Often times when reviewing an article about Israel in the British media, a claim evokes a mental red flag not because we know for certain that it’s false, but because it just seems, on simply an intuitive level, to be extraordinarily improbable.
That was our reaction to the following sentence in a Telegraph article about efforts to locate and neutralise landmines and unexploded ordinances in Lebanon (“Deminers of Lebanon: Destroying explosives – and returning the land to its people”, Oct. 26) by Jessie Williams.
If the IDF dropped four million bombs on Hezbollah targets during the 34 day war, that would come out to an average of over 117,000 bombs each day!
Sure enough, after researching the matter, it seemed clear that the writer conflated two separate statistics – the number of (cluster) bombs dropped and the number of sub-munitions emanating from those bombs.
Even according to figures in a deeply flawed report by the anti-Israel NGO Human Rights Watch (that the writer evidently relied upon), the IDF dropped 962 bombs during that war, not over 4 million – an error by a factor of 4,000. The 4 million Human Rights Watch estimate relates to the number of sub-munitions – not the number of individual bombs.
Evidently, Telegraph editors responsible for publishing the article didn’t fact-check the “4 million” figure.
However, contrary to professional journalistic standards, no editor’s note acknowledging the correction has been published.
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