By J. Levitt
Data published by Al Jazeera on Monday shows that in its ongoing operation in Gaza Israel killed mainly combatant-age males, not women or children, according to CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, contradicting media reports that tried to paint Israel’s Operation Protective Edge as indiscriminately killing civilians.
In a study published on Monday, CAMERA said that a close read of the data”shows that, as in past hostilities, the fatalities are disproportionately [compared to the overall population] among young males, which corresponds with the characteristics of combatants. Males over 40 years old are also disproportionately represented. Some of the fatalities in those over 40 years of age likely represent senior members of terrorist organizations.”
CAMERA based its conclusions on comparing the data of 150 men and 20 women reported to have been killed to the broader population make up in Gaza, where men and woman each account for 50 per cent of the population and the median age is 15 years old.
“Notably, only about 12 percent of the total fatalities are female, though females make up half the population,” CAMERA said. “Also, the median age of Gazans is reported to be around 15. Males under 15 make up just 13 percent of the total fatalities even though they represent half of all males in the Gaza Strip.”
CAMERA graphed a breakdown of the 150 reported male fatalities, excluding 19 whose ages were not listed, though the group noted that one of those was described as a member of Islamic Jihad. Due to space constraints, it also excluded three deaths of males over 65, with a total of 128 on the chart.
The chart shows that 83 deaths were of men between the ages of 16 and 39, 28 were men over 40 years old and 20 were under 16 years old.
CAMERA also noted that the “information provided by Qatar-owned Al Jazeera should not be accepted at face value, as the emirate has close ties to the Hamas-led Gazan government,” and said it would update its analysis as more data was released.
The group concluded that the analysis bore out is conclusion: “Media coverage often parrots the line fed by Gazan authorities that ‘most of the casualties are civilians’ despite the well-established propensity of Gazan authorities to exaggerate the proportion of civilian casualties.”
The conflict has also been characterized as a “media war,” where Hamas supporters have flooded social media channels with photos of gruesome deaths, often from the ongoing Syria conflict in 2012, to elicit more sympathy for their cause.