work in progress
Mapping Human Violence

example Middle East conflict July-August 2006: Palestine - Israel - Lebanon
a web project by Tjebbe van Tijen/Imaginary Museum Projects (4d draft 26/08/06)
"TERRORISM: state - collective - individual, from mega-death to individual victims; collecting disparative data about reactions; horrified - rejoicing - ambivalent; making the incomparable understood; creating visual language tools to sober our views, go beyond our fears."

This were the opening sentences of a manifesto that formed the basis of a seminar I gave in 2004 at the Piet Zwart Media Institute in Rotterdam with the subject: "Mapping Human Violence".
(1) The seminar tried to widen the students understanding of representation methods of human violence, whereby 'maps' were presented as more than just representations of geo-physical space: "representations that facilitate a spatial understanding of things, concepts, conditions, processes or events in the human world." (2) This broadend concept of maps included diagrams, picture statistics, and other forms of visualisation of information.

Information in our Western culture is first of all thought of as textual information, that may be illustrated by pictures and also be communicated verbally in the form of radio communication and verbally+visually in television and web presentations. Visualisation - be it for printed press, television or 'the Web' - is in most cases seen as 'illustrating' a statement that has first been expressed in written or narrated form. For most producers of information (journalist, writers and editors) the role of the pictorial is subservient: it is there to enhance text or narrative, hardly the other way around. Consumers of information do not necessarely follow this hierachy. When reading newspapers many tend to take in first the pictorial part of a message, next scan captions and editorials related to the pictures and, last, maybe, read the main text. The format of television does not allow for such roaming of the 'information space', though recently layering of information within the television screen, with scrolling bands of text, icons and the like, has been introduced. The time framed continous character of television leaves hardly any time for an individual way of "reading" (though in practice television spectators often do not look at the screen constantly; will look away while attending some other task meanwhile continuing to listen, or listens without really looking). Classical televison lacks the roaming (except for zapping between stations) and comparing qaulities of the world of printed information and the Internet.

These brief observations are meant to introduce some additional ways of information representation. Instead of primary text based statements, arguments can also be conveyed in other forms. One of them is purely visual, another method is when 'picture' and 'text' are mutal supportive, as in the classic medium of 'emblem art'. These are very brief picture stories ('emblemata') and have a tripartite structure of 'pictura', 'nomenclatura' and 'descriptio' (picture, main heading and description). Emblems have been a way to express moral values, wisdom and wit from the 14th to the 18th century.
(3) Yet another form is the 'commented tableau picture', often used for educational purposes, as done by Comenius (1592-1671) in his "Orbis Pictus". a visual primer for learning Latin, with tableaus representing in a systematic way objects and ideas in the form of landscapes, still lifes or diagrams. These tableaus are accompagnied by a main header (index or nomenclatura) and also have a series of explantory sentences with numbered words that link to things represented in the tableau (almost like a modern web page with hyper-links). (4) These traditional ways of communication formed the basis for the 'visual language' (Bildsprache) and 'picture statistic' system developed by Otto Neurath (1882-1945) and Gerd Arntz (1900-1988) between 1920-1945, called 'isotype' system. (5) Although not many people are aware of the picture education method of Neurath and Arntz, everybody is familair with the actual use of pictograms in public space, some of which have been engineered or influenced by these pioneers. Being inspired myself by the work of Neurath c.s., for a long time, I have sought to apply some of their principles in an attempt to map aspects of the latest conflict in the Middle East.

It is more than just an esthetic or academic exercise. There are good reasons for making some system to help comprehend scale and magnitude of this violent outburst; to be critical about given number of casulties and damage; to see which items and numbers may be compared, and which ones not; to try and see if disticntions can be made within certain too general figures; to bring to light incompatabilities and conflicting data; in certain cases allow for some form of 'muliple truth'; to see the 'events of the day' in a wider geographical and historical perspective; and last - most important - to make the data that formed the basis for the visualisations traceable, and permanently document each given source. As said in the manifesto of 2004:

"When we want to find our way out of the spiraling labyrinth of terrorism we must make our self a guide, we need to make: MAPS OF HUMAN VIOLENCE."

