AFP Revises History of 2006 Israel-Lebanon War

January 30th, 2008 11:38 AM

In an article previewing the possible damage to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as a result of the Winograd Report into Israel's 34-day war with Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, AFP's Ron Bousso echoes a questionable claim about the 2006 Israeli War against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon:

It is expected to focus on Olmert's controversial decision to order a massive ground offensive in south Lebanon 60 hours before a UN-brokered ceasefire agreement was due to take effect on August 14.

Thirty-three Israeli soldiers were killed in the offensive launched just one hour after the final version of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 was presented to Israel.

Major Tomer Buhadana was one of those wounded during the last 48 hours of war, which in all killed 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

The Lebanese killed were "mostly civilians?"

The Daily Telegraph noted during the conflict:

Although Hizbollah has refused to make public the extent of the casualties it has suffered, Lebanese officials estimate that up to 500 fighters have been killed in the past three weeks of hostilities with Israel, and another 1,500 injured.

Lebanese officials have also disclosed that many of Hizbollah's wounded are being treated in hospitals in Syria to conceal the true extent of the casualties. They are said to have been taken through al-Arissa border crossing with the help of Syrian security forces.

A UPI account noted that:

Israel failed to kill Hezbollah's top members, and the organization continued to function throughout the war.

But Hezbollah lost more than 500 men, even though it confirmed only some 60-odd killed. Israel identified 440 dead guerrillas by name and address, and experience shows that Israeli figures are half to two-thirds of the enemy's real casualties. Therefore, Amidror estimated, Hezbollah's death toll might be as high as 700.

Both of those links were pulled from a media analysis by Steven Stotsky of The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) which sought to provide an actual account of the Hezbollah and civilan dead, arriving at a rough estimate of 500-600 Hezbollah fighters among the roughly 1,000-1,200 Lebanese killed—roughly half of the total.

A December 2006 review of the July 12-August 14 conflict by the Boston Globe cited a total of "More than 1,000 Lebanese civilians and combatants" killed, and of those, Hezbollah fighters comprised between 250 and 600 of that figure, depending on the source. The same Globe account also notes that the Lebanese government does not differentiate between civilians and Hezbollah fighters in their official toll of 1,086 dead, as it "can be difficult to tell a Hezbollah fighter because many do not wear military uniforms."

StrategyPage reported:

Hizbollah suffered a defeat. Their rocket attacks on Israel, while appearing spectacular (nearly 4,000 rockets launched), were unimpressive (39 Israelis killed, half of them Arabs). On the ground, Hizbollah lost nearly 600 of its own personnel, and billions of dollars worth of assets and weapons. Israeli losses were far less.

Instead of "mostly civilians," the conflict in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006 created roughly 1,000-1,200 fatalities in Lebanon, and clearly a significant number of them, roughly half, were Hezbollah fighters.

Bousso's claim for AFP that "mostly civilians" perished as a result of the war is both technically inaccurate and editorially deceptive.

Cross-posted to Confederate Yankee.