Sunday, March 15, 2015

Recently, Richard Behar and Gary Weiss wrote a masterly destruction of an AP investigation showing how many mistakes and violations of journalistic ethics could be found in an article.

"The New York-based news agency examined 247 airstrikes on homes—interviewing witnesses, visiting attack sites and compiling a detailed casualty count. Its probe determined that out of 844 dead from those strikes, 508 (or just over 60 percent) were children, women and older men, 'all presumed to be civilians.'"

This is very similar to an Amnesty report on Israeli airstrikes of houses that I addressed here.

The organization that decided to do this type of analysis originally is B'Tselem, which even during the war started compiling lists of houses that had been hit by Israel and their casualties.

There is an additional problem with all of these "investigations" - they consciously exclude airstrikes on homes that the NGOs know were being used to shield fighters.

If you only count houses that used women and children as human shields, yes, it will appear that Israel showed disregard for the lives women and children (which is not by itself proof of violations of international law, as I have shown in my Amnesty piece.)

B'Tselem has the most comprehensive list of family homes hit by Israel published (AP did not expose its full list.) Yet one obvious family house is not listed: the home of the Al Skafi family of Shujaiyya.

I already mentioned that two of the al-Skafis were 17 or 18-year old twins who were proud members of Islamic Jihad.

But most of the other victims of that airstrike were also terrorists.

Abdel Skafi:

Ahmed Skafi, in front of the Hamas flag:

Mujahid al Skafi, in his martyrdom video:

Now, it is true that their 63-year old father Akram was killed along with this jihadist family. Presumably he was not an active militant.

But AP, B'Tselem and Amnesty did not bother to list the al-Skafi family house as one of those that were targeted by Israel, because counting that house - and who knows how many others - would reduce their ratio of civilians to terrorists killed by Israel.

In other words, these organizations cooked the books to make Israel look bad.

It is inconceivable that all three are not aware of the al-Skafi home - it was prominently mentioned in "Humanize Palestine" and other sites that list the dead.

Yet since it was obvious to these organizations that the al-Skafi family home was mostly inhabited by fighters, that house is excluded from these supposedly objective analyses.

How many other such houses filled with jihadists from the same family were excluded?

All of the other criticisms of these reports still apply, of course, Without these organizations knowing what the targets were, they cannot know whether the IDF commanders who ordered the strikes violated the primciples of distinction and proportionality, and any assumptions of those violations based on the proportion of civilians killed are inherently flawed.

But the Al Skafi home proves that the entire purpose of this "research" is not to calculate how effective the IDF was, but rather to cherry-pick the examples that they believe prove their point.

It is lying with statistics, and it is reprehensible.

(h/t Thomas Wictor)


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