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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

WaPo, while not perfect, much fairer than NYT in Gaza article

The Washington Post has a feature article about some innocent victims in Gaza.

Even though the reader is naturally empathetic with the stories of those killed and injured, the article did note that Israel takes pains to avoid civilian injury - a critical point that is too often ignored in articles like these. It also notes that Hamas benefits from every civilian death, although it falls short on reporting the fact that Hamas intentionally places military targets in crowded neighborhoods.
The Israel Defense Forces often calls the militants in Gaza whose homes it intends to strike minutes before doing so, a way of minimizing the deaths of any women and children who might be inside.

For Israel, the warnings have a logic that is both moral and strategic: Even a successful operation against a senior militant can be overshadowed by the outrage — among Palestinians and around the world — that can ensue over civilian deaths.

But the phone calls are no guarantee that innocents will be spared. No single event galvanizes support for Gaza’s armed groups like mass civilian killings by Israel’s military, and despite what Israel describes as exceptional caution, the recent conflict featured several of them.

On the night of the 19th, [PIJ member] Azzam did not answer his phone, according to several family members who recounted the incident this week. Moments later, when the buzz of an Israeli drone sounded above his family home in the Zeitun neighborhood, Azzam gathered the dozen people who were inside and fled into the street.

Within minutes, a drone strike, followed by an Israeli military jet’s bombing run, demolished the Azzam home and at least four others around it. Among them were two that belonged to the Abu Zor family, whose members say they had no affiliation with Gaza’s armed groups, chief among them Hamas. Two young mothers, Sahar and Nisma Abu Zor, and a 3-year-old named Mohammed perished in a blast meant to kill someone else.

“We were blown into the streets,” said Hana Abu Zor, Mohammed’s grandmother. “The house just came down around us.”

The details and aftermath of the airstrikes in Zeitun show how Israel, even while attempting to avoid civilian casualties, plays into the hands of its enemies in the cramped conflict here. Although there is lingering anger toward the Azzams, who say they did not have enough time to warn their neighbors before the attack, the survivors ultimately blame Israel.

Meanwhile, Hamas, which faced rising public discontent before the eight-day confrontation with Israel, has reaped the benefit of such attacks and has emerged in perhaps its strongest political position since taking full control of the Mediterranean enclave five years ago.
One major problem with the article, though, is that they rely on the lying Hamas health ministry for statistics of how many women and children were killed:
Of the 174 Palestinians killed in the conflict, 43 percent were women, children and seniors, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. More than half of the 1,400 people wounded fall into the same categories.
This is easily disproven. Ma'an, among others, has a tally of victims, and the real percentage of women, seniors and children killed is 31% - 54 out of 174. And Ma'an is including at least one child who was killed by an errant Qassam rocket. (Ma'an also includes two terrorists as journalists, and does not even note who the militants are.)

In other words, the Gaza health minister is converting 21 male adults into women and children, which is hardly a rounding error.

It is a shame that journalists who cover the region don't have the basic knowledge, proven during Cast Lead,  that some purveyors of statistics are not to be trusted.

(h/t EBoZ)