Ensuring Israeli Military Success in Gaza

Promoting accurate information regarding wartime situations and statistics is critical to educating the American public and defense officials at all levels. It is also vital to the success of allies of freedom and democracy abroad.

In fact, the DoD has a longstanding policy outlined in DoD Directive 5122.5, entitled “The Principles of Information” which outlines the agency’s philosophy and is in place to guard against officials releasing inaccurate information to the public. The principles state in part, “A free flow of general and military information shall be made available, without censorship or propaganda, to the men and women of the Armed Forces and their dependents,” and stresses that “propaganda has no place in DoD public affairs programs.”

In recent testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Austin stated that Israeli forces had killed more than 25,000 women and children in Gaza since October 7, 2023. These numbers are those being published by the “Gaza Health Ministry,” which is under the control of the terrorist organization Hamas.

As PBS reported in November, officials at the World Health Organization have stated that these numbers may “not be perfectly accurate” and they are compiled and reported by Gaza Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra. The ministry never distinguishes between combatants and civilians, and provides no names, ages, or locations of those killed in their public reporting of the numbers. Even President Biden has said, “I have no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using.”

Hamas has a tactical and strategic interest in inflating the numbers of civilian casualties caused by the fighting in Gaza, and a history of manipulating information for credulous news media and sympathetic international ears.

The DoD and its senior leaders need to be more careful to ensure that the U.S. government is not calling attention to statistics created by our enemies. The DoD must discover how the Secretary came to be citing Hamas propaganda and the basis for ongoing public pronouncements for which it implicitly admitted to having no factual support.

That is why our organization, the Center to Advance Security in America (CASA) has asked the DoD to investigate whether statements made by the Secretary of Defense and his top aides have violated anti-propaganda policies in place at the Department.

The American government needs to be doing everything possible at its disposal to help our great friend and ally Israel in these dangerous times – this starts with providing accurate information on their military operations in Gaza.

James Fitzpatrick is an Army Veteran and the Director of the Center to Advance Security in America (CASA), an organization dedicated to improving the safety and security of the American people.

This article was originally published by RealClearDefense and made available via RealClearWire.

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Photo: TOPSHOT - This picture taken on October 11, 2023 shows an aerial view of buildings destroyed by Israeli air strikes in the Jabalia camp for Palestinian refugees in Gaza City. Israel declared war on Hamas on October 8 following a shock land, air and sea assault by the Gaza-based Islamists. The death toll from the shock cross-border assault by Hamas militants rose to 1,200, making it the deadliest attack in the country's 75-year history, while Gaza officials reported more than 900 people killed as Israel pounded the territory with air strikes. (Photo by Yahya HASSOUNA / AFP) (Photo by YAHYA HASSOUNA/AFP via Getty Images)