The article also has this precious line: “News reports generally rely on the United Nations’ estimate of civilians killed [in fact, as noted below, they, including the Times, often rely on the Ministry of Health, controlled by Hamas]. Matthias Behnke, a United Nations official, said those numbers came from cross-referencing research by several human rights groups, though he declined to say how many, which ones or what methods they used”–which didn’t stop reporters around the world from simply accepting them, despite the fact that UN officials in Gaza are utterly dependent on Hamas for their well-being and security, and tend in any event to be hostile to Israel.
The Times itself has had an interesting history of its reporting on casualties. For the first couple weeks of the war, it referred to “X deaths in Gaza, most of them civilians.” It then switched to “X deaths in Gaza, most of them civilians, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health,” without making it clear that the Ministry is controlled by Hamas. In the last ten days or so, perhaps responding to accumulating doubts about the casualty figures, the Times has been much more reticent about describing Gazan casualties.
FOOTNOTE: The unreliability of the statistics coming out of Gaza not only hasn’t stopped the media from relying on them, it also, not surprisingly, hasn’t stopped Ken Roth, chairman of Human Rights Watch, who, again not surprisingly, credits figures coming out of both the UN and unnamed “rights groups” but doesn’t even mention Israeli military estimates, for which the IDF claims documentation, that about half the casualties have been Hamas fighters. But Roth has long argued that information from Israel or its supporters is all “lies and deception” meant to undermine objective human rights reporting from HRW (something I can type, but not say, with a straight face).
UPDATE: The BBC, which typically accepts Palestinian and UN propaganda as fact, suddenly expresses skepticism: “if the Israeli attacks have been ‘indiscriminate’, as the UN Human Rights Council says, it is hard to work out why they have killed so many more civilian men than women….In conclusion, we do not yet know for sure how many of the dead in Gaza are civilians and how many were fighters.” So when are media outlets worldwide going to issue a public apology for parroting propaganda about civilian casualties without undertaking independent investigation?