Monday, June 28, 2021

  • Monday, June 28, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
Dr. Alex Safian of the BESA Center does an interesting analysis to estimate how many Gazans were killed by Hamas rockets that fell short last month.

By calculating the lethality of Gaza rockets that fell in Israel, correcting for those intercepted by Iron Dome, assuming that the population density of the targets in Israel is roughly the same as that of Gaza as a whole, and knowing the number of rockets that landed in Gaza (680), he estimates that some 91 Gazans were killed from Gaza rockets - 36% of those killed in total in the war.

I had done a similar estimate a couple of weeks ago, although I made a mistake in saying that 12 Israelis had been killed directly by rockets - the number is 9, so my initial estimate would have been almost identical of 90 killed. However, I don't think Safian is taking into account the fact that, according to the IDF, most of the rockets that landed in Gaza fell towards the periphery of the sector, which is less populated and much of it is farmland or the Israeli-enforced no-go zone.

Very few Gaza rockets fell in Gaza City, Rafah or Khan Yunis, the largest cities. Many, however, fell in Jabalia, Beit Hanoun, and Beit Lahia.

It that sense, I think that Safian's analysis falls short. 

Interestingly, a similar graphic from the IDF during the 2014 war showed a similar pattern of rockets falling on the perimeter:

There is another factor at play here. Larger rockets have larger payloads, and therefore are more deadly. The smaller terror groups in Gaza who shot rockets did not have the range, or the payload, that the larger Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets had. We have no idea how many of the larger rockets fell short, although given that we know that on the first day two rockets killed 16 Gazans, it seems likely that at least some did. In the beginning of the war I noted that some of the vapor trails for larger rockets showed them falling in Gaza; I did not notice that in later videos.

I think that the best way to estimate casualties from Gaza rockets is to go through the reports from PCHR and Al Mezan Center of casualties during the war and match those up with the lists of known terrorists killed. When civilians are killed without warning, in areas that are known to have been hit by Gaza rockets, and no known terror targets nearby, it can be confidently assumed that they were killed by Gaza rockets. I showed a few examples previously and added a few here.

According to PCHR’s investigations, Israeli warplanes targeted an agricultural land near a 3-storey house belonging to Mahmoud Hashem al-‘Attar’s sons in Beit Lahia on the Street beyween al-‘Atatrah and al-Salatin neighborhoods in Beit Lahia. As a result, Lamyaa’ Hasan al-‘Attar (27) and her 3 children namely Islam (8), Amira (7), and Mohammed “Zain al-Dein” (8 months) were killed, and their house was completely destroyed. Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes launched 2 missiles at an agricultural land in al-Amal neighborhood in Beit Lahia near a 2-storey house belonging to Ibrahim Mousa Ahmed Salama (49). As a result, his wife, Faiza Ahmed Mohammed Salama (45) was killed, and the house owner and his son were injured.

At approximately 16:20 on Wednesday, 12 May 2021, the dead body of Hammad ‘Ayyad Mansour al-Debari (86), from al-Shokah in eastern Rafah, arrived at Abu Yousif al-Najjar Hospital after he sustained shrapnel wounds in the head inside his house near al-Sabereen Mosque.  
At approximately 21:30, shrapnel of a missile fell on a house belonging to the sons of ‘Issa ‘Obaid on al-Nozhah Street in Jabalia. As a result, a girl with disability namely Buthaina Mahmoud ‘Issa ‘Obaid (6) was killed after being hit with shrapnel in the right side of her head when she was in front of her house.
[May 19] At approximately 20:05, Israeli warplanes fired a missile behind Sa’d ‘Ali ‘Asaliyia’s house in eastern Jabalia. As a result, Sa’d’s daughter namely Dima (10) was killed as she sustained shrapnel wounds throughout her body.
Another strong indication that Gazans were killed by Gaza rockets is when PCHR describes their injuries as being from "shrapnel," since Gaza rockets are built to maximize the amount of shrapnel and Israeli missiles minimize the amount of shrapnel.

[May 12] At approximately 21:15, Israeli warplanes launched 2 missiles at Salah al-Deen Street in front of al-‘Ijlah Meat Shop in al-Zaytun neighborhood in southern Gaza City. As a result, Yahiya Mazen Shehada Khalifa (14) was killed with shrapnel that hit different parts of his body as he was in front of his house.  Moreover, 4-storey building sustained severe damage.
Adding these to the 16 killed on the first day, that makes 25 Gaza civilians likely killed by Gaza rockets. I'm being cautious, there are plenty of others killed apparently from Gaza rockets that fell short; some of them did fall in Gaza City and other densely populated areas. 

If I had to guess, I would think the number of Gazans killed by Gaza rockets is closer to 50-60, which would make the ratio of terrorists to civilians killed by the IDF much higher than 1:1 - absolutely unheard of in an urban war.

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