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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

B'Tselem's methodology even worse than previously reported


The Jerusalem Post reports:
Two organizations in Israel have cautioned against accepting casualty figures coming out of Gaza.

Both the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Center and NGO watchdog organization NGO Monitor this week criticized the verification methods of the left-wing human rights group B’Tselem – The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories - for its claims of Gaza casualty numbers that were recently released for Operation Protective Edge.

...In an email to the Post on Sunday, Roy Yellin, a spokesman for B’Tselem, sharply rejected the findings of the NGO Monitor report.

”B’Tselem is dedicated to provide accurate information, and therefore investigates and verifies any data independently, never relying solely on official sources neither in Israel or on the Palestinian side,” he said.

“B’Tselem does have field researchers on the ground in Gaza and has the professional capacity and evidence to support its publications.

For example, the difference in the death toll figures between B’Tselem and Palestinian Ministry of Health report is due to our strict verification measures,” he added.
I've reported on how B'Tselem determines whether people are civilian or terrorist by asking their families and trusting their answers, making the absurd assumption that Gazans who have been specifically instructed to lie to Western officials are telling the truth to B'Tselem.

B'Tselem itself admits that usually these questions are usually answered on the phone!
With the current military campaign ongoing, B’Tselem is taking testimony from Gaza residents, mainly by telephone. B’Tselem verifies, to the best of its ability, the reliability and precision of the information reported; nevertheless, in these circumstances, reports may be incomplete or contain errors. Given the urgency of informing the public about events in Gaza, B’Tselem has decided to publish the information now available. When the military campaign ends, B’Tselem will supplement these reports as needed.
Even B'Tselem admits that its verification measures aren't "strict" as its spokesperson falsely claimed. At the same time, it admits that it would prefer to release terrorist propaganda about civilian casualties (after a perfunctory "verification") rather than wait and do the job right.

Because vilifying the IDF is an urgent matter that simply cannot wait.

If and when B'Tselem finds out that their error rate approaches, say, 50%, they will bury it in a report nine months from now that would get no coverage. Because the truth isn't as "urgent" as publicizing the lies today. After all, B'Tselem's funding is dependent on generating headlines, and no Western organizations will fund B'Tselem if it insisted on taking the time necessary to do a proper verification..

(h/t NGO Monitor)