Civilian Deaths in Gaza: Relatively Low

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February 4, 2024

5 min read

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The death toll among civilians in Gaza — even including children and women — is among the lowest in the history of comparable warfare. The media’s double standard against Israel buries this.

You wouldn't know it from the hectoring decision just rendered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Israel, but the death toll among civilians in Gaza — even including children and women — is among the lowest in the history of comparable warfare. Over the past several months, it has become even lower.

According to The New York Times, "The daily death toll in Gaza has more than halved in the past month," and has fallen almost two-thirds since late October. Moreover, the percentage of civilian to combatant causalities has gone down considerably as well.

In a massive understatement, The New York Times also reported that these considerable reductions in civilian deaths have been "somewhat overlooked" by the media and critics. "Somewhat"! They have been totally buried and ignored. The New York Times also opined that Israel's "harshest critics are wrong to accuse it of wanting to maximize civilian deaths."

It is no accident that this reduced civilian death toll has been "somewhat overlooked" by the media and by Israel's critics, including previously by The New York Times itself. Israel is subject to a discernible double standard when it comes to covering its military actions.

Even before the recent dramatic reduction in civilian deaths, Israel's military actions produced far fewer deaths and a far lower ratio of civilian-to-combatant deaths than in any comparable urban warfare. This is especially significant considering the reality that Hamas deliberately increases civilian deaths by using women and children as human shields and by hiding its military personnel and equipment among civilians. The current ratio of civilian-to-combatant is well below two-to-one, which compares extremely favorably with ratios achieved by other Western democracies in urban warfare.

Critics of Israel almost never cite comparable data from other military encounters. This omission creates the false impression that the civilian death tolls in Gaza are among the highest in history, when they are in fact among the lowest.

Every actual death of an innocent civilian — especially among babies and very young children — is a tragedy. It is these deaths that are always highlighted by Hamas to the media, but no one knows how many such deaths are actually among this most vulnerable segment of the population, and how many of those are the result of Hamas deliberately using young children as shields.

The Hamas figures for total deaths do not purport to distinguish combatants from what they consider civilian deaths. They never give the ages of the "children" they claim have been killed, although they regard anyone under the age of 19 as a child, even if they are active combatants. Hamas has recruited fighters as young as 13 to 19. The Hamas figures also do not count the Gazans who were killed by errant rockets launched by terrorists, or Gazans who were killed by Hamas for refusing its orders not to move to safer locations.

The New York Times' conclusion that the new data suggests that it is "wrong to accuse [Israel] of wanting to maximize civilian deaths" is highly relevant to the false charges of genocide that are being considered by the International Court of Justice.

Nations engaged in genocide do not go to such great lengths trying to reduce civilian casualties, including placing its own soldiers at heightened risk by employing focused ground forces instead of relying exclusively on air and sea bombardments.

Nations engaged in genocide do not go to such great lengths trying to reduce civilian casualties, including placing its own soldiers at heightened risk by employing focused ground forces instead of relying exclusively on air and sea bombardments. The ICJ should immediately reject the genocide charges against Israel and initiate war crime charges against Hamas and Iran, both of which willfully try to increase civilian deaths.

The decreasing civilian death rate among Gazans should also end the campaign to impose a ceasefire on Israel before the IDF completes its legitimate mission to destroy Hamas' military capacity. Successfully completing that mission will save civilian lives in the long run, by reducing Hamas' capacity to keep its promise of repeating the barbarism of October 7 and also by reducing its use of civilian shields.

Israel's conduct in its defensive war, started by Hamas, has been exemplary. It satisfies all international standards, and its effort to minimize civilian deaths while accomplishing its legitimate goals has generally been successful. There is always a tradeoff between reducing enemy civilian deaths and increasing risks to one's own soldiers and civilians. Israel has struck a better balance than most, following the unprecedented Hamas barbarisms.

The time has come, indeed it is long overdue, for the world to stop imposing a double standard on the nation-state of the Jewish people. Double standards are a form of bigotry, and when bigotry is addressed to the only nation-state of the Jewish people, it becomes a form of international antisemitism against the Jew among nations. It must stop.

This op-ed originally appeared in The Gatestone Institute’s website.

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Leo
Leo
3 months ago

Re "democracies"

"Democracy" is a bogus term behind which a few rule over the many: The Civilized World's 2-Class System: The Class of Ruling Psychopaths & The Non-Ruling Underclass

"There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. [...]. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies [...]. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable laws of business. The world is a business [...]." --- from the 1976 movie “Network”

"We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." --- Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice

DW Duke
DW Duke
27 days ago
Reply to  Leo

You are correct that the United States is not a democracy. It is a constitutional republic.

anonymous
anonymous
3 months ago

This article has many words but almost no content. The title of the paper claims that civilian deaths in Gaza are "relatively low," but nowhere in the paper does the author provide any evidence of that. For example, the author claims that "Critics of Israel almost never cite comparable data from other military encounters," but then fails to cite comparable data from other military encounters, like a serious author would. Very weak article.

