Friday, July 25, 2014

WikiLeaks and the Gaza War

The New York Times tucked a remarkable statistic into the tail-end of an article on WikiLeaks’s latest document dump, one with ramifications for the ongoing delegitimization campaign against Israel: for most of the last century, thenormal civilian-to-combatant wartime fatality ratio has been 10:1.
Civilians have borne the brunt of modern warfare, with 10 civilians dying for every soldier in wars fought since the mid-20th century, compared with 9 soldiers killed for every civilian in World War I, according to a 2001 study by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
This elicits an obvious question: if civilians routinely account for 90 percent of all casualties in modern warfare, why is the world up in arms about the civilian casualty rate in last year’s Israel-Hamas war in Gaza — which, by even the most anti-Israel account, was markedly lower?
If one accepts the Israel Defense Forces’ statistics, then noncombatants accounted for only 39 percent of Palestinian fatalities — less than half the standard 90 percent rate noted by the ICRC. Nongovernmental organizations obviously cite a much higher civilian casualty rate. But even they put it below 90 percent.

According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Israeli forces killed 1,390 Palestinians in the war, including 759 noncombatants, 349 combatants, 248 Palestinian policemen, two in targeted assassinations (bizarrely, these aren’t classified as either combatants or noncombatants), and 32 whose status it couldn’t determine. The policemen are listed separately because their status is disputed: Israel says the Hamas-run police force served as an auxiliary army unit; Palestinians say the policemen were noncombatants.
Omitting the 34 whom B’Tselem didn’t classify, these figures show civilians comprising 74 percent of total fatalities if the policemen are considered noncombatants, and 56 percent if they’re considered combatants. Either way, the ratio is well below the 90 percent norm.
The most anti-Israel accounting, from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, lists 1,417 Palestinian fatalities, including 236 combatants, 926 civilians, and 255 policemen. But even these figures, if we assume the policemen were noncombatants, put civilians at only 83 percent of total deaths — less than the proportion the Red Cross deemed the norm back in 2001. Treating the policemen as combatants lowers the rate to 65 percent.
Whichever numbers you choose, the civilian casualty rate was high. But as the ICRC data make clear, high civilian casualty rates are normal — indeed, inevitable — in modern warfare, in which combatants often don’t wear uniforms and fight from among the civilian population, making them hard to distinguish from noncombatants. Judged against this global norm, the IDF, far from demonstrating callous disregard for civilian casualties, has actually been unusually successful at minimizing them.
But there’s an even more important lesson to be learned here: if critics truly want to change this norm, they must stop making this modus operandi so profitable for the terrorists. As long as terrorists know that fighting from among civilians will result in opprobrium not for them but — because of the inevitable civilian casualties — for any of their victims who dare to fight back, they will have every incentive to keep doing it.

On Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 12:51 PM, <> wrote:
yes 1:1 is miraculous

You could include (if you can find it) a link to the UN study which Richard Kemp mentioned in June 2011:

"In fact, my judgments about the steps taken in that conflict by the IDF to avoid civilian deaths are inadvertently borne out by a study published by the United Nations itself, a study which shows that the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in Gaza was by far the lowest in any asymmetric conflict in the history of warfare.

The UN estimate that there has been an average three-to one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide. Three civilians for every combatant killed.

That is the estimated ratio in Afghanistan: three to one.

In Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to be four-to-one. Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratios were very much higher in Chechnya and Serbia.

In Gaza, it was less than one-to-one.

This extremely low rate of civilian casualties flatly contradicts many of Goldstone’s original allegations, and the bleating insistence of various human rights groups about Israel’s alleged crimes against humanity."

From: 'Elder of Ziyon' via GRW Listserv <>
To: GRW List [GRW] <>
Sent: Tuesday, 22 July 2014, 17:44
Subject: [GRW] My next article proves that civilian/terrorist ratio is still 1:1

Coming up in 45 minutes:

Despite everything that is claimed by anti-Israel NGOs, the IDF has maintained a ratio of about 1:1 civilians to terrorists killed.

We can calculate this from adding together two sources and a little extrapolation.

Last week, as I reported, out of the first 193 killed in Gaza, 72 were known to be terrorists, 80 were civilians and 41 were unclear.

That is as of Tuesday, July 15, at noon.

Israel said it has killed 183 militants in its ground operation over the last four days.
That adds up to 255 terrorists from before July 15 and since (presumably) July 18.

Add the three missing days of casualties (roughly 40 total, assume 20 terrorists), plus some percentage of the 41 who were undetermined last week, and it is clear that roughly half of the dead in Gaza are in fact terrorist - despite the horrific reports of entire buildings collapsing on families that seem to indicate otherwise.

For those who claim that the IDF is lying, in the past the IDF estimates have turned out to be true - even Hamas admitted that roughly half of those killed during Cast Lead were terrorists, months after the fact.

There's another salient fact as well.

Some percentage of the dead were killed by terrorist actions, whether rockets that fell short, mortars and bullets aimed at Israelis, "work accidents" and weapons caches exploding. No NGO in Gaza is checking up on those, because they have a vested interest in making Israel look as bad as possible. The new "Goldstone Report" is being planned already. So indeed the ratio of civilians to terrorists killed by Israel may be even less than 1:1.

To have a ratio of only one civilian per terrorist killed, in an environment where Hamas purposefully hides among civilians and tells civilians to stay where the terrorists are, is nothing short of miraculous.

The people who are accusing Israel of indiscriminate targeting of civilians are engaged in slander, not in reporting nor research. Israel's numbers stack up against any conflict in history, including the Western-led armies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. 

Don't believe the lies. The IDF is as moral an army as has ever existed in history. 
Elder of Ziyon

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