News outlets have reported nearly 16,000 deaths in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, as Israel attempts to remove the group that slaughtered 1,200 Israelis on October 7, and many innocent Jews in the preceding years.
But Gaza casualty figures come from the Hamas-run health ministry.
Hamas’ full name is the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement. Its founding charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and a genocide of Jews. By 1995 the United States had designated Hamas — funded, armed, and trained by Iran — a terrorist organization.
The group’s casualty figures, usually said to comprise “mostly women and children” are used to destroy support for Israel on the world stage, and put pressure on President Joe Biden to let Hamas survive. The demand that Israel stop or reduce its campaign – dressed as concern over “indiscriminate” Israeli attacks, comes from administration staffers, congressional Democrats and America’s post-liberal, anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish left.
So, the Biden administration, which botched the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, and failed to discourage Vladimir Putin before he launched Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, now attempts to direct and manage Israel’s war against Hamas.
There are good reasons to doubt statistics from the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry (more on that below). But assume momentarily the casualty count is correct. Do likewise with Israel’s late November estimate that it had killed up to 4,000 terrorists. That leaves approximately 11,000 noncombatant Palestinian Arab fatalities.
Four thousand dead gunmen to 11,000 noncombatant fatalities is a proportion of 2.63 to 1. In 2015, the United Nations put combatant-to-noncombatant deaths caused by US and British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq at between 3:1 and 4:1.
And that’s assuming Hamas’ numbers can be trusted. But they can’t be.
After the 50-day Israel-Hamas 2014 war in the Gaza Strip, Gen. Martin Dempsey, then chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that Israel had gone out of its way to minimize non-combatant casualties, including by warning civilians of pending attacks in their neighborhoods.
The IDF has done the same in current fighting, dropping leaflets, making phone calls by Arabic-speaking IDF soldiers, and otherwise urging civilians to flee from Hamas targets. As Daniel Pomerantz pointed out, Israel even fired against Hamas soldiers to protect Palestinian civilians.
Numbers can lie
According to Lenny Ben-David, of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Hamas’ current figures are essentially “fanciful propaganda statistics.” That’s because after the 2014 war, which Hamas provoked by kidnapping and murdering three Israelis, its health ministry stopped specifying fatalities by age and sex.
Now Hamas lumps all Gazan deaths since October 7 together. This includes all Hamas terrorists; the approximately 750 who died of natural causes through November 30, per CIA calculations; the hundreds supposedly killed by strikes at the al-Ahli Hospital (by the errant Palestinian Islamic Jihad missile) in the Jabalya refugee district (more likely 40 to 50 combined as suggested by photographs); and an unknown number of “collaborators” killed by Hamas or its junior partner, the Iranian-supported PIJ.
In another analysis for the Jerusalem Center, “Hamas’ Numbers Warfare,” Prof. Kobi Michael, a senior researcher at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, asked how it was that after the first five weeks of fighting, “neither the Hamas leadership nor the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported a single casualty among Hamas forces.” Further, “no one questioned how PMH reported 30,000 Palestinians wounded when the total number of hospital beds in all medical facilities in Gaza, including UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] clinics, did not exceed 3,000. So, where exactly are all the 30,000 wounded?”
Michael estimated dead and wounded Gazans at 50 percent of the total announced by Hamas-controlled officials, and “at least half of the number of dead and wounded are probably Hamas members..”
Next, former US intelligence analyst Malcolm Nance has noted:
16,000 dead? HOW DO YOU KNOW THESE KILLED FIGURES ARE TRUE?
The number of Palestinians casualties reported are almost IMPOSSIBLE TO BELIEVE.
Yes, the number of KIA/WIA may ultimately be grievous but I predict these 1,000 KIA per day numbers are simply JUST MADE UP by HAMAS. WHO IS COUNTING DEAD & WOUNDED & MISSING?
We’ve seen one mass grave of 110 adults. Until the ceasefire there was no integrated medical reporting system or even Wi-Fi, right? How did Doctors collect & pass info on verified dead? Did they use couriers with notebooks? Signal flags? Carrier pigeons?
