Amid controversy over the number of Palestinian civilians killed and wounded during Operation Cast Lead against Hamas last month, the United Nations is working on compiling its own report to determine the exact figure.Isn't it amazing that uncritical belief in bogus statistics takes no time at all, while doing actual research takes months?
Work on the UN figures is being led by the office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO).
UN officials said Monday that researchers were scouring data on the number of casualties provided by the Palestinian Health Ministry, the IDF and Gaza-based human rights organizations. The work is complicated and will last several weeks, if not months, one official said.
Even so, the UNRWA has already told me that they stand by their figures of 30 killed initially at the UN school, without being able to tell me how they came up with that number.
"It [the IDF report] prompts inquiries," a UN official said. "The UN is researching from various sources the number of casualties to gain clarity on the number of people who were killed in the conflict."Yet if the IDF hadn't done some research, the chances that the UN would have cared to check is somewhere between zero and none.
Defense sources also reiterated their earlier claim that three civilians and some nine terror operatives were killed in an IDF shelling near a UN school in Jabalya in early January, and not 40 or more people as was widely reported at the time based on Palestinian claims.It would take guts for the IDF to make such a claim if there were really 30-40 dead, and their credibility would take a huge hit if they were found to be wrong. Unfortunately, one cannot say the same for the Palestinian Arab side - although their credibility for casualties has been nil for years, the press is always eager to report their accusations as facts.
A New York Times report from the Gaza funeral after the incident stated that "the row of bodies [were] uncountable in the press of the mourning crowd" and cited reports that as many as 40 people were killed in the shelling outside the school. It said Palestinian hospital sources reported that 10 of the dead were children and five were women, and quoted one mourner who said she had lost nine members of her extended family, age three to 25.
The defense sources Monday said that the IDF had studied the incident and was adamant that its figures were correct.