Earlier in the month, we complained to editors at The Independent about an article (“Restaurants in Gaza only serve salt water in solidarity with hunger strikers”) by Bethan McKernan which included the following claim, attempting to contextualise Palestinian support for the hunger striking prisoners:
“750,000 Palestinians have at one point or another in the last 50 years been imprisoned by the Israeli state, affecting almost every family.”
This statistic, stated as fact by McKernan, is at minimum highly disputed. As blogger Elder of Ziyon has persuasively demonstrated, it’s almost impossible for these numbers (cited frequently despite the fact that it originated from a radical NGO with ties to a terror group) to add up. Elder showed that, for the number to be accurate, it would mean that there were over 23,000 new prisoners a year since 1967, or 500 a week. However, even during the height of the intifada, the number of new prisoners a year never even reached 10,000.
Indy editors responded to our concerns by agreeing to add text to make clear that the “750,000 Palestinian prisoners” figure is merely a Palestinian claim, one which is disputed. Here’s the new sentence:
“…according to Palestinian estimates, disputed by Israel, 750,000 people have at one point or another in the last 50 years been imprisoned by the Israeli state, affecting seven out of ten families”.
Note that McKernan, who wrote this piece, was the Indy correspondent who published a piece last month quoting conspiracy theorist Ralph Schoenman. After complaints from UKMW, the Indy completely removed the article from its website.