(1) Web page of Seminar for post-graduate course "Mapping Human Violence"
(2) Freely adapted after:Harley, J.B. (1932-1991)/Woodward, David (1942-): - The history of cartography vol.1; cartography in prehistoric, ancient, and medieavl Europe and the Mediterranean (1987) [University of Chicago press; Chicago/London; p.599]; p.p.xvi-xvii, preface.
(3) See some high resolution scans of originals from the exellent collection of the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenüttel.
(4) Joh. Amos Commenii "Orbis sensualium pictus : hoc est, omnium fundamentalium in Mundo Rerum & in Vita Actionum, Pictura & Nomenclatura; Die sichtbare Welt, das ist aller vornemsten Welt Diunge und des Lebens Verrichtungen, Vorbildung und Benahmung" (1658) [Omnia Sponte Fluant Absit Violentia Rebus; Noribergae Typis & Sumpribus Michaelis Endteri;
Neurath, Otto (1882-1945) "International picture language/Internationale Bildersprache" (1936/1980) [Department of Typography & Graphic Communication University of Reading; reading; a facsimile reprint of the 1937 English edition, with a German translation by Marie Neurath; p.70; 20 cm]

Death & Damage of the 2006 Fifty Days War: PALESTINE - ISRAEL - LEBANON in the context of a century of violence in the Middle East

"One must take care, so far as is possible, to prevent the death of innocent persons, even by accident, because it is the bidding of mercy, if not of justice, that except for reasons that are weighty and will affect the safety of many, no action should be attempted whereby innocent persons may be threatened with destruction."
For ever since man has organized his violence into the institution of war he has invariably employed as one of his weapons the half truths or outright lies of propganda.
Hugo Grotius "De Jure Belli ac Pacis" - 1625 (1) Micheal Clodfelter "Warfare and Armed Conflicts, a statistical reference to casualty and other figures, 1618-1991" - 1992 (2)

On this page several tables with picture statistics show belligrent parties, their weapons and the resulting victims and damage of the 2006 Palestine-Israel-Lebanon War. This conflict is also compared with other wars and conflicts in the Middle East from 1920 to 2006.

The numbers of death are given without distinction between age, gender, or form of involvement. So the given numbers include both civilian and combattant victims. This has been done both for practical and moral reasons.

because the available statistics at this moment (the day after the UN ceasefire of August 13) tend to be incomplete or inconsistent in their specification of how many of the killed were children, women, elderly, soldiers, combattants or 'non-combattants'. Offical Israeli sources give detailed overviews of civilian and military deaths (with names and portraits) for the Lebanon part of the conflict since July 12, but do not mention the victims of the Gaza incidents since June 24. (*) Distinctions between civilian and combattant (Hamas, Hezbollah and other para-military, insurgent or resistance groups) death are blurred in the sources that cover the Palestinian and Lebanese victims. Total death numbers at certain stages of the conflict have often been given with the note "mainly" or "mostly civilian". (**) Sometimes precise differentiated numbers were given for specific periods, like the Israeli Human Rights Group for the occupied territories B'tselem, in their report on July 2006: "the Israeli military killed 163 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, 78 of whom (48 percent) were not taking part in the hostilities when they were killed."(3) Differentiated total numbers on Palestinian/Gaza casulties for the whole 50 days period were hard to find. The
Lebanese sources tend to give only very global numbers with some indication like "mailnly civilians". The number of Hezbollah fighters killed in battle (500) are only given by Israeli army. (4)

because I think we should value all human beings equally, and though we tend to pity the death of women and children more than that of soldiers, all of them are in the end human beings. Divisions like "civilan/military" or even worse "combattant/non-combattant", are part of the institution of war. Being a military (conscript or professional) makes one lose the status of civilan, your life and death devaluates, though you may become a hero or matyre once killed.