Outside of hospital tallies (& those directors have lied repeatedly about casualties) how do they know how many actually died outside of in their care? Where are they buried? Were HAMAS terrorist KIA numbers were included? Who is collecting & documenting the corpses in the streets. Where are they all buried? Are there over 160 mass graves (w/100 bodies) the world has somehow not seen?
Also how DID HAMAS KNOW all the exact names, ID numbers & family members on the list of 6,700 dead a week ago? Sorry. I don’t believe it. I worked Satellite imagery analysis on the Srebrenica massacre of 6,000 KIA & seen countable graves at ISIS’s & Mariupol’s mass grave sites. You can make a raw estimate from the mass graves. BUT WHERE ARE THEY IN GAZA?
Don’t tell me all victims are all buried under buildings. Then it’s just as possible the building was empty. Sorry It is just Impossible to verify ANY HAMAS health ministry death tolls. The media, NGOs & UN uses HAMAS figures.
President Joe Biden blundered in late October by confessing he was “disappointed in myself” for publicly doubting Hamas-issued Palestinian casualty counts. Biden made his initial, more pertinent public statement on the numbers on October 25, saying, “I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed.” He added that “I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s a price of waging war.”
Blame not a game
Only a day later, American Muslim representatives were in the White House, urging the president to show more empathy for Hamas’ human shield/human sacrifice victims. That is, to pressure Israel to back off.
Shortly before the American Civil War, William T. Sherman, later Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s right-hand man as a general himself, served as superintendent of the Louisiana Seminary of Learning and Military Academy (now Louisiana State University). He thought Southern enthusiasm for secession was mad. He is said to have warned that secession would lead to war and war to massive death and destruction. It did, including his famous “march to the sea” that destroyed much of Georgia and South Carolina.
What does that have to do with Hamas and Israel? After October 7 and the IDF’s counter-attack, Hamas pledged to attempt more genocidal raids into Israel until the Jewish state and its Jews are destroyed. Israeli officials believe the organization started the war with approximately 30,000 gunmen. To eliminate future threats from Gaza and reestablish deterrence against the larger Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon, the IDF will have to kill thousands more Hamas members. Given the choice the terrorists made to fight among Gaza’s civilians, that means many more noncombatant deaths.
Israel’s enemies invert the distinction between those sworn to murder Jews and Jews committed to defend themselves. Their progressive jargon fails to hide an antisemitic reaction that is both neo-Marxist and neo-Nazi. The White House must reassert that responsibility for noncombatant deaths in the Gaza Strip belongs to the Jew haters, not the Jewish state.
Eric Rozenman is communications consultant for the Jewish Policy Center and author, most recently, of From Elvis to Trump, Eyewitness to the Unraveling: Co-Starring Richard Nixon, Andy Warhol, Bill Clinton, the Supremes and Barack Obama! Opinions expressed above are solely his own.
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‘Enough is Enough’: Petition to Replace UNRWA Gets More Than 130,000 Signatures
Geneva-based monitor group UN Watch has collected more than 130,000 signatures in support of replacing UNRWA — the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees — after it was exposed to have extensive connections to Palestinian terrorists.
The petition was announced at a UN Watch conference which aimed to “address the humanitarian situation in Gaza and formulate a plan for a future beyond UNRWA,” which the planners described as “a failed agency.”
The petition notes that, over the past few months, it has been reported that at least 12 UNRWA employees took part in Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attacks, about 1,200 UNRWA members have terrorist connections, thousands of UNRWA teachers are part of a Telegram channel that celebrated Hamas’s attack, and Hamas built a large tunnel under the UNRWA headquarters.
“Since its creation in 1949, the agency has brainwashed Gazans into believing that their home is not Gaza, but rather on the other side of the fence, in Israel,” the petition says, referencing the fact UNRWA counts Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank as refugees even though they are living in land they consider to be Palestine.
“Enough is enough,” the petition concluded, “It’s time to stop the perverse logic of an agency that perpetuates war. It’s time to replace UNRWA.”
