UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

BBC Overestimates Number of Civilians killed by Israel

Jeremy Bowen has overestimated the number of Palestinian civilians killed by Israel in an article on the BBC website, according to UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI). 

Jonathan Turner, chief executive of UKLFI, has complained to the BBC that Bowen’s article, titled “Five New realities after four weeks of Israel-Gaza war” and posted on 3 November 2023, includes an inaccurate and biased discussion of Palestinian casualties.

Jeremy Bowen states that “Some of the Palestinian dead would have been part of Hamas. But even if that proportion is as high as 10%, which is unlikely, it means that Israel is on course to have killed as many Palestinian civilians in just over a month as Russia has killed in Ukraine since February 2022.”

 The complaint explains that Bowen is wrong to suppose that the proportion of Palestinians killed that were terrorists is unlikely to be as high as 10%, and that he is also wrong to assume that all of the Palestinian that were killed were killed by Israel, ignoring the evidence that many Palestinian rockets fall short and kill Palestinian civilians.

The complaint points out that there is substantial evidence that at least 50% of those killed during previous Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip were terrorists.

Figures provided by hospitals in Gaza of the number of terrorists killed are inherently unreliable even without taking into account the control by Hamas of the Health Ministry and Gaza generally. Hamas operatives do not wear uniforms except when they are on parade, so when a casualty arrives at a hospital, its staff generally have no ready means of knowing whether it is a terrorist or not.

In addition, Bowen overlooks the following points:

(1) A “child” is not necessarily a civilian, since Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organisations recruit operatives under 18.

(2) Some of the terrorists are not Hamas.

(3) Some women are engaged in terrorist activity, even if this is only a small proportion.

(4) Some of the civilians are likely to have been killed by Palestinian rockets or other ordnance. 

Jonathan Turner commented:  “It is not clear how Bowen made the assumptions in his article, but they seem to indicate ignorance of careful studies that have been made of casualties in previous Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip.”

 Thanks to David Litman of CAMERA for analysis of evidence relating to Palestinians killed during Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip.