Lebanese PM: IDF Strike Killed 1, Not 40

From the Department of Corrections Department:

The Lebanese prime minister said one person was killed in an Israeli air raid Monday in the southern border village of Houla, lowering the death toll from 40. Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said at a news conference that he had based the initial tally on unspecified information that he had received.

Oops! Can’t imagine how that might have happened. . . .

Strangely, I can’t think of a case during this conflict where the number of civilians killed by Israel was wildly underestimated and later corrected. There have now been at least two in the other direction.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. But the forty killed figure made all the rounds this morning, including Morning Edition on NPR. The equivalent of a page six correction now does little to mitigate the propaganda victory the liars have achieved.

  2. Jane Galt says:

    I can’t think of a single case of anything where the death toll was revised down. News accounts tend to go for the most sensational numbers . . . I doubt Israeli estimates of casualties off suicide bombers are often revised downwards either.

  3. Jim Henley says:

    Crap. Jane beat me to it.

    Initial casualty estimates are always high by a factor of 2-5. This applies to just about any mass-casualty event you’d care to name, not just violent acts. Earthquakes, fires, whatever. We spent two days in mid-September 2001 convinced that we’d lost 100,000 Americans in New York, then another couple convinced we’d lost 10,000. Actual number: just over 3K.

    In 1991 Norman Schwartzkopf and Colin Powell informed us that some hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Republican Guard troops had died in Operation Desert Saber. That estimate was certainly high by an order of magnitude.

    Those are just two examples. Throw in the famous expressway collapse from the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989 for a third. Further instances are left as an exercise for the reader.

    Note BTW, that the Qana number dropped from 50 to just north of two dozen, but two dozen is still a lot of dead.

  4. In light of the Reuters faux photo fun, it is interesting to see how they are handling the number revision. Rather than report that the PM first said 40 and now says 1, they just report how upset the PM was when he thought it was 40 and ignores the numbers.

    You can trust the MSM to deliver the news with a consistent standard for fairness and accuracy.