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September 01, 2014

LA Times' Inflated Gaza Casualty Stat Exceeds Palestinian Source's

Sept. 2 Update: LA Times Corrects Inflated Figure for Gaza's Civilian Casualties

Some media outlets have accepted as fact overstated Palestinian casualty figures. But, last month, The Los Angeles Times went a step further, inflating Gaza's civilian casualties beyond even what Palestinian sources have claimed.

Laura King reported Aug. 21 ("Hamas denies Israel airstrike in Gaza killed elusive leader"):

lat more than 2000 civilians.JPG

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 2,168 Gazans were killed in the conflict since July 8, of which, says the PCHR, 76.6 percent, or 1,662, were civilians. According to the Palestinian Al Mezan organization, 1,666 out of a total of 2,168 Gaza fatalities were civilian. The U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs claims that out of a total of 2104 casualties, 1,462 were civilians.

Thus, according the U.N., in addition to Palestinian sources, King's figure is greatly exaggerated.

Moreover, Israel disputes the Palestinian and U.N. figures, saying almost half of those Gazans killed were combatants.

In a subsequent article, King did accurately report on the disputed casualty figures. She commendably wrote August 25:

About 2,100 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in this round of fighting, most of them civilians, according to the United Nations, but Israel says hundreds were fighters for Hamas or other militant groups.

Regarding the U.N.'s figures, it is important to keep in mind that, as documented by MEMRI, Hamas officials have encouraged Gazans to conceal the deaths of combatants. (Also, as indicated by The New York Times, human rights groups acknowledge that their figures, which form the basis of UN numbers, also likely include Gazans who were killed by Hamas as collaborators and those who died from natural causes, and other causes unrelated to Israeli strikes, such as domestic violence.)

Time published an online analysis by CAMERA's Steven Stotsky, using figures from the Palestinian Committee for Human Rights, found very low percentages of adult female casualties and high numbers of fatalities among males of combat age, 17 - 39 ("How Hamas Wields Gaza's Casualties as Propaganda, "July 29) after the first two weeks of fighting. Interestingly, there is a spike in casualties starting at the age of 17, peaking in the early to mid 20, and then rapidly diminishing.

It is also worth recalling that during the winter 2008-09 conflict between Israel and Gaza, many in the media repeated Hamas' claims as fact that "most" of those killed were civilians. Months later, when the world stopped paying attention, Hamas acknowledged that, in fact, it had lost many hundreds of its fighters, confirming the figures Israel had been stating all along.

CAMERA has contacted LA Times editors to request a correction of the inflated Aug. 21 figure, and to point out that subsequent accurate reporting does not obviate the need for the correction of the earlier error, which continues to live on uncorrected in cyberspace.

Posted by TS at September 1, 2014 06:56 AM

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