The United Nations has announced that the Gaza casualty figures it has been using are bogus and it is adjusting its figures downward.

“The revisions are taken … you know, of course, in the fog of war, it’s difficult to come up with numbers,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq said at a press briefing in response to a question from JNS. “We get numbers from different sources on the ground, and then we try to cross check them. As we cross check them, we update the numbers, and we’ll continue to do that as that progresses.”

Ah yes, the fog of war. In fact, the change is due to the fact that the UN has decided to report only “identified” casualties and exclude “unidentified” casualties. Because Hamas uses media reports—itself a gauzy category which includes Hamas-aligned press fronts—to add to its “unidentified” category, there is no excuse for reporting those in the “unidentified” category at all.

If only there’d been a way to know not to trust the numbers coming directly from Hamas.

And what are those numbers? Now the UN says about half of its original estimate of women and of children can be disregarded, bringing those totals to about 7,800 and 5,000 respectively. That brings the total number of Palestinian fatalities down by over 11,000, nearly a third of the commonly reported total.

And that’s not all. The Palestinian statistical agencies are famous for using “under 20” as their marker for separating children and adults. That means among the “children” are likely a number of 18- and 19-year-olds (i.e. not children). Additionally, we know the IDF encounters 16- and 17-year-old militants in the field, meaning a chunk of the “children” are actually combatants. And of course Hamas makes no distinction between combatants and civilians when counting the casualties.

It’s possible, then—perhaps even likely—that the IDF has achieved a civilian-to-combatant casualty ratio of around 1.5-1, an unheard-of level of precision and civilian protection in urban warfare.

If that’s the case, it should cause the Biden administration to rethink its hypercritical posture toward Israel. Except—and here’s the bad news—the Biden administration already knew this information. Again: The missing 11,000 or so casualties were largely based, according to Hamas, on media reporting. In other words, rumor—not unidentified corpses. This was not a secret. The Biden administration and the UN were both well aware of Hamas’s method of fabrication. Which means President Biden has been knowingly using false numbers to crucify Israel in the court of public opinion and to justify withholding weapons from our ally during wartime.

Now, some of those in the “unidentified” category may be real, and if so, those numbers will be adjusted postwar. But that overall number should never have been reported in the first place. In fact, for reasons mentioned above, even the “identified” category is unreliable and padded with an assortment of false reporting. As Josh Zumbrun has written in the Wall Street Journal, “researchers sometimes estimate the percentage of a population that died in a war by asking people afterward how many siblings they had and whether any died in the war. On average this method finds nearly three times as many victims as verified lists do, according to a 2008 study in BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal, which compared data from both methods over 50 years.”

The fog of war is no excuse to use unethical counting methods. And it is no excuse to lie.

Does anyone feel guilty for what they’ve done here? We’re left with a circus-like cycle of duplicity: Hamas puts out fake numbers, the White House promotes those fabrications, which fuels street protests, which the president uses as an excuse to shift policy against Israel, which incentivizes Hamas to publish more fake numbers, etc. Around and around the blood-libel Ferris Wheel we go.

Something in the machinery of the White House has come loose. The whole edifice most closely resembles the Boeing planes with faulty bolts that just started falling apart mid-flight. Instead of bringing calm, the Biden team increasingly brings chaos—and seems unwilling or unable to act responsibly. The media that report the Hamas numbers are complicit in transforming America into an erratic actor on the world stage.

All of this is now undeniable. The only question left is what Joe Biden is going to do about it.

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