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Middle East Issues





Aid Group Partially Corrects Error-Ridden Huffington Post Op-Ed


In response to communication from CAMERA's Israel office, American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) has corrected some of the misinformation about the Gaza Strip that appeared in an error-ridden Huffington Post Op-Ed last week by Hani Almadhoun, the organization's director of donor development ("Scenes from the Tragic and Painful Fall of Gaza").
 
As CAMERA noted Thursday, the senior official of the aid organization erred by a factor of 35 on the number of trucks laden with aid entering the Gaza Strip. He had stated:
According to one report, there are 75 percent fewer trucks bringing food and other supplies into Gaza. That's 2,000 truckloads this year versus 8,000 in the same period of the previous year. This is an indicator of two things: a drop in demand due to a reduced amount of aid, and tougher economic sanctions.

In fact, as demonstrated by the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the first six months of this year, 69,286 trucks crossed into Gaza, not including those trucks carrying fuel. June saw the fewest number of trucks crossing the first half of this year – and there were 7,226 trucks that month, or nearly four times the amount that Almadhoun claimed crossed for six months in 2017.
 
Following communication from CAMERA, ANERA deleted the false figure regarding the number of trucks.
 
In a second error, Almadhoun had erroneously stated that "80 percent of Gazans live under the poverty line."
 

 
In fact, the real figure is just have that: according to the United Nations, in the past few years, Gaza's "poverty has stabilized at around 40%." The latest figure cited by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (Palestine in Figures 2016, March 2017), for 2011, is 38.8 percent. 
 
Following a Twitter exchange between CAMERA and ANERA, the aid group fixed the figure, which now refers to "nearly 40 percent."
 

Inexplicably, though, elsewhere the article still contradicts itself about the poverty rate, claiming that 55 percent of Gazans live in "extreme poverty." CAMERA has asked for clarification from ANERA on this point.
 

 
Contrary to standard journalistic practice, neither the Huffington Post nor ANERA notified readers about the two changes. Moreover, much misinformation about aid and conditions in the Gaza Strip still remain in the article.
 
For instance, Almadhoun had claimed (see screen capture above) that "four million tons of cement was needed to rebuild war-destroyed buildings, but only 33 percent of what's needed has made it into Gaza." In fact, according to a United Nations report from this past July ("Gaza Ten Years Later," page 11):
The [Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism] has facilitated import of 2.3 million tons of construction material (cement, aggregate and re-bar), including 1.6 million tons of cement for reconstruction as well as new construction for development agencies and the private sector. (Emphasis added.)
The U.N. report does not indicate the total number of tons of cement needed for Gaza's reconstruction, but if Almadhoun is right about the need for four million tons (he did not provide a source), then 40 percent of that amount has reached the territory – not 33 percent. According to the Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights, though, a total of approximately 3.17 million tons is needed for reconstruction. Based on that total, over 50 percent of the required amount has already reached the territory. Either way, Almadhoun's figures once again do not add up.
 
Additional outstanding error previously detailed in CAMERA's earlier report is an outdated 2016 figure for the reconstruction of Gaza homes, passed off as current data from this year. Almadhoun deceived: "If that does not worry you, how about the fact that as of this year, 74 percent of homes destroyed in the 2014 war have not been rebuilt and are still in ruins."
 
Almadhoun links to a secondary source, which links to a United Nations OCHA report from January 2016, not from this year.
 
The most current OCHA report to address the number of destroyed homes rebuilt is from April of this year. It states:
Despite significant progress in reconstruction, 7,700 Palestinian families, or about 40,000 people whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged during the 2014 hostilities, were still displaced in February 2017, down from over 16,000 families at the start of 2015. The greatest concern is for approximately 4,000 of these families who have not been allocated any funding for reconstruction and see no end in sight to their displacement.
In other words, as of five months ago, 54 percent of the 17,800 homes destroyed or severely damaged in 2014 have been rebuilt. In addition, the reconstruction of another 14 percent of the 17,800 homes was in progress, as of five months ago.
 
Other outstanding errors which CAMERA flagged last week include the claim that the United Nations deemed Gaza "uninhabitable" and that "a polluted beach that up until recently was the only recreation" for Gazans, as if completely broke people cannot engage in backgammon, soccer, singing, parkour, kite-flying, and more.
 
For additional Huffington Post corrections prompted by CAMERA, please see here.

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