The following letter about Hezbollah’s misrepresentation of civilian casualties during the Hezbollah/Israel war in Lebanon was published in the Washington Times on December 13, 2006:
The brief item “Report: Hezbollah used human shields” (Briefing/Middle East, Dec. 6) says a study by “an Isaeli think tank with ties to the military has compiled a dossier of video and testimony accusing Lebanese guerrillas of using civilians as human shields in their summer war with Israel.” The item separately claims that “Israeli aircraft and artillery killed more than 850 Lebanese, most of them civilians, during the 34-day conflict with Hezbollah guerrillas” and notes that “Lebanon, a U.N. human rights agency and international rights groups have accused Israel of war crimes.”
However, the news brief does not include what Associated Press said on the same day about the same study by the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center: “The 300-page report … argues that Lebanese government and news media reports exaggerated the number of civilians killed in Lebanon … The report, citing Israeli military intelligence, says at least 450 and as many as 650 of the Lebanese killed were Hezbollah operatives.”
It may well have been in last summer’s war between Hezbollah and Israel that the majority of Lebanese killed were not civilians but Hezbollah combatants illegally hiding among civilians. Strange, for a newspaper whose Arab-Israeli coverage usually displays better balance, but the brief reads as if it were edited from wire service copy so readers would not learn about of one of the study’s key points, one that contradicts Hezbollah’s assiduous media manipulation.
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
For more on the topic, see CAMERA’s analysis of civilian casualties.