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Friday, March 13, 2009

Let's do some Gaza math

The PCHR just released a report saying that in Gaza, 960 of the dead were civilians and 474 were "fighters" or Hamas "police officers."

As we've seen, the PCHR is hardly accurate in its description of who is a civilian. But we can assume that their tally of women and children victims are accurate. So therefore this is a curious statement:
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ (PCHR) investigations reveal that throughout the course of the assault, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) used excessive, indiscriminate force, in violation of the principle of distinction. This claim is evidenced by the disproportionately high rate of death amongst the civilian population, when compared to that of resistance fighters.
OK, let's look at the numbers, according to PCHR.

PCHR says that 280 of the victims were children and 121 were women. If we assume that none of the 15-17-year old "children" were in fact "fighters," which is clearly not true, and if we assume that half of Gazans are under 18 (the median age is 17.2) and that half of Gazans are male and half female, and if we further assume that there were 20,000 fighters, then according to PCHR's own figures:

"Combatants" and Hamas police were 35 times more likely to be killed than civilians.
Adult males were 8.5 times more likely to be killed than adult women.
Adult males were 7 times more likely to be killed than children under 18.

When the PCHR lists the dead's names next week, we can look at how many of the "children" were in fact males between 15-17.

Given that the terrorists were completely integrated into the civilian population, without uniforms, this is hardly evidence of "indiscriminate" force. On the contrary, it proves great care on the part of the IDF to target terrorists.

Parsing the PCHR a bit more indicates that they are not counting Hamas or Islamic Jihad members to be "combatants" if they were not actually shooting at the IDF at the time of their deaths. For example, it appears that if the IDF would shoot at an unarmed terrorist a minute after he shot a rocket into Israel, the PCHR would classify him as a "noncombatant." The PCHR made no attempt to determine whether any of the dead were members of terror groups, only if they were (what PCHR defines as) active "combatants." The PCHR also counts Nizar Rayyan as a civilian. The real numbers of terrorists killed is clearly much higher than what PCHR claims.

Putting these facts together, one can see not only PCHR's bias but also the fact that the IDF actions were anything but "indiscriminate."

[It is also interesting that between the end of the war and now, the PCHR death figures went up from 1285 to 1434, but the number of women went up by only 10 and the number of children stayed exactly the same. It is an amazing statistical feat that 139 of the 149 newly-discovered dead were adult males.]