Unhappy with the context-hidden journalism on much of the foreign media, I began in-depth research into the real numbers of Gaza casualties.
Finding it reprehensible that reporters were fitting their headlines into an Israeli blame game, I went in search of facts and statistics.
I swerved Israeli-based numbers. I knew that, even with accurate figures, they would be rejected by a media that already had a jaundiced editorial bias against Israel.
I dug deeply and discovered information being issued by none other than the Gaza Ministry of Health, not exactly a Zionist medical institute. Incredibly, this Hamas-run facility was publishing daily casualty lists that included the names, ages, and even where and how people died. It was relatively easy to compile groupings based on their details. The lists I built were children, women/females, elderly, and men of fighting age.
With these groupings it was immediately clear that women and children were never the majority Gaza casualties. I and others began challenging the false news put out by the media. We did this in the social media, a forum I found that was broadcasting more detailed context than the so-called professional mainstream media. I cannot say that the noise we made alarmed Hamas but on Friday, July 25, the Gaza Ministry of Health stopped publishing individual details of their casualties.
Perhaps it was the UN that demanded casualties figures but, several days later, the Gaza Ministry of Health began headlining total deaths and a breakdown of certain groups including children (up to the age of 18), women, and elderly. Clearly, Hamas wanted to emphasize these media sensitive groups for propaganda purposes which the media, indeed, lapped up. But what it did was to also throw up and expose the suspect group, the one that represents men of fighting age. By simply crunching the numbers it reconfirmed that combatant aged males, not women or children, constituted the largest casualty group.
Of course, not all males in this category were terrorists but where the deaths were in areas of serious fighting after the civilian population had fled, it takes a large leap of imagination to claim they were not involved in enemy action in some form or another.
The Meir Amit Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) is conducting deep research, digging deep to match names to those identified as known terrorists. The problem with this is it cannot link names to people killed who do not appear in their intelligence database. Many enemy fighters are unknown to ITIC. The sixteen year old that popped out of the ground near Kibbutz Ein HaShlosha is a typical example.
My numbers by August 6 showed a total body count of 1886 of which 1126 were men of fighting age. ITIC figures indicate a ratio on one civilian to one terrorist. Although I put the figures at closer to one terrorist to less than one civilian let’s take ITIC conservative numbers. This is an important ratio when discussing “disproportionate” casualties, a charge constantly leveled at Israel. I spoke with Colonel Richard Kemp, former Commander of British forces in Afghanistan. He quotes a ratio of three civilians to one enemy dead in Afghanistan, a ration of four civilians to one terrorist in Iraq, and a ratio of five civilians to one combatant in Russia’s war in Chechnya. This actually proves the IDF acted with more precision than armies in other conflicts.
There is a further and significant factor that radically increases the percentages of combatant-aged male casualties than women and children in Gaza. Women and children up to age fifteen make up a whopping 71% of the Gazan population, yet their casualty numbers are far less than fighting age men, despite all the headlines to the contrary by the media.
None of these figures take into account the quoted 475 errant Hamas rockets that landed on civilian sites and public facilities within Gaza killing many Palestinians. Neither does it include more than sixty people killed by Hamas for protesting their violence or for alleged collaboration with Israel. How many of the casualties were victims of the Hamas policy of holding them hostages, known as human shields, in Israel’s actions against terror targets in Hamas’s cynical war, despite repeated Israel warnings to clear an area of intended action.
This litany of Gaza casualties would be incomplete without this additional talking point. Consider 4712 Israeli air strikes in heavily populated areas, followed by intensive Israeli artillery bombardment to soften up enemy concentrations in dense urban locations, prior to the incursion of tanks preparing the way for special units and ground forces. All this, and yet only 1886 casualties in a tight population area of 1,800,000 people.
My research is incomplete, but I can assure you that, once again, the casualty figure is disproportionately low compared to all other conflicts including Kosovo, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and Chechnya.
Whichever way you cut the figures, when it comes to military proportionality, Israel’s IDF is the most moral and exemplary fighting force in military history.
Barry Shaw is the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’ www.israelnarrative.com
He is also the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to the Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College.