Two weeks ago I posted about the death toll in the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas. As it happened, later that morning when I opened the door, there was this graphic sitting above the fold on the front page of the New York Times.
The piece sits prominently on the front page, but tones down the colour and detail on the map to let the graphical elements, the coloured boxes, shine and take their prominent position.
Here’s a detail photo I took in case the above is too small.
Ultimately, the piece isn’t too complex and isn’t more than what I made. However, the map adds some important geographical context, showing just where the deaths were occurring.
The piece also highlights the deaths in the West Bank and those in Israel from civil unrest. That was data I didn’t have at the time.
redit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department..
I’ve seen an uptick in traffic to the blog the last few days, specifically my older content on the Middle East. I don’t exactly have the bandwidth to track the conflict between Israel and Gaza in addition to Covid-19 and my other projects. But as we approached the ten-day mark since Hamas first fired rockets into Israel, I wanted to get a sense of the death toll and so here we are.
The biggest thing to note is that we should take all this data with a grain of salt. For example, the Israeli Defence Force will likely talk up the effectiveness of its Iron Dome air defence system and downplay total civilian deaths. Conversely, Hamas will likely talk up civilian deaths while not detailing at all the deaths of its fighters. And when it comes to deaths in Gaza, it’s not clear what share of those reported by civilian authorities, i.e. the hospital systems, are militant fighters vs. civilians.
Not at all covered by any of this is a discussion of the opportunity costs involved, particularly when it comes to Israeli air strikes. For example, if a Gaza household contains a known Hamas fighter, one can certainly regret an Israeli drone strike that kills the fighter and his non-combatant son whilst in a field. But that strike may be a better outcome than striking the fighter’s home and along with killing not just him and his son, but now his wife, daughters, and the rest of his family.