The morale scale of death Elliot: "There exists a view that one violent death has the same moral value as a thousand or a million deaths. Presumably 'moral value', in this view, is kept in jars of concentrated essence on the shelves of philosophers, or in the divine pantry. The killer cannot add to his sin by committing more than one murder. However, every victim of murder would claim, if he could, that his death had a separate moral value. Thus there is an accretion of moral significance in quantity of deaths." (&)
The dyad "combattant/noncombattant" is an expression of military way of thinking, whereby each individual on the stage of war is seen as a potential threat or ennemy unless proven ...{},
This does not mean that a distinction in the numbers, say of combattants and civilians, is of no interest, but before this is possible we should try to get an understanding of the magnitude of killing produced by this war that has raged for 50 days.
which will have to wait for field research, expertise and counter-expertise) it is of great importance

Numer game example Palestine last decade, percentage combattants/non combattants

In the beginning it was not called a 'war', but a 'conflict' and politicians and journalists tended to split up this conflict in two parts: Israel-Palestine Conflict and the Israel-Lebanon Conflict. This has also been expressed by the on-line Internet Encyclopeadia 'Wikepedia' that devoted since July two different webpages to it: "Israel-Gaza conflict" and "Israel-Lebanon conflict". This carving up obscures more than it clarifies, especially because the Gaza incident (attack on Israeli Post by Palestinean commandos') of June 24 triggered the strong reaction by the Israeli Defence Force, which in its turn set off the Lebanon incident (attack on Israeli military border patrol by Hezbollah commandos) of July 12. From July 12 onwards the Lebanese case has caught the international eye, while the equally disturbing events in Gaza did get little or no attention.

General Filippo Grandi from the 'United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East' (UNWRA) said on a press conference on August 8 in Gaza: "What I want to say to you is that people here in Gaza have suffered in the same way for two months – twice the duration of the the most recent suffering in Lebanon. And it is not finished yet. The whole world has appealed for a cease fire in Lebanon. It is necessary that the whole world now concentrates on Gaza and seeks peace here and in the region."(5)

A consequence of the splitting up of the two conflicts is that the UN Security Council Resolution 1701, is only about Lebanon and Israel and leaves the Palestine case in mid-air, while anybody knows that one of the main causes for violence and instability in the region lays in the unresolved Palestine question.

Counting the victims is one, naming yet another... aming the victims
Norther Ireland example

(1) Hugo de Groot (1583-1645) from the English translation "Concerning the Law of War and Peace in Three Books" by Francis W. Kelsey;Clarendon Press; 1925; p.733-34.
(2) and on the same page: "... with the mass-communication of the modern era making propaganda an even more effective weapon in the hands of competent manipulators, the temptation to alter and distort casualty figures is even greater." taken from the Introduction of Warfare and armed conflicts, a statistical reference" Micheal Clodfelter; 1992 ;Volume I, p.xxiii.

(*) Website of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(**) "The outcome of crimes committed by IOF since 25 June 2006: 200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 44 children and 10 women, have been killed by IOF." In 'Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory', No.31/2006 3 – 9 August 2006; page 3.
(3) Website B'tselem: "3 Aug. 2006: Almost half the fatalities in the Gaza Strip in July were civilians not taking part in the hostilities"
General Filippo Grandi UNWRA 13/08/2006
(&) Gil Elliot (1931-): - Twentieth century book of the dead (1972) [Allen Lane The Penguin Press; London; p.5.

The drifting apart of the Middle East archipelago by forces of economy, ideology, religion and politics...

Socio-economic context of the three countries/territories involved in the conflict: not only exterior but also interior contradictions

Land Surface Population GDP Per Capita Income in $ Poor Poor % population Military Budget

20.770 km2

21 %

10.000 km2

28 %
West Bank
5.860 km2
46 %
no official army
365 km2
81 %
no official army

= 10.000 KM2 = $ 1 billion GDP (Gross Domestic Product ) = 1million people = $ 1.000 Per Capita Year = 1 million poor = $1 billion military budget

Source for statistical data: The World Factbook CIA; on-line edition; UNRWA web page statistics

Death Toll of the 2006 Fifty Days War

Often presented as two separate conflicts: Israel -Palestine & Israel Lebanon conflict; other names used for conlfict parts are: "The July War" and "Israel Hezbollah War", "The sixth Arab-Israeli" War"

