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This question is a follow-up from a PoliticsSE answer, essentially asking to what extent the content of the cited quote is based on truth.

Let me be clear: I don't question OP's or anybody's intentions. At first I thought this was a valid and interesting question myself and I upvoted it. However in retrospect I'm uncomfortable with it and I now think that the question is subtly biased:

  • Unavoidably the short extract (one paragraph from a 400 pages book) gives an extremely narrow picture of the author's arguments. Additionally the extract focuses on a point based itself on a very specific part of an official report. The author informally argues that there is an apparent contradiction in this particular part of the report. Needless to say, I doubt anybody involved in the question or any answer read the book or the report (I certainly didn't).
  • The question opposes this quote with a news report given as evidence of the destructiveness of the rockets. To some extent this makes sense: in the extract the author appears to downplay the destructiveness of the rockets even though there is evidence of their destructiveness, so OP is asking where exactly is the truth between these two opposite views. However by opposing the very specific point the author makes with the damage rockets can do in general (which is uncontested), the question drastically simplifies the debate, or at least invites a very simplified interpretation.

In particular this answer clearly shows how the question can be interpreted as if the author denies that any rocket is destructive: if one omits the very specific context of the quote, it looks as if the author claims that Hamas rockets are always just "enhanced fireworks" which cannot cause any serious damage. And of course it's very easy to "debunk" this "conspiracy theory", which is a complete travesty of the author's point.

To me this looks like a straw man argument: the claim of the author is presented in the question as if it contradicts the destructiveness of any rocket (which it doesn't). Then it's easy for answers to dismiss the claim.

Additionally there is another bias that I mentioned in my answer: we all naturally like to have answers and whenever there is some data available we want to use it. A clear-cut answer backed with statistics and "hard facts" is always more satisfying than an acknowledgement of ignorance. But data is not neutral and objective by itself, and in this case the source of the data is the least objective possible source, it's precisely the one criticized by the author of the quote. This is a circular reasoning: X is wrong to criticize Y because of some evidence provided by Y and not confirmed by anybody else.

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  • I have been debating people about this topic since 2006, and this is just a perfect example of Israel's PR team at work (back then it was mostly the JIDF). My comments (including high rated ones) were removed... that amounts to censorship.
    – aross
    May 19 at 9:11
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    @aross Stack Exchange is not a debating forum. May 19 at 20:29
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    @AndrewGrimm I am well aware of that. But I was not the only one who commented on the asymmetry of military power, yet only my comments were removed.
    – aross
    May 20 at 9:07
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    @aross: If you have a real concern about mods, please raise a meta-question or contact the community team at the contact link at the bottom of the page. If you are concerned that other people's comments are not following the rules, please flag them. If you just want to complain that your off-topic, politically-motivated comments were deleted on a site that they are not welcome, and then try to use the "But, Officer, other people were speeding too" excuse, please don't. Certainly don't insult us with censorship claims if you do so.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    May 24 at 15:31
  • I know you've asked for more feedback, but I've been so busy. Quick basics: questions need to be based on testable, notable claims. If that's present, strawman issues are an item for answers to address.
    – fredsbend Mod
    May 25 at 4:45
  • @Oddthinking I am not excusing my behavior, I was "speeding". However, due to previous experiences (again, used to be JIDF, nowadays it's the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, maybe others), I perceived the initial imbalance of comment removal as influence from Israel's PR machine (possibly due to flags). Not that the individual mods work for Israel!
    – aross
    May 25 at 8:55
  • @aross Were your comments 'generally, stating (your important) facts' or were they 'adding important facts to improve the post they appeared under'? The first is often posted by many and depending on length of comment thread, very easily justifiable to be subject of traceless disappearance as per policy (if seemed fit enough for an answer in themselves? Use the proper A-box then). The latter case 'improving post' by either counter fact or complaint towards the post or its conclusions might be a case of 'keeping is worthwhile'. If comments were indeed just 'off-topic', they needed deletion. Jun 2 at 12:32
  • Your questions are answered in the comment above yours.
    – aross
    Jun 2 at 13:05
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Having answered the original question I still think Erwan has some point here, you simply cannot answer such questions using credible sources because they don't exist.

