The Independent Uses Casualty Figures as a Moral Barometer

The conviction of IDF soldier Elor Azaria to 18 months in jail sentence for the manslaughter of a neutralized Palestinian terrorist has quite rightly raised serious legal and ethical issues within Israel.

The Independent‘s report on Azaria’s appeal against his prison sentence, however, includes a visual that strips these issues down in the most simplistic and crude way.

In the center of the story is an interactive graph comparing Israeli and Palestinian casualty figures as supplied by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).



What’s missing, however, is any context whatsoever.

All that we can see is that more Palestinians have died than Israelis. Stripped of context, the only thing that the casual reader will conclude is that Israel is the aggressor. This is particularly prominent on the bar illustrating 2014, a year which included the Gaza War.

Of those Palestinian deaths, we do not know what number were active combatants. Indeed, we do not know from the graph that there was a war at all. Instead, readers will not know that:

  • The war was a result of Hamas rockets from Gaza and the kidnapping of three Israeli teens.
  • They will not know that Hamas embedded itself in the civilian population leading to higher numbers of civilian deaths.
  • They will also be unaware of Israel’s enormous efforts to prevent loss of innocent lives.
  • And the reason for the lower Israeli casualty figures? Simply that Israel goes to great lengths to protect its people.

But none of these relevant details will appear because this graph has been placed in a random fashion in The Independent’s story.

As for the numbers for the years 2015 and 2016, the majority of those Palestinians were killed while perpetrating acts of terror and violence or in confrontations with Israeli forces.

As we’ve previously noted, ultimately, the numbers fail to show what’s really important – that Israel is facing a relentless wave of Palestinian terror. The moral high ground does not belong to the side that loses more people, if those people are killed trying to murder innocent civilians. The media has a responsibility to present the situation as it really is. And the raw numbers of people killed create a distorted picture, something that The Independent has actively set out to create.

You can see more here on Lack of Context.


You can send your considered comments to The Independent through its online complaint form –


Featured image uses elements of: CC BY-SA Martin Fisch via flickr with additions by HonestReporting

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