Magnitude = 1,5 KiloDeath
1.205/1.601 death (2.100?)
1.000 death = 10 death =
(moderate estimates)
10 death =
(higher estimates)
10 death =
(killed Hezbollah
claimed by Israel)
50 days: June 24 - August 14
war day =
non-war day =
845 /1.183 /1.660 (+ Israel claim Hezbollah killed?) Lebanese
32 days since July 12
184/200 Palestinians mainly Gaza, some West-Bank; click for sources
50 days since June 24
159/161 Israelis click sources
50 days since June 24
17 Syrians in Lebanon; click for sources
August 4

in Lebanon from different countries; less than 5 for each country: Argentina, Austria, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordania, Kuwait, Nigeria, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, USA; click for sources
32 days since July 12
7/8 Canadians in Lebanon; click for sources
6 United Nations Staff in Lebanon; click for sources
July 17, 25
6 Brazilians in Lebanon; click for sources
July 13, 17, 18

Where there really manipulations with numbers of victims?

There has been a discussion on a possible manipulation of the number of deadly casualties after the Qana bombing on Sunday July 30. Some of the numbers given in the first 24 hours after the bombing were: CNN = 60 of which 37 children; BBC "at least 54 people, half of them children". The numbers given at first (also by president S) were based on a register with 63 names of people who had sought shelter in the basement of the building that was hit, minus 9 survivors located by rescue workers. Subsequent investigations came up with a lower number (from 26 to 30 killed) because several people, that had managed to escape from the ruins, were located later.(*)

Such early high numbers of casualties, after some time followed by a lower number is not really an extraordinary phenomenon. Still in the case of this conflict it gave rise to a small 'public opinion war' about alleged propaganda (from the side of either the Lebanese authorities, or Hezbollah). Suggestions were made that the attack was purposely provoked, or even staged by Hezbollah. (**) Human Right Watch was the first (for as far as I could trace) that made an assessment based on information gathered by people on the spot, and so the lower number of 28 came out. (***)
The old high number of what in the mean time had been named the "Qana Massacre" lingered on for a while, like government and Red cross official statements made from Beirut. The Human Rights Watch researcher Peter Bouckaert was quoted in the Chicago Tribune: "I don't think there's any conscious effort to inflate the numbers, I think it was the result of confusion and the fact that many had fled."

Some 'web bloggers' have used these events to discredit publicized "attrocities" or "war crimes" - alledgedly committed by the Israel Defense Force - as forgeries. (** examples) In the end,
anybody knows that aerial bombardment is an indiscriminate military tactic, and strafing cities with high power explosives does not only make buildings collapse, but tends to kill the people inside or aorund as well.

Qana 1996 slightly different figures: 102
Amnesty International
1 death lowest number = 1 death highest number
2006 Lebanon: Qana after aerial bombardment by Israeli Army: 28/29 death
To see the photographs in their original size and context click each of the 5 pictures above ...
1996 Lebanon: Qana after artillery shelling by Israeli Army: 102/106 death

To see the photographs in their original size and context click each of the 5 pictures above ...
This debate about 'manipulation of the news' made less and less sense, as the number of civilian victims was rising in the days after. On a total death toll that had reached a 'magnitude' of hundreds and and a 'factor' that was nearing the thousand, 25 victims more or less were not anymore of any importance in the public debate.

What is surprising is the lack of debate on the hidden death toll of the instigators of the fighting in the Lebanon part of the conflict: the members of the para-military organisation of Hezbollah. From the beginning the Lebanese deadly victims have been presented as "mainly civilian", and there is no question here to doubt the maginitude of the numbers given of the 3 weeks of violence. What remains unclear is to what extend do these numbers include Hezbollah fighters? Only a few (indirectly quoted sources) have given some details: 1.084 civilians, 40 police, 61 Hezbollah, 7 Amal and 1 Palestine fighter (PFLP). (****) quotes an AFP correspondent: "The crowd of relatives and friends stood in a large circle as some 30 coffins, three of them wrapped in Hizbullah's yellow flags and the rest draped with the Lebanese national colors, were carried to the graves."
(*) Alljazeerah 30/7/06
(***) Human Rights Watch, news 02/08/06

Differences and questions about total number of fatalities in Lebanon

: 25 death = Israel Defence Force claim (extra?) Hezbollah fighters killed: 25 death =
Sources: click the logo for direct link to web page; click the dates in the second column for archived web page in PDF format (archvied pages)
Associated Press
Lebanon Higher Relief Council

Israel Defense Force
+ 530
Hezbollah source
(included in official total ?)

