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Hamas’ Phony Statistics on Civilian Deaths

August 7, 2014 11:26 pm 13 comments
A distribution comparing the dead in Gaza to the actual population, refuting accusations of indiscriminate killing by the IDF; most of the dead have been combatant-age males. Photo: Elder of Ziyon

A distribution comparing the dead in Gaza to the actual population, refuting accusations of indiscriminate killing by the IDF; most of the dead have been combatant-age males. Photo: Elder of Ziyon

It’s a mystery why so many in the media accept as gospel Hamas-supplied figures on the number of civilians killed in the recent war.  Hamas claims that of the more than 1800 Palestinians killed close to 90% were civilians. Israel, on the other hand, says that close to half of them were combatants. The objective facts support a number much closer to Israel’s than to Hamas’.

Even human rights groups antagonistic to Israel acknowledge, according to a New York Times report, that Hamas probably counts among the “civilians killed by Israel” the following groups: Palestinians killed by Hamas as collaborators; Palestinians killed through domestic violence; Palestinians killed by errant Hamas rockets or mortars; and Palestinians who died naturally during the conflict. I wonder if Hamas also included the reported 162 children who died while performing child slave labor in building their terror tunnels. Hamas also defines combatants to include only armed fighters who were killed while fighting Israelis. They exclude Hamas supporters who build tunnels, who allow their homes to be used to store and fire rockets, Hamas policemen, members of the Hamas political wing and others who work hand in hand with the armed terrorists.

Several years ago I came up with a concept which I call, the “continuum of civilianality”—an inelegant phrase that is intended to convey the reality that who is a civilian and who is a combatant is often a matter of degree. Clearly every child below the age in which he or she is capable of assisting Hamas is a civilian. Clearly every Hamas fighter who fires rockets, bears arms, or operates in the tunnels is a combatant. Between these extremes lie a wide range of people, some of whom are closer to the civilian end, many of whom who are closer to the combatant end.  The law of war has not established a clear line between combatants and civilians, especially in the context of urban warfare where people carry guns at night and bake bread during the day, or fire rockets during the day and go back home to sleep with their families at night. (Interestingly the Israeli Supreme Court has tried to devise a functional definition of combatants in the murky context of urban guerrilla warfare.)

Data published by the New York Times strongly suggests that a very large number—perhaps a majority—of those killed are closer to the combatant end of the continuum than to the civilian end. First of all, the vast majority of those killed have been male rather than female. In an Islamic society, males are far more likely to be combatants than females. Second, most of those killed are within the age range (15-40) that are likely to be combatants. The vast majority of these are male as well. The number of people over 60 who have been killed is infinitesimal. The number of children below the age of 15 is also relatively small, although their pictures have been shown more frequently than others. In other words, the genders and ages of those killed are not representative of the general population of Gaza. It is far more representative of the genders and ages of combatants. These data strongly suggest that a very large percentage of Palestinians killed are on the combatant side of the continuum.

They also prove, as if any proof were necessary to unbiased eyes, that Israel did not target civilians randomly. If it had, the dead would be representative of the Gaza population in general, rather than of the subgroups most closely identified with combatants.

The media should immediately stop using Hamas-approved statistics, which in the past have proved to be extremely unreliable.  Instead, they should try to document, independently, the nature of each person killed and describe their age, gender, occupation, affiliation with Hamas and other objective factors relevant to their status as a combatant, non-combatant or someone in the middle.  It is lazy and dangerous for the media to rely on Hamas-approved propaganda figures. In fact, when the infamous Goldstone Report falsely stated that the vast majority of people killed in Operation Cast Lead were civilians and not Hamas fighters, many in Gaza complained to Hamas. They accused Hamas of cowardness for allowing so many civilians to be killed while protecting their own fighters. As a result of these complaints, Hamas was forced to tell the truth:  namely that many more of those killed were actually Hamas fighters or armed policemen. It is likely that Hamas will make a similar “correction” with regard to this conflict. But that correction will not be covered by the media, as the prior correction was not.

The headline—”Most of those killed by Israel were children, women and the elderly”—will continue to be the conventional wisdom, despite its factual falsity. Unless it is corrected, Hamas will continue with its “dead baby strategy” and more people on both sides will die.


  • How can there be a higher level of casualties than the demographic level ? I never got that…

  • There are other dimensions between combattant and civilian; such as, are you a civilian if you knowingly use your home to hide tunnel entries into Israel? If you know that your hospital or schools store rocket launchers and munitions? Ae you a civilian if you are warned that your home is a military target and you should leave; yet you (and your children) stand on a rooftop and wave to the overhead planes? More likely abetting a crime in the former and committing suicide in the latter.

