As Israel escalates its war in Gaza, it has also escalated its claims about the ratio of militants to civilians killed by its strikes. Israel alleges that the civilian to militant death ratio is a 2:1 ratio, meaning that for every two civilians killed, one militant is killed. However, these claims have been challenged by experts and human rights groups, who say that they are based on unreliable and inconsistent data, and that they do not match the reality on the ground.
According to the Gaza Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza and launched the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, more than 5,500 Palestinians have been killed and more than 25,000 wounded in Gaza since the start of the war. The ministry says that most of the casualties are civilians, including women and children, and that many of the dead and injured are still buried under the rubble of their homes.
Israel, however, disputes these figures, and says that they are inflated and manipulated by Hamas, which it accuses of using civilians as human shields and hiding its fighters and weapons among the population. Israel says that it has killed more than 5,000 Hamas militants, and that the civilian casualties are much lower than what Hamas claims. Israel says that it bases its estimates on intelligence sources, such as aerial surveillance, phone intercepts, and informants.
However, experts and human rights groups say that Israel’s claims are not credible or verifiable, and that they are contradicted by the evidence and the testimonies of the witnesses and the survivors. They say that Israel’s claims are part of a propaganda campaign, aimed at fending off criticism and accountability over its disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force, and its violation of international humanitarian law.
Numbers Don’t Match
One of the main problems with Israel’s claims is that they do not match the demographic profile of the population in Gaza, which is one of the youngest and most densely populated places in the world. According to the UN, more than 50% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are under the age of 18, and more than 40% are under the age of 15. Therefore, it is statistically improbable that the majority of the casualties would be adult males, as Israel suggests.
Another problem with Israel’s claims is that they do not match the physical evidence of the damage and the destruction caused by its strikes, which have targeted residential areas, schools, hospitals, mosques, and other civilian infrastructure. According to the UN, more than 100,000 buildings have been damaged or destroyed in Gaza, displacing more than 600,000 people and leaving more than 1.5 million people without access to water, electricity, or health services. Therefore, it is implausible that the majority of the casualties would be militants, as Israel implies.
A third problem with Israel’s claims is that they do not match the legal and moral standards of the international humanitarian law, which requires parties to a conflict to distinguish between combatants and civilians, and to take all feasible precautions to avoid or minimize harm to civilians. According to the UN, Israel has failed to comply with these principles, and has shown a reckless disregard for the lives and the rights of the civilians in Gaza. Therefore, it is unacceptable that Israel would try to justify or rationalize its actions, as Israel attempts.
Israel’s ‘kill-rate’ claims in Gaza war, therefore, do not add up, and paint a picture of the war that makes no sense. They are challenged by experts and human rights groups, who say that they are based on unreliable and inconsistent data, and that they do not match the reality on the ground. They are also challenged by the people of Gaza, who have endured and witnessed the horrors and the tragedies of the war, and who demand justice and accountability for the crimes and the violations committed against them.