Other victims and estimates of damage that can be counted and represented in numbers ...

100 =


100.000 =
Displaced persons

1.000 =1.000 (mainly damage estimates) =
Houses/Buildings damaged/destroyed


1 Billion dollars =
Repair costs estimates
1 Billion/Milliard =

Israel - Palestine - Lebanon and their conflicts seen in a wider space and time context

A century of wars and other violent conflicts in the Middle East: total magnitude 1,4 MegaDeath

34 X KiloDeath Wars in the Middle East
1.000 death =
1000 death =
(higher estimates)
86 years: 1920-2006
= 1 war year
BT = B'tselem reports
IBC = Iraq Body Count
MC = Micheal Clodfleter "Warfare and armed conflcits" 1992 ed. 2002 ed.;
MW = Matthew White "Historical Atlas of the 20th century";
TGC = Trends in Global Combat Data Set, 2005
WP - Wikipedia
1 Franco Syrian War = 5.000 MW
2 Lebanon Druze War = 8.000 MW
3 Arab Revolt = 5.000 MW
4 Soviet Occupation of Iran = 2.000 MW
5 Palestine Resistance = 0.5
6 Arab-Isareli War/Israel War of Independence = 8.000/21.000 MW
7 Suez War = 2.800/4.000 MC 1992
8 Lebanon Leftist Revolt = 2.000 MW
9 Iraq Coups d’Etats = 2000 MW
10 Kurdish Revolt against Iraq government = 12.000 MW
11 Yemen Civil War = 50.000/100.000 MC 1992
12 Dhofar Rebellion = 10.000 MC 1992
13 Six Day War/1967 Arab-Israeli War = 5.000/19.000 MW
14 Israel Egyptian War = 6.400 MW
15 Terrorism in the Middle East = 3.100 MC 1992
16 Iraq Purges = 2.000 MW
17 War of Attrition Egypt against Israel = 5.900 MW
18 Jordania Black September and aftermath = 2.000 MW / 3.400 (c)
19 Terrorist War Israeli/Palestinians = 4.100 MC 1992
20 Lebanon Civil War = 63.000 (c) / 100.000/150.000 MW / 162.000
21 Yom Kippur War/1973-74 Arab-Israel War = 10.000 (c) / 15.000 MW
22 Overthrow of Sjah and Revolution in Iran = 10.000/70.000 MW
23 Iran Iraq War = 600.000 (c) / 700.000/1.000.000 MW
24 Hamma Massacre in Syria = 10.000/15.000 MW
25 Israeli Invasion of Lebanon = 17.000/19.000 MW
26 South Yemen Civil War = 13.000 MC 1992
27 First Intifada = 1.332 BT / 1.750 MW /2.040 MC 2002
28 Gulf War = 27.000/100.000 MW
29 Shia Rebellion in Southern Iraq = 40.000 MW
30 Egypt Revolt Muslim Brotherhood = 1.300 MW
31 Iraq Punitive Bombing by USA = 620/2.000 MW
32 Second Intifada = 3.700 WP / 5.000 BT
33 American Invasion and Occupation of Iraq = 44.000 IBC/58.000 MW
34 Fifty Days War Palestine-Israel-Lebanon = 1.500

Why the biggest carnage in the Middle East the Iran/Iraq War of the eighties has slipped from our minds? ...

Overview of 34 wars, conflicts, revolts, repressions and terrorist actions during one century in the Middle East: 1920-2006
Events shown below have a magnitude of 1 KiloDeath ( 1.000 deaths) or more 1 pixel line = 1.000 >3.000 death: >
= Punitive Action = Civil War = Insurrection/Resistance = Invasion/Occupation = Interstate War = Terrorist Actions

Did we forget the Iran/Iraq War because - seen from 'The West' - these were "only" Islamtic countries fighting each other?

