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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jenin Redux

Wow, color me shocked!  It turns out the number of Gazans killed and wounded in Operation Cast Lead is likely far lower than was reported by Hamas (and parroted by the U.N. and Red Cross without the smallest attempt at fact-checking).

Lorenzo Cremonesi, a correspondent for Italy's Corriere della sera has visited Gaza hospitals and conducted extensive interviews with families of the dead and wounded.  What he reports is that the numbers provided by Hamas just don't add up.  Rather than the nice round 1200-1500 dead being widely reported, this journalist is saying that a maximum of 600 Gazans died in the aerial bombardment and ground operation combined.

It doesn't really matter though.  I'm sure that within a few months there will be a nice Indy film released called 'Gaza, Gaza' * that will make the rounds of the festivals - Cannes, Sundance, etc. - and will end up being embraced by Europeans of every stripe... and even by the left fringe of Israeli society.

I have to go on record as saying that I'm well past the point of caring about Gazan (or Lebanese) civilian deaths when these same civilians continue to wink and nod at the terrorists before and during each conflict as their neighborhoods are used as smuggling conduits, weapons depots and launch pads. 

In fact, to get an idea of the attitude of Gazans for this intolerable state of affairs, you have to watch the following video that was recorded during the 'war'.  It shows a female newscaster on the air in Gaza City being interrupted by a call telling her that a Grad missile has just been launched from under the very building where she is sitting.  Her reaction is amazement and a tittering laugh.  She even bites her lip prettily at the end as if to say "Oh those naughty Hamas fighters... those rascals!"

Here's a poised, educated woman who, unlike the typical Gazan, has a platform from which she can reach countless people in an instant.  Instead of decrying the needless endangerment of innocents (including herself) by the use of civilian areas as launch pads... she just flips her hair and giggles.

Obviously I feel the IDF should avoid harming civilians wherever possible.  But not at the expense of a single Israeli life.  At some point these people are going to have to take a tiny bit of responsibility for their own destiny instead of placing their fate entirely in the hands of thugs who want to turn them into martyrs. 

* Don't get the joke?  Go here.

Hat tip to HLK for the video link.

Posted by David Bogner on January 22, 2009 | Permalink

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Now it has arrived, the time to beware of flying pigs: Il Corriere publishes an article which dares to criticise Palestinian terrorists and exposes Hamas' crimes against their own populace.

I lack the English skills to translate it, but to those who speak Italian, I recommend to read Cremonesi's article.

Posted by: reader | Jan 22, 2009 5:49:49 PM

Btw.: I doubt that the newscaster represents all Gazans. Cremonesi, and he is not the only one, quotes other voices who seem to have got it that you cannot tolerate terrorists among you and live in peace. May that understanding spread.

Posted by: reader | Jan 22, 2009 6:01:01 PM

Ah, I thought of Europa Europa. Which, in retrospect, works in its own way too.

Posted by: Tanya | Jan 22, 2009 6:18:28 PM

Obviously, though, the question remains why the IDF largely agreed with the Palestinian casualty figures (though they disputed the breakdown). In the case of Lebanon, they had little data to work with, and in the case of Jenin, they directly disagreed with the casualty numbers. But here, the IDF claims some 450-700 (ish) Hamas casualties and acknowledge another 25-40% noncombatant casualties. That easily gets us into the 1100s or higher, which matches more or less. In fact, one of the remarkable things about the early phase of this war was that UN and IDF estimates of the numbers and distributions of casualties agreed!

I have no doubt that the numbers of civilian casualties has been inflated, and that a significant number of the 'civilians' were consenting to being used as shields (e.g. the Hamas interior minister's wives/etc.). But beyond that, I'm skeptical that the numbers are significantly 'off', just their distribution.

Ender

Posted by: matlabfreak | Jan 23, 2009 6:48:58 AM

It's interesing and a hopeful sign that both Pres. Obama and envoy Mitchel said as much in their comments at the US state dept press conference on Thursday.
Who knows, things may be moving forward.

Posted by: Delmar Bogner | Jan 23, 2009 8:58:45 AM

That Hamas were once again liars about the actual, factual numbers of dead people really is not a surprise, is it. I mean, come on...

But oh yes, it's much more effective to bash Israelis for answering the Ministry of Immigration Office's call to join hasbara efforts.

Posted by: a. | Jan 23, 2009 4:06:08 PM

Grazie al "reader" per quest'articolo!
Someone wants a translation into English? It's a good read.

Posted by: a. | Jan 23, 2009 4:11:58 PM

Dear Treppenwitz, This is not a comment on the post, but I just wanted to send you a link to a wonderful article I just read by Dr Jonathan Sachs. I thought your readers may be interested too.

www.thejc.com/articles/together-we-are-world’s-voice-hope

Posted by: Noa | Jan 23, 2009 9:28:39 PM

This women's lib is a nightmare.

Posted by: Mongrel | Jan 24, 2009 10:54:25 AM

@a: Da niente :)

Posted by: reader | Jan 24, 2009 2:58:02 PM

If the lower IDF estimate of 450+25% civilians are correct,you do reach 600.With some still beneath colapsed buildings,600-700 sounds right.My only sympathy is for the children who suffer because of evil and stupid adults.

Posted by: Ed | Jan 24, 2009 6:50:12 PM

Ahhhhh, targeting civilians....

Evil, I agree.

But my country did it in World War Two and killed hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of innocent civilians, directly and purposely.

It's true, we've moved on since then and spent vast sums on precision weaponry.

But we also have nuclear weapons intended to be used against cities.

So does Israel.

In a pinch, are we sure we wouldn't outdo Hamas and Hezbollah in savagery?

Posted by: Jeff | Jan 24, 2009 10:54:03 PM

I don't think she got a call, I think she made the call after she heard the boom.

My question is: don't you think it's strange that a reporter has access to Hamas officials who can confirm whether missiles were shot from her building?!?!

Posted by: Rivka with a capital A | Jan 25, 2009 1:17:34 AM

Ed - the IDF only has 'confirmed' hits on somewhere around 450 Hamas members, but they were pretty sure that at least 600 or more Hamas members had been killed. Even assuming their lower estimates of 25% casualties (which were largely before the army started moving into the city, causing a lot more civilian casualties), we're looking at 800+.

In fact, many media outlets argue that Hamas has deliberately been keeping its wounded and dead out of Palestinian hospitals in order to make the civilian/combatant ratio look worse and conceal the extent of their casualties. This would jive with a lower number of dead who actually made it through the hospitals.

...just saying. 600 as a maximum number is highly unlikely.

Posted by: matlabfreak | Jan 25, 2009 8:36:11 AM

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