I don't think it is an Israeli PR stunt, there is no censorship and the truth might be this or that- but we can't present it as such in a Skeptics forum.

The question is a great topic for discussion, it brings a lot of emotions and politics but unfortunately can never be fully answered, at least not in the next few decades

Edit: Actually this question has the same problem

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  • You forgot to add the URL to the other question you mentioned. What I meant specifically with the PR effort is flagging comments, voting and such to steer the discussion. Not the large scale ad campaign the Ministry of Strategic Affairs ran on YouTube.
    – aross
    May 20 at 14:11
  • We both can't support our claims, but I suspect that the anti-Israel PR has more supporters than the pro side. But anyway, that's irrelevant to the original question
    – Rsf
    May 20 at 15:21
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    Thank you for your answer (+1)
    – Erwan
    May 21 at 9:47
  • If a question cannot be ever be answered, please edit it to fix, or comment on it, maybe downvote it, and Vote To Close. If a question cannot be answered until quality evidence is available, please leave it unanswered. Leaving a poorly referenced answer on a badly constructed question does not help.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    May 24 at 15:33
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I fully disagree with you on every point that you raise, both in this question and in the answer you provided.

Misquoting or taking out of context.

To me, reading the quote provided makes a very clear claim by Finkelshtein, Hamas rockets are ineffective by themselves, regardless of Israel's efforts to stop them and protect its citizens. If this is a straw man, misquotation or is taken out of context can be shown quite easily, the source of the quote is shown, just checking the book to see if it was misquoted is enough, and reading the section where this quote is in should give the proper context. If the context needed for a single quote is so large that a whole 400 pages book is needed to properly understand it, then the quote is wrong. Especially in the way that this quote is presented, it's very decisive and doesn't really any opening for a possibility of nuance and elaboration.

Trustworthy sources

I get that you don't trust the Israeli sources as to the seriousness of the threat and that you think that Israel in general and Netanyahu specifically have a vested interest in up-playing the threat from the rocket attacks. This however disregards several very important issues. The Iron-Dome specifically is credited to Amir Peretz, a political rival to Netanyahu, downplaying the importance of the system would play into Netanyahu's hands, in fact, this was a point in Peretz parliamentary campaign.

Moreover, there is another organization that boasts about the danger from the rocket attacks to Israeli citizens, Hamas, PIJ and other terrorist organizations active in the Gaza strip boast about the military capabilities of the rockets and their potential threat to Israel, not only individually about each rocket, but also about their use of the rockets and that they can overwhelm Israel's defence system and hurt its citizens even under the protection of the Iron Dome. While Hamas doesn't say the exact number of rockets that they fired, they also declare that they fired thousands of various rockets.

Trustworthy sources specifically about the specs of the rockets

Israel publicized the specs of the rockets that Hamas have, but you don't need to trust only Israeli sources on this. Hamas names the rockets with names that tell about their performance, the M-75 has a range of 75 km, the J-80 has a range of 80 to 100 km. I'll let you guess what is the range of the R-160 rocket. In addition, Hamas is using rockets made in Iran/Syria whose properties are known and the rockets that Hamas creates on its own are based on reverse engineering existing rockets from the same established sources, the M-75 is based on the Iranian Fajr-5 and the R-160 is based on the Syrian M-302.

So I do believe that the quote as presented is easily verifiable that it's not out of context, and that the sources, from both sides of the conflict, verify each other and agree on the facts of the capabilities possessed by Hamas, PIJ and the other terrorist organizations.

