Caution needed with Gaza casualty figures


#1

From the BBC:

(snip)

Of those Palestinians, the status of 279 could not be identified, at least 1,354 were civilians, including 415 children and 214 women, the UN body reported.

So there were 216 members of armed groups killed, and another 725 men who were civilians. Among civilians, more than three times as many men were killed as women, while three times as many civilian men were killed as fighters.

(snip)

An analysis by the New York Times looked at the names of 1,431 casualties and found that “the population most likely to be militants, men ages 20 to 29, is also the most overrepresented in the death toll. They are 9% of Gaza’s 1.7 million residents, but 34% of those killed whose ages were provided.”

“At the same time, women and children under 15, the least likely to be legitimate targets, were the most underrepresented, making up 71% of the population and 33% of the known-age casualties.”

That is odd, as I understand from reliable sources here on CAF that Israel is either indiscriminately targeting civilians (or intentionally targeting them). But if that was the case, one would think that the demographics of the casualties would be fairly close (not necessarily exactly the same) to the demographics of the population.

Strange…


#2

These numbers, if not convincing proof, at least strongly suggest that Israel is going out of its way to not target civilians.

The most likely reason that there are civilian casualties is because the Palestinians are using them as human shields.

From this link:
For example, several days ago, the Wall Street Journal published a photograph by Nick Casey of Hamas spokesman Mushir Al Masri using a local hospital as a backdrop to give interviews. The hospital and its patients served, in effect, as a shield for Masri to speak to reporters without being targeted by Israel. A few days after it was posted, the Journal had removed Casey’s photo from its website without explanation.

Meanwhile, a French journalist in Gaza, Radjaa Abu Dagga, published an article in the French newspaper Liberation, describing how when he was taken in for questioning by Hamas, the interrogators used a room in the Al Shifa hospital – proof that Hamas is using the hospital as a shield. But that article, too, was deleted from the Liberation web site after a short time.

Sreenivasan Jain, a courageous reporter for New Delhi Television (NDTV), posted a detailed expose on August 5, showing Hamas terrorists assembling, and then firing, a rocket right in the middle of a neighborhood filled with residential buildings and hotels. His amazing report can be seen on the NDTV website.

On August 5, the Israeli Army released copies of an official Hamas manual that it discovered in the Shuja’iya neighborhood of Gaza, where one of the fiercest battles of the war was fought.

It’s titled “Urban Warfare,” and it was produced by Hamas’s Shuja’iya Brigade.The manual includes detailed instructions on how to use the civilians of Gaza against Israel. It explains how because of Israel’s concern about civilian casualties, Hamas can use the “presence of civilians” to its military advantage. Having civilians nearby causes the Israelis “(1) Problems with opening fire; (2) Problems in controlling the civilian population during operations and afterward; (3) Assurance of supplying medical care to civilians who need it.”

The “Urban Warfare” manual also emphasizes the benefits of damage to civilian property: “The destruction of civilian homes: This increases the hatred of the citizens towards the attackers [the IDF] and increases their gathering [support] around the city defenders (resistance forces*).”


#3

The terrorist do this because they are looking to create scandal.

I have friends that have come back from the Iraq war and they have told us that the enemy would often hide among civilians, especially at check points.

When listening to the news (I know, not always the most accurate) when was the last time you heard of a homicide-bomber detonating in a military camp… not that I’ve heard, it is usually a market place… and who is in a market in the middle east… women and children.

I was listening to one of the 24hr news stations on radio… the announcer was calling from a hotel in the conflict zone. He talked about this tent that popped up next to the hotel in the parking area… they could see the Hamas put the rockets together, and just before one of the seize-fires was to start, they launched a lot of rockets… then tore down the tent and ran. Of course without the seize-fire that hotel would have been targeted and blown up and the terrorist would have pointed to the cruel nature of the attack. Cowards.

The Lord, or God, see us all, not with the eyes of man, but our heart, and we will be judged… all we can hope for is that our prayers for peace will change these hearts of stone to flesh.


#4

Why do we play the numbers game, and why can we not separate worldly politics from spiritual faith.

It just seems the entire premise of this thread is to soften and justify the horrors of war.


#5

No, the entire premise of this thread is to let people know that they might not have been hearing accurate news in the media. That they’ve been played.

Nothing can change the horrors of war; however, propagandizing people with lies does nothing to create actual peace.


#6

This little numbers game doesn’t let Israel off the hook. 400 children dead and 2500 wounded is far too many.


#7

#8

One is far too many, but again, Israel appears to be on solid moral ground.


#9

“Solid moral ground” is subjective. They may be on moral ground for the war, which seems to be supported by CCC 2903, but while the intent of the war may be just, and would argue that the execution of the war is far from just, giving them no higher moral standing than Hamas.


#10

ahhh, but you see the who thing is political, regardless of which way you see the picture painted (are we being duped by the political media, or are we being duped by political officials)…this plays well into, “the first casualty of war is always truth”.

It is nothing more than the trite axiomatic “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist”. The more important question is how God views not the intent of the war, but the execution (see earlier posting, dealing with the perception of Israel being on “solid moral ground.”


#11

400 children dead is heartbreaking. I am a teacher, and children are my life’s work. To see what we allow and cause to happen to our children crushes my spirit.

Not one of those children needed to die. Egypt had a plan in place accepted by Israel and the Arab League. Hamas chose to ignore it, and every other plan, then hide behind those very children as they sent rockets into Israel.

