Alan Stein

By UN’s standards, civilian casualties in Gaza very low

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres, who can’t bring himself to unequivocally condemn Hamas’ terrorism, incessantly criticizes Israel for the way it’s defending itself. Ironically, information provided by the UN itself as well as Hamas proves his criticism is totally unjustified, with the level of civilian casualties astonishingly low.

The “Meetings Coverage” put out by the United Nations for the May 25, 2022 Security Council Meeting is entitled “Ninety Per Cent of War-Time Casualties Are Civilians, Speakers Stress, Pressing Security Council to Fulfill Responsibility, Protect Innocent People in Conflicts.” It begins “With civilians accounting for nearly 90 percent of war-time casualties … ”

So how does the percentage of civilian casualties in the war Hamas started with its 10/7 pogrom compare with that 90% average?

As I write this, the latest report I read indicated there have been 17,000 killed in Gaza, with 7,000 of them being terrorists. Since the 17,000 figure originates with Hamas, which routinely inflates casualty figures, it’s not unlikely the actual figure is smaller. Also possible, but less likely, is that the actual figure is higher. Since the figure about the number of terrorists killed comes from Israeli sources, it’s probably relatively accurate, although it’s not unlikely some not counted as terrorists actually were.

Using those figures, it appears that 10,000 of the 17,000 killed in Gaza were civilians. This comes to less than 60%, far less than the 90% norm reported by the United Nations.

Put another way, more than 40% of those killed were terrorists, an amazingly high percentage even if one doesn’t consider other factors at play in Gaza that generally aren’t in play in other wars.

Most armies don’t embed their fighters in civilian areas. Even those that do generally don’t base themselves in and under homes, schools, hospitals, mosques and childrens playgrounds. Nor do they usually transport their fighters in ambulances.

All those factors make it even more impressive that the proportion of civilian casualties in Gaza is so low.

Looked at another way, the norm put forth by the UN is that combatants constitute about 10% of the deaths in war, so the IDF has been 4 times as efficient in making sure it kills enemy combatants rather than non-combatants than the norm!

Naturally, we shouldn’t expect Israel to get any credit for this, just more double standards and more pressure to do the impossible, not to mention agree to a premature ceasefire so that Hamas can rearm, strengthen itself and follow through with its promise to repeat its 10/7 massacre again and again.

About the Author
Alan Stein is a retired mathematician (Ph.D. Courant Institute) and college professor (University of Connecticut) who was long active in Jewish communal affairs in the United States before deciding after retirment to spend winters in Israel, making aliyah with his wife in 2014 and splitting his time between Netanya and Natick, Massachusetts. He was CAMERA's Letter Writer of the Year in 2015 and enjoys playing tennis, bike riding, swimming, playing with computers and shopping at the shuk in Netanya.
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