The UN Quietly Admits It Exaggerated Civilian Casualties in Gaza

Reports in the Western media on the war in Gaza have routinely cited the casualty figures provide by Hamas, regardless of the growing evidence of their unreliability. Journalists and opinion writers have even adduced various arguments in favor of believing these numbers. Among these dubious proofs was that the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Activities (OCHA) and other UN agencies relied on them.

But sometime between May 6 and May 8, OCHA, without explanation, revised its figures, cutting the numbers of women and children killed by nearly 50 percent. Elliott Abrams comments:

The Hamas figures are not credible, and if OCHA has finally recognized this it is a positive step. But it ought to be acknowledged openly, not slipped into a longer report. OCHA is still using Hamas figures (i.e., those of the Gaza Ministry of Health) in giving total numbers for those killed, and should reflect on whether those numbers are any more reliable when they emerge from the same source: Hamas.

It is obvious that this war is a calamity for Gaza civilians and that thousands are dead and more are wounded. Hamas planned the war this way, placing its military resources in homes, schools, mosques, and hospitals and thus ensuring that once it started a war civilians would suffer greatly.

Hamas wants the world to believe that the main casualties and fatalities have been women and children, an argument almost universally accepted until very recently. Now even the UN, or one part of the UN, silently acknowledges that it blindly accepted Hamas numbers meant to mislead. Others who accepted the Hamas propaganda should do likewise, and all have an obligation to come clean—not least the media in the United States and elsewhere.

I await the stories in the New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR reporting on this, but the wait may be a long one.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, United Nations

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict