Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Keir Starmer

“Even if we were to take as accurate Hamas’s statistics and the 27,500 figure—there is no reason why we should; we do not do that with Putin or ISIS—if one subtracts the number of Gazans who have been killed by the quarter or so of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas rockets that fall short, one is left with a less than 2:1 ratio of civilians to Hamas terrorists killed, of whom there have been more than 9,000 so far. …. less than 2:1 is an astonishingly low ratio for modern urban warfare where the terrorists routinely use civilians as human shields.”

Lord Roberts of Belgravia, Conservative Peer, House of Lords

Facts

During a House of Lords debate on humanitarian situation in Gaza, Baroness Uddin asked “when will the UK Government say ‘Stop now’ and cease their complicity for the incomprehensible cruelty, rape, torture and detention in the killing fields of Palestine, which has indeed set an ugly precedent for our world, and abide by the ruling of the ICJ provisional order?”

Lord Roberts responded “Even if we were to take as accurate Hamas’s statistics and the 27,500 figure—there is no reason why we should; we do not do that with Putin or ISIS—if one subtracts the number of Gazans who have been killed by the quarter or so of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas rockets that fall short, one is left with a less than 2:1 ratio of civilians to Hamas terrorists killed, of whom there have been more than 9,000 so far. …. less than 2:1 is an astonishingly low ratio for modern urban warfare where the terrorists routinely use civilians as human shields. It is a testament to the professionalism, ethics and values of the Israel Defense Forces.”

The World Health Organisation regards the Gazan Health Ministry’s mortality figures as reliable. A study by the Lancet reached the same conclusion.

In November 2023 Barbara Leaf, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs said that the difficulty of collecting data meant the Health Ministry’s figures were probably an underestimate. In subsequent months much of Gaza’s health infrastructure was destroyed, making it even more difficult to gather figures. 

On 10 November 2023 the Israeli military said 12% of Palestinian rockets were falling short, not a “quarter or so” as Lord Roberts claims.

In the past Human Rights Watch has acknowledged some Palestinians have been killed by rockets. Given how small these rockets are the number is unlikely to be a significant proportion of those killed in the current conflict. Lord Roberts appears to be stating it is around 500, which is unlikely.

More controversially Lord Roberts accepts uncritically the Israeli claim that 9,000 of the dead are Hamas fighters. As of 8 February 2024 the official death toll showed at least a total of 27,585 deaths including 11,500 children and 8,000 women. Hamas does not use female fighters. For the Israeli figures to be accurate would require every single adult man who has died to be a fighter, and a number of the children.

Verdict

Lord Roberts’ statement is misleading.

We emailed Lord Roberts offering him the chance to respond. He replied but declined to comment. 

Published 28 Jun 2024
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