Friday, July 14, 2023

UN-OCHA moving the goalposts to make Israel look bad

The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the Palestinian territories comes out with a report every month about imports, exports, entrances and exits from Gaza. 

In its report on June, it says:

In June, the Israeli authorities allowed 42,220 exits of people from Gaza (in most cases, travelers exited multiple times). This is 13 per cent higher than the exits in May, and 19 per cent higher than the monthly average in 2022. However, it is 92 per cent lower than the monthly average in 2000, before the imposition of category-based restrictions by the Israeli authorities. 
They are comparing the number of exits with 2000 - when thousands of Israelis still lived in Gaza and traveled freely in and out every day? Before the second intifada when checkpoints needed to be enforced? Of course the number of exits will never be nearly as high as in 2000; the borders were porous then. 

If they were to compare with any previous year, they should - and normally do - compare it to the time between Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, and when Israel started restrictions on Gaza after Hamas violently took over the territory in 2007. Otherwise it is comparing apples to oranges. 

So let's look at previous UN charts.

Here's a UN chart from 2016 that was already deceptive: starting in 2004 when Israelis left Gaza so part of the year there were many, many more exits; and showing that in March 2006 Israel started its restrictions on Gaza workers. So if there is any year that the UN should compare against, it is 2005. 

In 2005, the monthly average of exits was 31,424. Today, it is significantly higher - as mentioned, over 42,000 last month, and in fact earlier this year it surpassed 50,000 some months.

The headline should be that Israel now allows more freedom of movement for Gazans than at any time since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. But the UN cannot have a headline that makes Israel look good, can it? So instead of comparing to 2004 or 2005, as it always did before now, it makes up a new benchmark: 2000, a completely artificial and irrelevant date.

Here is UN-OCHA's new chart where they, for the first time, added the year 2000 with its "0.5 million" figure  - just to minimize how much Israel is doing to make Gazan's lives easier.

This is lying with statistics. 

(correction on years h/t Irene)

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