A letter to the editor in The Washington Post caught my eye this morning. The writer defended the Israeli army’s recent raid in the Gaza Strip, quoting from the story: “The Israeli army . . . said that 17 of the 19 dead Palestinians were militants.” Because so many were militants, the loss of civilians could be excused.

You’ll often find phrases such as “the Israeli army said” or “according to the Israeli army” in stories about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. More than 100 Post articles in the past three years have used such phrases. It’s important to keep in mind the source. Because the army said 17 of the 19 were militants doesn’t mean there were. We really don’t know how many of the Palestinian dead were militants and how many were innocents caught up in Israeli’s revenge.