Saturday, February 24, 2018
Politics

Sorting out facts on Gaza

The minute-by-minute changes in the developments in Israel and Gaza make it difficult for fact-checkers to keep things straight.

But since the escalation in violence began last month, PunditFact has been able to examine a few of the claims central to the conflict.

Child casualties

Gaza's casualties have piled up much faster than Israel's since bombs began flying on July 8, and on CNN, Jake Tapper attempted to put the disparity in context during an interview with Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev.

"If my calculations are right, Israel has, in the last three weeks, killed more Palestinian children, more than 200, than the total number of Israeli soldiers killed in military operations since 2006," Tapper said during a July 29 interview.

"At what point does the Israeli government say, enough, we're killing too many innocent children?"

Regev gave an example of the grief the deaths are causing Israeli officials but maintained that Hamas is responsible for using civilians as human shields.

Tapper's tough line of questioning made waves, but his numbers largely check out.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs issues a daily report on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, which includes a tally of total deaths, civilian deaths and child deaths, gathered by combining reports from Palestinian authorities — not Hamas — and the bodies their own agents have seen in Gaza.

As of Aug. 5, the UN office has reported a total of 1,814 Palestinians killed, including 408 children. On July 29 when Tapper made his claim, the UN reported that 229 children had been killed.

It's impossible to know for certain that all the children were killed by Israeli bombs or military strikes, but the figure does outpace the number of Israeli soldiers killed in operations since 2006. We searched a number of different ways and found that 221 Israeli soldiers have died in military operations over the past eight years.

We rated Tapper's claim Mostly True.

Hamas meeting

On last Sunday's This Week, Fox News pundit Greta Van Susteren criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for meeting with Hamas leaders to help secure a ceasefire.

Van Susteren painted Kerry's meeting as going against the will of the Arab League, whose members oppose the spread of political Islam and therefore are siding with Israel in the current conflict.

"That's why so many people were critical of Secretary Kerry going to Paris and talking with Hamas," she said on Aug. 2. "The Arab League thought that that was, you know, supporting Hamas to the exclusion of the Arab League."

Just one problem: Kerry never met with Hamas, a group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States.

"If Kerry or his representatives were to meet with Hamas, they would spend the next 20 years in Leavenworth (Penitentiary)," said James Gelvin, a Middle East historian at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Instead, Kerry met with officials from Turkey and Qatar, who are considered intermediaries for Hamas. And indeed, that did upset some but not all of the members of the Arab League.

We rated Van Susteren's claim False.

Gaza's water issues

We also heard from Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal, who slammed the U.S. media for "biased" coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

On MSNBC, Jebreal claimed that between June 30 and July 10, CNN interviewed "17 Israeli public officials versus one" Palestinian official. We rated that claim to be Half True because Jebreal had undercounted some of the appearances by Palestinians.

Jebreal also claimed that U.S. media was ignoring the humanitarian crisis facing the 1.8 million people living in Gaza.

"Most Americans think, okay, Israelis are minding their own business and Palestine woke up one day in Gaza and said okay, let me fire missiles," Jebreal said. "That's not what's happening.

"They don't know anything about the siege, 1.8 million Palestinians living under siege in extreme poverty, with 90 percent that don't have access even to water."

We can't get into the heads of all Americans, but we were curious about Jebreal's claim about the problems people in Gaza have accessing water.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, about 67 percent of people living in Gaza currently have little or no access to running water because of damage to the electricity system or lack of fuel to run generators that provide water, sanitation, and hygiene.

We rated Jebreal's statement Mostly True.

Staff writers Katie Sanders and Linda Qiu contributed to this report. Read the full fact-checks at PunditFact.com.

Comments
Top Justice official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushnerís security clearance

Top Justice official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushnerís security clearance

WASHINGTON ó A top Justice Department official alerted the White House two weeks ago that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay the security clearance process of senior adviser Jared Kushner, three people fami...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Former Florida congressmen say gun control measures need to go much further

Former Florida congressmen say gun control measures need to go much further

TAMPA ó A bipartisan pair of former congressmen spoke Friday about gun safety measures that are more drastic than those being considered following the Parkland school shootings, and about hopes for a national youth movement comparable to the 1960s an...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Gulfport candidates draw stark contrasts

GULFPORT ó One candidate is a plain-spoken, straightforward technology consultant who preaches "conservative fiscal responsibility" and votes Republican in national elections.The other is a self-proclaimed "progressive liberal" who practices law, pro...
Published: 02/23/18
William March: Gun issues playing bigger role now in local races

William March: Gun issues playing bigger role now in local races

In the aftermath of the Broward County high school shooting, gun rights issues have jumped to the forefront of local legislative races.Democratic challengers are calling out incumbents in Tampa legislative seats on their past stances on gun control."...
Published: 02/22/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Donald Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the presidentís call last summer for a ban on all transgender service, acc...
Published: 02/22/18
Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

After an emotionally draining day that captured national attention ó the massive rally in Tallahassee and a small, tearful gathering of survivors at the White House ó CNNís Wednesday night town hall on the Parkland shooting could have easily been ove...
Published: 02/22/18
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

A St. Louis grand jury has indicted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on a felony invasion of privacy charge related to the Republicanís affair with a woman in 2015. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced the indictment Thursday. She launched an ...
Published: 02/22/18
Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trumpís club

Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trumpís club

Two weeks after President Donald Trump nominated Florida businessman Leandro Rizzuto Jr. to be ambassador to Barbados, Rizzuto pledged thousands of dollars to fund a gala at Trumpís Mar-a-Lago Club, the galaís organizer said.Rizzuto and his wife, Den...
Published: 02/22/18
Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

New charges were filed Thursday against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner, ratcheting up the legal pressure on them as they prepare for a trial later this year.A new indictment has long been expected in special cou...
Published: 02/22/18
Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Gun advocates are absolutely right about this:A ban on assault weapons will not end school shootings.How do we know?Because there was a federal ban on assault weapons for 10 years, and mass killings persisted. Thatís because a ban deals only with fut...
Published: 02/22/18