New York Times News Article Faults Israel for ‘High Civilian Death Toll’ in Gaza

A taxi passes by in front of The New York Times head office, Feb. 7, 2013. Photo: Reuters / Carlo Allegri / File.

A top-of-the-front page New York Times news article makes reference to what the article calls “the high civilian death toll” in Gaza.

“The high civilian death toll and damage to civilian infrastructure have raised questions about Israel’s adherence to the international laws of war, which bar the targeting of purely civilian sites and limit acceptable collateral damage to that which is proportionate to any military advantage,” the Times article says.

The article, without attributing a source, says “at least 213 Palestinians have been killed.” An accompanying infographic attributes the numbers to “local health authorities,” which in Gaza are controlled by the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorist group implacably dedicated to Israel’s eradication.

How many of those 213 are civilians? A former ambassador of Israel to the United States, Michael Oren, tweeted in response to a similar claim: “most of the 200 were terrorists. Welcome to the new moral universe where terrorists are as innocent as the kids they use as human shields.”

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Some of those killed in Gaza were the victims not of Israel’s “possible war crimes,” as Nicholas Kristof speculated in a possibly irresponsible column, but rather of errant Hamas rockets, misfires aimed at Israel that wind up killing Palestinians.

When Iran last year shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing 176 people, the Times simply reported the number of fatalities, without passing judgment on whether the death toll was “high” or low. Whatever number of civilians Israel kills, the Times thinks it’s high. Whatever number of civilians Iran kills, the Times gives Iran a pass and editorializes in favor of sanctions relief that would give the terror-sponsoring Iranian regime hundreds of billions of dollars more to spend on killing Jews.

The front page Times news article about the “high civilian death toll” also reported, “Rocket fire from Palestinian militants has also harmed Israeli infrastructure, damaging a gas pipeline and pausing operations at a gas rig and at two major Israeli airports. But the damage was incomparable to that in Gaza.” Who is to say whether it is or isn’t comparable? That’s opinion, like whether the number of civilian casualties is high or low. One might compare it and claim the damage in Gaza was worse, but it’s overstating it to declare it incomparable.

The lead sentence of the New York Times article reports that the war “has damaged 17 hospitals and clinics in Gaza” and that “dozens of schools have been damaged.” Missing is any context like that of a 2014 Washington Post article headlined “Why Hamas stores its weapons inside hospitals, mosques and schools.” Why? Because the terrorist organization’s decision to do so — and to use civilians as shields — is often rewarded, as in this case, as a propaganda victory by the New York Times.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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