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14 May, 2024 23:03

Israel claims lowest civilian casualty ratio in history

West Jerusalem has released its first estimate for deaths of non-combatants in Gaza, claiming that Hamas figures are “fake”
Israel claims lowest civilian casualty ratio in history

Israel has provided an estimate of the civilian death toll in Gaza for the first time since its war with Hamas began in October, claiming that its forces are “setting the new gold standard” for minimizing harm to non-combatants in an urban conflict.

Speaking in an online video statement on Monday, Israeli government spokesman Avi Hyman pegged the war deaths in Gaza at over 14,000 “terrorists” and around 16,000 civilians. Local health authorities in the Hamas-governed Palestinian enclave have reported more than 35,000 deaths, claiming that most of the deceased were women and children.

Hyman scolded media outlets and the United Nations for reporting Hamas casualty claims as fact, saying Israel had been condemned globally based on “fake and fabricated” numbers. Now that the Israeli government has released its statement, he added, “we would expect everyone to now take these figures as a genuine estimate from a free democratic country that fights in strict accordance with the laws of armed conflict in one of the most challenging urban warfare scenarios in history.”

The spokesman said Israel views every civilian casualty as a tragedy. He blamed Hamas for the deaths, accusing the militant group of using non-combatants as human shields. He told Fox News, “In reality, Israel is setting the new gold standard for urban warfare with what appears to be the lowest civilian-to-combatant casualty ratio in history.”

The Israeli statement comes less than one week after Hyman was grilled by podcast host Piers Morgan for having “no idea how many civilians you’ve killed.” It also comes after the UN cut its estimate last week for the number of women and children killed in Gaza by nearly half.

The UN revision was driven by a decision to report the figures based on the nearly 25,000 fatalities for which Gaza health officials have complete details, rather than including the more than 10,000 people who are estimated to be “missing or under the rubble.” The UN hasn’t suggested that the Hamas figures were inflated. The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that it sees “nothing wrong” with the figures reported by local health officials.

The casualty breakdown provided by Gaza authorities was about 40% men, 20% women, 32% children, and 8% elderly. Even by the Israeli estimate, over 53% of the deceased in Gaza were civilians. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted on Sunday that Israeli forces had killed more Palestinian civilians than Hamas fighters. He said Washington agrees with the Israeli casualty estimates.

“Israel has processes, procedures, rules and regulations to try to minimize civilian harm,” Blinken said in a CBS News interview. But they “have not been applied consistently and effectively. There’s a gap between the stated intent and some of the results we’ve seen.” 

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