Wednesday, October 04, 2006

CAMERA: Lebanon Casualty Figures Flawed

CAMERA, which is a great media watchdog organization, has a fascinating analyses of how the media reported the casualties from the recent Israel - Hezbollah war. Throughout the conflict the claims of casualties on both sides were radically different. Hezbollah has reported it lost approximately 80 fighters, while Israel is simultaneously claiming it killed 600 fighters.

This issue is too important to be given a cursory examination, which is what most of the media has done. CAMERA's breakdown points out some of the most blatant inconsistencies in the media's coverage of the issue, and sheds some light on what the real picture may look like.

Right now there are way too many people who think that Israel simply bombed Lebanon into the stone-age and yet couldn't manage to weaken Hezbollah in any way. This false perception is dangerous not because of the damage it does to Israel's reputation, but rather because it allows a false picture of a critically important world conflict to masquerade as the truth.

Excerpts from CAMERA's report:

Regardless, the accumulated evidence from various sources exposes as a deception Hezbollah’s claims to have lost 68 or 74 fighters .

Israel’s claim to have killed 500-600 Hezbollah fighters, meanwhile, is buttressed by the government’s partial list of names of Hezbollah fighters who died through Aug. 6, and is corroborated in some media reports.

These different assessments suggest that Hezbollah losses may have been comparable in number to the civilian losses in Lebanon. Allegations by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International–organizations often criticized for their disproportionate and deceptive focus on Israel–that Israel used indiscriminate force and even targeted civilians should be viewed warily in light of this evidence. And when casualty figures and breakdowns cited by news organizations are based on figures supplied by Hezbollah, Lebanese officials, or Israeli officials, those claims should be meticulously investigated for inconsistencies, and should not be reported as accepted fact.

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