, as they kept on stressing that the casualty figures were according to Palestinian sources, and ould not be independently verified.”But, as we see, they still accepted the figures uncritically. Come to think of it, so did the Israeli government to a certain extent.