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, the normal civilian-to-combatant wartime fatality ratio has been 10:1.Indeed, by the count that my team and I came up with of Gaza war casualties, nearly one half of the dead were either terrorists or members of the Hamas police which is effectively a paramilitary force, or (often) both. (The IDF claims closer to two-thirds killed were militants. The discrepancy is mostly in counting how many were killed in the war altogether.)
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?
By way of contrast, the latest numbers from Iraq indicate a 2-1 civilian to militant casualty ratio - at least double Israel's rate.
So, yes, many civilians were killed - but compared to pretty much any modern war you can name, the ratio of civilian to fighter deaths was very, very low. Not only that, but a clear part of Hamas' strategy was to maximize their own civilian casualties, which makes Israel's achievement even more remarkable.