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Picture Matthias Behnke

B’nai B’rith International wrote to a key official in the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Matthias Behnke, expressing concern over the lack of transparency in civilian-casualty figures released by the United Nations during Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza. 

Though Behnke told The New York Times that the United Nations uses human rights groups to calculate and categorize casualties and claimed it was “not that complicated” to obtain the data, he declined to identify the human rights groups the United Nations has consulted and the methodology being used. 

In their letter, B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin and U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs Director David J. Michaels wrote: “During times when the United Nations cannot establish the veracity of its ‘estimates’ – or cannot provide assurances that data is uninfluenced by ‘local authorities’ controlled in whole or in part by belligerents – we expect U.N. bodies to desist from circulating information that can impair defensive efforts and irresponsibly embolden those committed to recurring conflict that ensnares Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike.”

The letter can be read in full here.