Jon


#12

I think that if we consider that Israel was attacked, and that in self-defense Israel targeted areas where Hamas chose to place and fire rocket launchers, that we can see Israel’s intent, which is to minimize harm to civilians. Hamas, however, not only chooses to place rocket launchers in densely-populated areas, frequently near schools and hospitals, but aims its own rockets at civilian Israeli targets.

I see no moral equivalence between the two.


#13

In war, especially within the civilian population, there is no right side or wrong side of the conflict.

Who was it that said something about, “make me an instrument of your peace”? I’m thinking he didn’t mean by spreading terror, but by spreading the gospel message.


#14

Did you leave something out of this sentence? Because I don’t understand it at all.

Who was it that said something about, “make me an instrument of your peace”?

True, but the Catholic Church does not teach pacifism.

I’m thinking he didn’t mean by spreading terror,

And just who is spreading terror?

but by spreading the gospel message.

The Church teaches that the government has the authority and the responsibility to protect its people. Israel constructs bomb shelters and anti-rocket devices. Hamas places rocket launchers in densely civilian areas and targets Israeli civilian areas and uses its cement to build tunnels into Israel instead of bomb shelters for its people.


#15

Israel is violating the rules of war, things like not bombing schools and hospitals.


#16

Art. 19. The protection to which civilian hospitals are entitled shall not cease unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy. Protection may, however, cease only after due warning has been given, naming, in all appropriate cases, a reasonable time limit and after such warning has remained unheeded. The fact that sick or wounded members of the armed forces are nursed in these hospitals, or the presence of small arms and ammunition taken from such combatants which have not yet been handed to the proper service, shall not be considered to be acts harmful to the enemy.

[RIGHT]Geneva IV (1949)[/RIGHT]

Washington Post, July 15:

At the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, crowds gathered to throw shoes and eggs at the Palestinian Authority’s health minister, who represents the crumbling “unity government” in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The minister was turned away before he reached the hospital, which has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices.

Jerusalem Post, July 21:

The IDF on Monday released declassified photos showing how Hamas uses hospitals, mosques, and playgrounds as rocket launch sites.

Washington Post, July 31:

**The United Nations has found troves of rockets hidden in three of its schools since the conflict began. **“We condemn the group or groups who endangered civilians by placing these munitions in our school,” Chris Gunness, spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, said in statement published Wednesday by the Times of Israel. “This is yet another flagrant violation of the neutrality of our premises. We call on all the warring parties to respect the inviolability of U.N. property.”

Earlier this month, the United Nations also found rockets piled inside one of its vacant schools — near other schools used to accommodate displaced people.

I haven’t seen anything specifically addressing schools in the agreements that make up the Law of Armed Conflict (I am not an operational law attorney, so I am not that much of an expert), but the guidance shown in Geneva IV, above, clearly shows that hospitals (at least) lose their protected status if they are used for military purposes.


#17

Are you willing to concede, then, that the USA has no moral authority whatsoever – given what our bombers wrought 69 years ago over the skies of Dresden and other German civilian targets, or over Hiroshima and Nagasaki?


#18

What is the equivalence between the bombings of Dresden and London and what the Israelis are doing or have been doing in Gaza?


#19

Is there a reason you don’t say anything about what Hamas is doing or has been doing in Gaza?

From this link:


The Gaza-based Hamas has recently fired more than 500 rockets at Israeli towns and cities. This has terrorized the citizenry, though caused few casualties, in large part because Israel is protected by the Iron Dome anti-rocket system.

In reaction to these indiscriminately fired missiles, Israel has bombarded targets across Gaza, killing roughly 100 people so far. Compared with violent death rates in other parts of the Middle East, the number is small.

The Israeli military has the operational capability to level the entire Gaza Strip in a day, if it so chooses. It is constrained by international pressure, by its own morality and by the understanding that the deaths of innocent Palestinians are not in its best political interest.

Perhaps even the most accommodationist European governments know that Israel is within its right to hunt down the people trying to kill its citizens.

There is no doubt that Hamas could protect Palestinian lives by ceasing its current campaign to end Israeli lives. The decision is Hamas’s. As the secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, said [last month], “We face the risk of an all-out escalation in Israel and Gaza, with the threat of a ground offensive still palpable – and preventable only if Hamas stops rocket firing.”

What if, nine years ago, when Israel withdrew its soldiers and settlers from Gaza, the Palestinians had made a different choice. What if they chose to build the nucleus of a state, rather than a series of subterranean rocket factories?

[a comparison of Iraqi Kurdistan and Palestinian Gaza follows]

Clearly, Israel is not the aggressor here (unless you count the mere fact of its existence as “aggression”). Israel is going out of its way to not target civilians, whereas (as another posted noted) Hamas is going out of its way to make sure that if Israel is fighting any worthwhile target that civilians are being hit.

I noted the bombings of Dresden and other German civilian targets, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, because these bombings too were a response to aggression. At the time, there was a powerful inner logic driving us to exterminate all those civilians. And so we did it. But, every child who died from our bombs was as innocent as Anne Frank. Israel’s response is way more measured than ours was, yet Israel is somehow at fault?

The Gaza Palestinians really should take their cue from the Iraqi Kurds.


#20

I misunderstood the intent of your question. I am in agreement with you, bit dis not understand why you asked the question.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.