On Gaza, UN's "62 Civilian Casualties" Misstatement Goes
Global, On Wires, Wall Street and Sky News
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
December 30 -- A number of
killed in Gaza, 62, that the UN put out on Monday and then later
qualified has nevertheless gone all over the world without the
attached, thus understating the deaths of non-combatants. UN
Coorindator John Holmes on Monday told the Press that "on the
side, there's something like 320 dead... sixty two of those killed we
are civilian casualties." Video here,
from Minute 7:50. Holmes went on,
"that simply encompasses those who are women and children."
Press asked Holmes, who made the decision to use a methodology which
all men? Holmes replied that it is not a methodology, and emphasized
number is only for women and children. Video here,
from Minute 48:34.
the phrase "62 of those killed
we believe are civilian casualties," which Holmes himself read out from
prepared statement, went out on wire services, leavened by what
Press reported that "the UN said at least 62 of the dead were
civilians." The same phrase then showed up in an article
in the Washington Times bylined by Richard Gross, "At least 62 of
the dead were civilians, the U.N. said."
followed in what they called a "Fact Box" that "the Israeli strikes
have killed at least 335 Palestinians, including at least 62 civilians."
Wall Street Journal dropped the phrase "at least" and reported on
"casualties, which United Nations estimated Monday at 320 dead,
including 62 civilians." From there it continued, from Sky
News to Radio
Netherlands, from India to Turkey
So who is responsible? And
what will be done to correct this?
UN's John Holmes and Ban Ki-moon,
decision-making on casualty under-reporting not disclosed
While the UN
might like to blame sloppy reporting, Holmes used the phrase "sixty two of those killed we believe
are civilian casualties." Tuesday, after the UN postponed and then
cancelled a scheduled press conference by its Middle East envoy Robert
Serry, Inner City Press asked for another briefing by Holmes and Karen
AbuZayd of UNRWA, on topics specifically including the numbers and how
the decisions were made. We'll see.
reported, Israel's UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev on December 23 met
with Ban Ki-moon. Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson
at that day's noon briefing, what the meeting had been about. That the expiration of the cease fire in Gaza
would have been discussed seemed obvious. The question was intended to
whether any statement as to timing had been made by the Israeli
"We'll get you a readout," Ms. Okabe said. Video here.
December 23, Ban's Spokesperson's Office sent Inner City Press the
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 12/23/2008 3:31:10 P.M.
Eastern Standard Time
Subj: Your question at noon
Regarding the Secretary-General's
meeting with the Israeli Permanent Representative today, it was purely
"Purely a courtesy call"? That is the phrase used
diplomats who are leaving the UN visit the 38th floor for a final photo
opportunity with the Secretary-General. We'll see.
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
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City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
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Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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