    • Shylock of Notre Dame

      Aye, but there is the rub, Hamas is shooting its missiles purposely from any remnant of any moderate left in Gaza’s property. That’s their whole shtick. All antisemitism does that. there is no way to win against any antisemitic calculation. If Israel keeps doing what it is responsible to do, it will kill and destry the house of every moderate or person who questioned evil. This same tactic is used by antisemites worldwide. Take Tesco for example. Tesco’s creator was a big supporter of Israel, so by the antisemites who took it over with British Governement help, boycotting Israel, you are left with 2 options if you want to do the right thing: not shop at the supermarket a Zionist Holocaust survivivng family created for Britain and shop lea’s say at Aldis whose owner stole his first shop from Jude as a soldier in the Nazi army, or agree to boycotting Israel.

      It is the same thing the French antisemites are doing in 100 different ways this decade, and the Polish antisemites too, but none worse than the French. If we defend the Shul from a vilent riot we know and have no doubt, the only story will be how evil and terrorist the JDL is or whoever defends the Shul and the weak old people within it, we know the police cynically will help the rioters, and if we respond the press will talk about not for a day but for generations if not thousands of years, about how evil the JDL was, there will be no memory that there were thousands of antisemite violnet daily riots on the street. In fact the average French person has no clue that there is antisemitism in France, it is all a reaction to the violent Jews, that’s what the press tells them, the pretty Catholic politicians, and the worst antisemites who all suddenly “discover” their “Jewish” roots, blame Satmar for that trick. Meanwhile in the end of the day Jews are attacked verbally and physically, and it is blamed on them, by the “left” of taday and everyone else, and in some exxagerated Orwellian future here today, they call themselves a resistence, or an underdog, or a response. Also it is racism to not allow the most racist NON persecuted group who ever lived the Arab Muslims who went from 1% of the Middle East to violently controlling it and calling themselves indigenous, to call you racist. It’s Democracy itself turned into a totalitarian tool of racism and bogotry to destroy all minorities smaller than ISlam in the Western world, and the left hispanics and Islam knows it, Obama knows it his unprecedented spike in visas to Arab cand Muslim countries is my evidence.

  • The BBC have published on their news website the number of casualties in Gaza, allegedly compiled by three people but taken, of course, straight from statistics provided by Hamas. There are only five recorded deaths of Hamas fighters! How biased in that?

  • Lauren Goldman

    The Geneva Convention clearly states in Article 51(7) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, “The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favor or impede military operations.”

    There is way too much actual news footage and photographs of Hamas firing rockets from densely populated areas and using human shields (especially children) for a rational person to attribute any other cause for the high civilian casualty numbers. IDF calls ahead to warn civilians to vacate a specific targeted site. Hamas forces them to stay. It is still a military target. Even the Germans did not use human shields, they were soldiers, not disgusting cowards who wear masks and hide behind women and children.

    The reason the world is so willing to believe the Hamas version of the Gaza conflict is that it allows an always present-but-dormant anti-Semitism to be expressed in an acceptable way. I have found that among people who have voiced pro-‘palestinian’ opinions to me concerning the conflict, a majority, if allowed to talk long enough, will let their personal negative feelings toward Jews in general slip through. It is frustrating/disheartening, but given our history, not unexpected.

  • Fredric M London

    It is a genuine crime that Israel gave up again. They need to totally destroy Hamas, and demilitarize Gaza once and for all. If that means occupation, so be it. Let the Jew hating world go scratch, Israel needs to put its citizens’ safety first.

  • Thank you Alan for bringing reason to the discussion and offering lucidity where before we were subjected to propaganda. In a culture where lying is not only accepted but expected (OK to lie if it furthers the cause of Islam according to the Koran) it is difficult to discern truth from fiction. You have to know the actors and so as a play on words from a popular TV commercial for a financial institution,”When Hamas speaks, no one listens.”

  • Is Hamas really given to thinking? Is MSM really interested in objectivity? As the answer is no to both, expecting either is a futile activity.

  • Jeff Blankfort

    Dershowitz is nothing more than a piece of Zionist garbage (excuse the redundancy) who has consistently lied about everything connected to this conflict. I have been reading the NY Times as well as other media and all of them report that up to 70% of the Palestinian victims have been women and children and that’s also what I have seem on the TV.

  • We’ve always doubted the numbers the Jews use to describe their ‘Hollohoax’ experience.

    Now, that the shoe is on the other foot.
    Whooops, they sound like the Goyim and the Jews’ ‘doctored’ numbers.

    Nothing new under the sun, huh MF’er’s?!

  • Query: is it time to revise the Geneva Convention to take into account the changed nature of asymmetric and urban warfare the has become so common in the Middle East? The Conventions were written in the immediate wake of a very terrible but very conventional (in many ways) war. Things have changed and maybe the Conventions need a change as well.

  • Shylock of Notre Dame

    I think the Hamas figures though not correct, you may also need to take into consideration, that one of the main formative members of Hamas who wrote the manual on Hamas’s strategy, a member of the Iranian government said yesterday, or at least a translation reached the public yesterday, that Hamas does not allow any civilains to take shelter in their luxury bunkers, Iran had built for them, because Israeli drones can’t see the bunkers. It may be (I truly hope not) that though most of the casualties were combatants, they were not the first grade combatants who were safely in the luxury bunkers for the whole war.

    Either way we need a way to get their bunkers, and not just their terror tunnels.

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