Journalists’ loaded language about Israel’s war with Hamas is obscuring the legal and political realities on the ground.

That was the message of experts assembled for a Tuesday webinar hosted by Honest Reporting Canada, which touts itself as “an independent grass-roots organization promoting fairness and accuracy in Canadian media coverage of Israel and the Middle East.”

The panel, titled War Crimes: Blowing Up Media Distortion, was moderated by Honest Reporting Canada chairman Jonas Prince and featured 40-year Israel Defence Forces veteran and former chief of staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi and international law expert Natasha Hausdorff.

“Since October 7, most journalists have bestowed upon themselves an honorary legal degree,” said Prince. “They are speaking authoritatively on the topic of war crimes. While the laws themselves may not be unduly complex, the application of those laws to the current war on Gaza has been grossly distorted.”

Prince said took aim at loaded terms that have become commonplace in media coverage of Israel’s actions.

“The words of war crimes, genocide, proportionality, siege, humanitarian crisis, have been weaponized by the media, as well as Israel’s enemies,” he said. “The Iron Dome defense against these verbal missiles is knowledge.”

Another issue raised by the panel was the media’s reporting of raw casualty figures in the conflict.

The media shows the lopsided numbers killed “as a sports score,” said Prince. “It has this misleading notion that too few Israelis are getting killed. But all the laws recognize civilians will die in war. It goes without saying, and it’s tragic. But the laws recognize that.”

Hausdorff added the comparisons are “utterly repugnant equivalence,” as the media fails to point out the Palestinian numbers are provided by a terror organization, do not distinguish between civilians and combatants, or indicate how they were killed. The latter, she said, could include misfired Hamas rockets, or the terror group shooting on its own people.

“So those numbers are untrustworthy,” she said, “and nonetheless, they are being reported, parroted, by the media without the proper qualifications. And that’s extremely problematic.”

Even given Hamas’ suspect numbers, Israel kills 1.8 civilians to every one combatant, Hausdorff said, much lower than the global average from the United Nations, in the context of urban warfare, a nine to one ratio. Moreover, during the Iraq war, the ratio was three to one, and in Afghanistan, five to one, she added.

Kohavi added that Israel has spent “a fortune” on defense systems, like the Iron Dome, and wide-ranging shelters, for Israelis, thereby minimizing casualties on their side.

“I do not expect Hamas to build an Iron Dome, but they could have built shelters; instead, they’ve built tunnels for their perpetrators, not civilians,” he said.

“So make no mistake, a big part of those numbers, or one of the main reasons for this asymmetry of numbers, is because we are doing our utmost in order to protect our citizens.”

Hausdorff pointed out that the IDF takes “unparalleled” measures to reduce civilian casualties from text messages and phone calls to dropping leaflets and providing safe passage for civilians through humanitarian corridors.

The panel also weighed in on South Africa’s charge at the International Court of Justice that Israel is perpetrating “genocide” against Palestinians.

Hausdorff referenced Article Two of the United Nation’s Genocide Convention, that in short, makes it clear that to qualify as a genocide, there has to be “acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national ethnical, racial or religious group.”

“But the critical element of that definition is, of course, the intention, which comes even before the actions themselves are listed.” There was ultimately nothing substantive found in South Africa’s case, she said, “because there is no evidence that Israel is engaged in genocide. Quite the contrary.”

The charge of genocide took on a life of its own, further propelled by the case, that has “already done a world of harm,” Hausdorff said. The term “is now being deployed with such frequency, especially in the media against Israel, which means that South Africa has essentially succeeded in its attempt to shift the narrative, to put forward pseudo-legal terminology, and to advance this blood libel against Israel.”

Hausdorff accused the International Court of Justice of “essentially doing the bidding of a terrorist organization” – Hamas.

In summation, Prince noted that the war that Hamas started on Oct. 7 is unlike any conflict seen before in modern warfare.

“The IDF may be facing the most complex and difficult circumstances in military history, by being in this asymmetric war with a small dense population controlled by non-state terrorists, using a local population as human shields,” he said. “Their infrastructure has over 600 kilometers of underground tunnels, embedded in a world of social media, and at a time where international antisemitism has exploded.”


  • Dave Gordon

    Dave Gordon is a media professional and has worked in an editor capacity for National Post, Postmedia, Markham Review, Thornhill Liberal, Pie Magazine,, Swagger Magazine and Checkout My Business. His work can be found at