DW Duke
DW Duke
3 months ago
Reply to  anonymous

I will provide some data. The US dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 killing 230,000 people intentionally targeting civilians. Britain bombed Dresden for two days straight killing 250,000 people. The Syrian War killed 300,000 and the war in Yemen resulted in 150,000 deaths. No one says a word. Israel suffers a brutal attack and takes the appropriate action and attempts to destroy Hamas who caused the conflict and hides behind civilians resulting in an uncertain number of deaths but always lies. Dershowitz is not guilty of failing to provide the details, he simply makes the mistake of assuming the reader knows history and current affairs.

Gershom
Gershom
3 months ago

To combat & question - the egregiously inflated numbers or false claims given by our enemies. We need to start showing authenticated (Arab) videos - like the one - that showed a supposed innocent Hamas man - they said - was killed by Israel - who fell off of the burial stretcher. Then - he got back up on the stretcher - by himself - as they continued the sham funeral parade. The video showing the young boy - Israel supposedly killed - who shows up later - in another Hamas video. Show the evidence that showed an ambulance they claimed was rocketed by Israel - only the sheet metal on the roof - was pointing outward - not inward - had it been hit by an Israeli rocket. Let's also teach our 4000-K year History in this land.

Dvirah
Dvirah
3 months ago
Reply to  Gershom

Don’t forget the two men with the stretcher who carried “body” after “body” until they dropped the stretcher accidentally and the “body” jumped up and ran away…while a replaying of the video proved that each “body” was the same as the man who fled!

Melanie Gadsdon
Melanie Gadsdon
3 months ago

It is just an excuse to protest here in London against Israel when they’re really meaning anti semitic whining.

Daniel
Daniel
3 months ago

One is already too many - don't you think?

Dvirah
Dvirah
3 months ago
Reply to  Daniel

One what?

David
David
3 months ago

Firstly: I'm 100% behind Israel.

I'd like to know which other conflicts you are referring to with higher civilian to militant ratios. Also what are those ratios and what is the Gaza ratio.

How many of these conflicts are considered legitimate e.g. not involving the actions of dictators.

Marc
Marc
3 months ago
Reply to  David

gaza is exclusively urban combat, whereas most wars involve conventional battle fields and maybe urban warfare, it is hard to get statistics for just urban war, but the ratio of civilian deaths is likely worse than what is happening in gaza.

joe
joe
3 months ago

Civilian-to-Combatant deaths:
Gaza: (2:1)
Normative International Combat Engagements: (9:1)

-U.N. Security Council SC/14904, May 25, 2022.

And that is using the media's source for the casualty numbers in Gaza, which are attributed to the Gaza health ministry. This should come to no one’s surprise, at least not to anyone who isn’t a woke millennial TikToker, but, Hamas is obviously lying.

A simple look at the day-to-day casualty figures that the UN publishes from Hamas produces a large number of immediately obvious and significant anomalies:

For example, on Oct. 19, the TOTAL casualty number increased by 307, yet the number of children killed went increased by 671. Nor was that the only time such a thing happened...

Norman Majer
Norman Majer
3 months ago

If Israel had really wanted to commit genocide, the war would have been over months ago, and all Gazans would have been dead. And no Israelis soldiers would have been killed, because they would have just bombed from sea and air.

Daniel
Daniel
3 months ago

If you're gullible enough to swallow this poppycock that bologna Health Ministry has put out, I would like to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge for $10 K a fair price. The amount of deaths are so padded that an average person on their own should acknowledge that it is Pure Puff!!! What is a 'civilian' living under the thumb of the slime Hamas. Hamas just rounded up over 75 men that had been protesting their horrible treatment in Gaza. They were paraded without shirts most likely to be tortured to the point of death.

Allene Kearney
Allene Kearney
3 months ago

Double standard imposed upon Jewish people and Israel is the song of the century.

Alan S.
Alan S.
3 months ago

A great essay putting Israels actions in a less horrible light. What will our rampaging youth say?

Barb
Barb
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan S.

Even if they see it with their own warped vision, the twisted anti-Semitic minds of those young idiots won't accept the facts in front of them proving that Israel's reaction to its rabid enemies' brutality is disproportionately more humane than any remotely similar incident in recorded history; they'd rather accept blatant Arab lies, let them continue spilling their bleeding hearts until they plotz!

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