Raymond M. Berger
Real Bullet Points

Is Israel Causing Too Many Casualties in Gaza?

Nine of ten homes in Gaza contained military assets.

In his March 7, 2024 State of the Union address, US President Joe Biden discussed Israel’s recent intervention in the Gaza Strip. He acknowledged Hamas’ October 7, 2023 attack on Israel and the killings of Israelis. But he also claimed that Israel has killed over 30,000 Palestinians, “most of whom are not Hamas.” He referred to “thousands and thousands of innocents —women and children. Girls and boys also orphaned.”

Even worse, the Biden administration has held up the delivery of some military supplies to Israel, based on Biden’s casualty claims.

It is unfortunate that Biden relied on casualty counts claimed by Hamas, a terrorist organization.

But what is the truth? And what does the public need to know about Hamas’ conduct in this war?

Is Israel killing an unprecedented number of Gazan civilians?

Tactics and Statistics

International media have generally relied on Gazan casualty estimates provided by the Gaza Ministry of Public Health, a government agency controlled by Hamas. Information from this ministry is widely regarded as suspect because of Hamas’ history of exaggerating casualty statistics for propaganda purposes. Recently the United Nations reduced by an astonishing 50% the number of women and children estimated to have been killed.

In the current war, the estimated civilian to combatant ratio is 1 or 2 civilians killed for each combatant—-according to various military sources, most notably, Richard Kemp, former head of British forces in Afghanistan. This ratio is unprecedented in the history of modern warfare. (It is more typically 7 to 9 civilian deaths to one killed combatant.) IDF conduct is especially impressive given that the terrorists fight from school yards, hospitals, mosques and crowded residential neighborhoods. When Gazans have tried to evacuate areas in response to IDF warnings (phone calls, leaflets, social media posts) Hamas has at times forced their own people back into target areas at gunpoint.

Consider that Israel has an Air Force and the Gazans do not. Israel could have done what Russia did in Chechnya, and what the Allies did in Germany. That is, it could have bombed wide areas. Rather, Israel used ground troops to its own detriment because ground combat is far more deadly for Israeli troops than aerial bombardment. Israel thereby sacrificed the lives of young Israeli soldiers in order to save civilian lives of its enemies.

A You-tuber presented a video of an interview with an Israeli soldier, injured, and returned to Israel. His squad went into 10 houses to root out terrorists. Nine of the ten homes contained military assets–a tunnel entrance, assault weapons, explosives, and other military equipment. Hamas has obscured the distinction between civilian and combatant. Hamas fighters never wear uniforms. This endangers their own people.

The Israeli government has not obstructed civilian humanitarian aid trucks. One exception: a small group of Israelis commandeered 3 or 4 humanitarian supply trucks and unloaded the goods so they could not be delivered. They did that because they believed that Israel should not be feeding the enemy as long as the enemy is holding our hostages. CNN gave this incident a full length feature story, while downplaying Hamas-caused destruction in Israel.

Destruction and Hostages

And speaking of destruction in Israel: consider the bias of Western media. Western media present countless scenes of destruction and death in Gaza. They present almost no visual images of destruction in Israel, although thousands of Israeli homes have been destroyed by rockets and RPG fire. Thousands of Israelis have been unable to return to their homes for the past 7 months.

There are still about 132 hostages hidden not only in tunnels but also in houses scattered over many locations. (Some hostages have been murdered.) There must be thousands of Gazans who have seen Israeli hostages and have information about where they have been or are currently. If Gazans believed they would go hungry unless they revealed the location of hostages to the IDF, they would have done so and many Israeli lives would have been saved.

The US President is defending neither American nor Israeli interests by relying on Hamas’ misrepresentations about casualties in Gaza. And Western journalists’ uncritical acceptance of Hamas propaganda is an odd stance toward a terrorist organization that, given the chance, would quash the independence of the very journalists who give the terrorists a free pass.

About the Author
The author is a life-long Zionist and advocate for Israel. He believes that a strong Jewish state is invaluable, not only to Jews, but to the world-wide cause of democracy and human rights. Dr. Berger earned a PhD in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has twenty-seven years of teaching experience. He has authored and co-authored three books as well as over 45 professional journal articles and book chapters. His parents were Holocaust survivors.
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