Saturday, March 14, 2009

The number’s improbable accusation.

With damming titles and wording the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) published its finding regarding the death toll among Palestinians in Gaza during ‘Operation Cast Lead.’

Published in Reuters on the 12th of March, they claim that the IDF used indiscriminate fire against civilians. But their own figures, which are questionable, since they are not exactly neutrals, make that accusation improbable.

These are PCHR figures: 1,434 people killed, from them 960 civilians, 239 police officers and 235 fighters, 288 children and 121 women.
Sounds damming isn’t it? But look at what is missing, the numbers of men killed and age and gender distribution among the children.
It is easy to find how many grown male civilians were killed, 551. Problem, if the fire was indiscriminate why the number of men killed tops that of women and children put together?
Shouldn’t the figures be close?
In the heat of battle it is easier to confuse unarmed men with armed men.
The same goes with the children categories. Grown boys, 15 and above are more likely to be confused with young adults then children under 10 or girls.

If it turns out that the figure of boys above 14 killed in ‘Cast Lead’ is disproportionally high then that of girls at that age range and boys and girls at younger ages then we have a pattern that shows that the IDF did try to avoid killing civilians or else why would the categories more likely to be confused with armed combatant will be so highly represented.

But we don’t have those figures, so we don’t have that pattern. We don’t have that pattern because we have another pattern PCHR ARE NOT PUBLISHING ALL THEIR FIGURES. And that downs the credibility and probability of their accusations.

And another improbability undermines PCHR accusations:

All Palestinians killed in ‘Cast Lead’ where killed by the IDF?
Not a single Palestinian killed by misdirected fire from Palestinian gunmen?
Does that sound probable to anyone?

It’s not; an argument claiming otherwise will have to twist logic and facts in a truly twisted manner.

It is really very simple, in a combat situation, with thousands of heavily armed troops on booth sides. All the accidents of war, misdirected fire, stray bullets and shells, mistaken identity, friendly fire incidents, and more, are equally likely to occur on both sides. The only way to know for sure is figures; figures, figures, figures. And accusations with partial figures are the same as accusations with no figures – baseless accusations.

All PCHR can claim responsibly is that 960 civilians were killed in Gaza during operation ‘Cast Lead’. By whom? That will have to be discovered by studying each and every incident. And once that is done I’m sure there will plenty of guilt on the Palestinian side. And I’m not saying that out my high confidence in the morality of the Israeli army this is simply the nature of war.

This how ever doesn’t exonerate the IDF from those accusations. It does put the ball back and PCHR court, challenging them to either, publish all their figures, change their figures, or remove/rephrase their accusations.

Until then these accusations are baseless and improbable.

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