Daily news of single acts of terrorism makes one lose count... we are unable to understand the comparative scale of violence

Summary of Ten KiloDeath Wars in the Middle East
10 KiloDeath/10.000 death (moderate estimates) = 10.000 KiloDeath higher estimates = 1 war year =
First Arab Israel War/Israel War ofIndependence = 8.000/21.000
Kurdish Revolt against Iraq government = 12.000
Yemen Civil War = 50.000/100.000
Six Day War/1967 Arab-Israeli War = 5.000/19.000
Lebanon Civil War 150.000/162.000
Yom Kippur War/1973-74 Arab-Israel War = 10.0005/15.000
Overthrow of Sjah and Revolution in Iran = 10.000/70.000
Iran Iraq War 700.000/1.000.000
Hamma Massacre in Syria = 10.000/15.000
Israeli Invasion of Lebanon = 17.000/19.000
Gulf War = 27.000/100.000
Shia Rebellion in Southern Iraq = 40.000
American Invasion and Occupation of Iraq = 44.000/58.000

Sources 2006 HOLIDAYS WAR

1.071/1.600 Lebanese
1.056 (08/12)
+ 530 Hezbollah
Israel Defense Force
Almost from the beginning of the 'siege' this volunteer group has kept a log of events and also made two detailed maps that document the Israel Air Force air raids on Lebanon and the resulting cost in human live and material damage. The number is taken from one of these maps (bombed locations). Most places have been pounded from the air so many times that the mapmakers lost control of their graphics, the later maps are totally cluttered with symbols...Check also the list of events.
Checked & documented 2006-08-14 tj
"List of 180 dead Hezbollah terrorists released of an estimated 530 killed since start of fighting". N.B. the actual name list is NOT given, this is a news dispatch describing how the list with the 180 names are dropped over Lebanon.
Checked & documented 2006-08-14 tj

184/200 Palestinians
163 (up to the end of July)
Palestine Red Crescent Society
184 (08/08)
United Nations NY department of Public Information
200 (08/09)
Palestinian Centre Human Rights
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories: "In July, the Israeli military killed 163 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, 78 of whom (48 percent) were not taking part in the hostilities when they were killed." Webpage.
Checked & documented 2006-08-14 tj
Monthly reports: issues June, July, August 2006; starting counting on June 24.till August 6. NB 2006 details at bootom of tables.
Checked & documented 2006-08-14 tj
Press Release IHA/1212. HUMANITARIAN FACTSHEET ON LEBANON, OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY: "Since 28 June, when Operation Summer Rains (the IDF code name of the military operation), 184 Palestinians, including 42 children, have been killed; 650 Palestinians injured." Weekly Report 31 [August 9] On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: "The outcome of crimes committed by IOF since 25 June 2006: 200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 44 children and 10 women, have been killed by IOF [Istaeli Occupying Forces tj.]."
Checked & documented 2006-08-14 tj

157 Israelis
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Israel-Hizbullah conflict: Victims of rocket attacks and IDF casualties: "Since July 12, 43 Israeli civilians and 114 IDF soldiers have been killed." A webpage with almost all names and portrait photographs of the victims. NB Israeli victims of the Palestenian/Gaza side of the conflict since June 24 are NOT mentioned here.
Archive 22/08/06
Checked & documented 2006-08-15 tj

17 Syrians

15 citizens of different countries
Argentina = 1; Australia = 1; Germany = 4; India = 1; Indonesia = 1; Iraq = 1; Jordan = 1; Kuwait = 1; Nigeria = 1; Palestinians in lebanon = 2; Philippines = 2; Sri Lanka = 1; Ukraine = 1; Unied Styates = 2
Article "Casualties of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict" with detailed sources.
Checked & documented 2006-08-07 tj.

7/8 Canadians
Vancouver Sun
Article Sunday July 16:"Canadians killed in Lebanon"
Checked & documented 2006-08-07 tj.

6 United Nations Staff
Lebanon UNIFIL
United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon; Press Releases in PDF format: July 19; 26 July 2006. 4 military and 2 civlian employess.
Checked & documented 2006-08-07 tj
Article: "Attacks on United Nations personnel during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict"
Checked & documented 2006-08-07 tj

6 Brazilians
Peoples Daily Online, China
Article July 19
Checked & documented 2006-08-07 tj.