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  • Thank you for taking the time to answer. (1) The quote says " the preponderance of these so-called rockets", i.e. the author doesn't say "all Hamas rockets are ineffective", interpreting it this way is a strawman already. (2) The PoliticsSE answer which is the source of the question explains why both Hamas and the Israeli government benefit from saying that Hamas' rockets are a serious threat, so Hamas is not in any way a better source (less credible in fact). Politically, "both sides of the conflict" want to be seen as strongly defending their side. There's no objective evidence anywhere.
    – Erwan
    Jun 2 at 20:13
  • @Erwan, (1) by "the preponderance" it's obvious that the author means the majority of rockets. Yes, Hamas might still have a few rockets laying around from 15 years ago, when they made them of road signs and other scrap metals, it doesn't change the argument. The two most targeted cities during this latest and the 2014 rounds of hostilities were Ashkelon and Ashdod, located 20 and 40 km away from Gaza, the rockets fired on them are not the improvised first generation of Qasams. It's obvious that the majoroty of rockets used by Hamas are military grade rockets.
    – SIMEL
    Jun 3 at 6:00
  • @Erwan (2), well both Hamas and Netanyahu have political rivals, who will benefit if the threat is not real. Also, as someone who lives in one of the cities that was under constant rocket fire, the rockets were real, we heard and saw them. So it might be that the systems counted 9 rockets fired, but in actuality only 7 were fired, but rockets were fired, in vast numbers. Israelis in every city that had an alarm reported hearing and seeing rockets. There are many documented photographs and films of rockets over israeli cities.
    – SIMEL
    Jun 3 at 6:06
  • The author is downplaying the threat, and I certainly understand that this is unbearable to the victims. Still, downplaying or minimizing is not the same as denying: on the one hand you agree that "preponderance" means "majority", on the other hand you argue that "rockets were real" as if the authors claimed that there are no real rockets. This is exactly the point I made: the vague claim of the author is interpreted as if he said that "all rockets are enhanced fireworks" whereas it says "most rockets are enhanced fireworks". The fact that you insist that there are photos and videos ...
    – Erwan
    Jun 3 at 11:42
  • ... shows that in your mind the author is denying any damage from any rocket. This is a strawman, I'm afraid.
    – Erwan
    Jun 3 at 11:43
  • @Erwan, the point about photo evidence goes agains your claim that it's impossible to know the number of rockets fired because the Israeli gov. in unreliable in your eyes. What I say is that sirens were not sounded falsly and people have evidence corelating rocket sirens with actual rockets being fired. So if the Israeli gov. says that there were so and so rockets fired, you can trust it because the people on the ground saw those rockets. And if you want to check for yourself, you can go and check the history of sirens and alarms and count them. Each of them is related to an actual real rocket
    – SIMEL
    Jun 3 at 12:35
  • @Erwan, I still don't get the issue with the word preponderance, the majority of rockets fired at Israel were fired on Ashkelon and Ashdod. The first gen. Qasam rockets that could be considered enhanced fireworks don't reach those distances. Add to this the places even farther like Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva & Jerusalem and you can clearly see that the vast majority of rockets used by Hamas were military-grade weapons and not some makeshift pipe-bombs. This is the majority, and those are the missiles that have the most effect on the most people, so they are for sure the preponderance of missiles.
    – SIMEL
    Jun 3 at 12:40
  • strictly speaking "most" could mean anywhere between 51% and 99%, the claim is very vague. Also the author appears to talk specifically about "several residential communities on the border with the Gaza Strip", although it's not even clear if his conclusion applies only to these or in general. Of course there are some real destructive rockets, casualties, the alarms are not sounded falsely... That's not the point since nobody denies it, giving this kind of argument is attacking a strawman.
    – Erwan
    Jun 3 at 13:07
  • About the evidence I had the same discussion with Rsf: yes there is a lot of evidence, but actually studying everything and doing a proper study which confirms or not the statistics of the government would take a lot of time and money. To the best of my knowledge nobody is doing it, neither political opponents or any third-party organizations. An objective debate about the question requires the data to be confirmed by third-parties.
    – Erwan
    Jun 3 at 13:10
  • Anyway my opinion is that this questions should have been closed from the start because the claim is too vague for any objective analysis. The result is a very opinion-based discussion which is not what skeptics is supposed to be about.
    – Erwan
    Jun 3 at 13:12

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