The show of popular opposition to UNRWA comes as a growing number of countries — more than a dozen so far — have pulled funding from the UN agency amid its many scandals.
The US State Department said “The United States is extremely troubled by the allegations that twelve UNRWA employees may have been involved in the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel,” and, consequently, it “has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them.”
Other countries, such as Japan, used similar language, noting that it was “extremely concerned” and that it would pause new funding until an investigation takes place.
Israel welcomed these developments. Israel’s Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, said “major changes need to take place so that international efforts, funds and humanitarian initiatives don’t fuel Hamas terrorism and the murder of Israelis.”
However, others argue that, without UNRWA, Palestinians would have no way of obtaining critical humanitarian aid.
In January, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, after the Biden administration announced that it would pause funding to the agency, “Cutting off support to @UNRWA – the primary source of humanitarian aid to 2 million+ Gazans – is unacceptable. Among an organization of 13,000 UN aid workers, risking the starvation of millions over grave allegations of 12 is indefensible.”
“The US should restore aid immediately,” she argued.
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The New York Times Shares Anti-Israel Conspiracy Theory About Boars
In a recent profile of the Israeli settlement of Homesh and the tensions between its Jewish residents and their Palestinian neighbors, The New York Times’ Steven Erlanger uncritically echoes the claim that some settlers are using boars to uproot local Palestinian agriculture.
Partway through the piece, Erlanger writes, “They [settlers] chop down olive trees, roll flaming tires down the hills to burn crops and even send boars to dig up Palestinian seedlings and fruit trees, the locals say.”
In the next paragraph, he expands on this claim, relating how a local Palestinian man has bought dogs to keep these boars away from his land.
This is not the first time that Israelis have been accused of setting wild boars loose in order to attack Palestinians and destroy their property.
However, in the more than 15 years that this libel has made the rounds of both Palestinian and foreign media outlets, it has proven to be only an incendiary cudgel used against the Jewish residents of the West Bank — not a legitimate news story.
Why would @nytimes legitimize the utterly ridiculous charge that Israeli settlers are “send[ing] boars to dig up Palestinian seedlings and fruit trees?”
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) February 26, 2024
As far back as February 2007, the Elder of Ziyon blog reported on the Palestinian claim that Israeli settlers were using trained wild boars to terrorize local Palestinian communities and to tear up their agricultural fields.
However, the claim that Israelis were using trained wild boars against local Palestinian communities really gained steam in 2012, when it was reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had previously stated that Israelis were training wild boars to uproot Palestinian trees and to “spread corruption on the face of the earth.”
In 2014, Abbas reiterated this baseless claim at a conference in Ramallah.
Since then, this libel has routinely popped up in Palestinian publications as well as news outlets aimed at foreign audiences.
As the blog Israellycool has previously noted, when it comes to blaming Israelis for wild boar attacks in Palestinian areas, there are a wide variety of conspiracies about how Israel is to blame.
These contradictory conspiracies include the allegations that Israelis are setting these pigs against Palestinian communities; that Israeli security fences are protecting Jewish communities while allowing for Palestinian areas to be ravaged; that Israelis are allowed to shoot wild boars while Palestinians are not; and that Israeli construction has forced these animals to venture into Palestinians towns and cities.
If this claim about Israel-trained fighter pigs seems fantastical, it’s because it is.
As HonestReporting noted last year (when we critiqued a UK education magazine for publishing similar absurd claims), there is no evidence that wild boar attacks in Palestinian areas of the West Bank are attributable to a nefarious Israeli plot.
In recent years, due to a variety of factors, there has been an uptick in boar sightings in both Jewish and Palestinian communities in the West Bank, as well as parts of pre-1967 Israel. In fact, the rise in boar appearances inspired a 2021 New York Times profile on the boars of Haifa.
Parallel to the rise in boar sightings has been the rise in boar attacks, with both Jewish Israelis and Palestinians falling victim to the pigs’ aggression and viciousness.
Even Yesh Din and B’Tselem, two Israeli organizations that focus on alleged human rights abuses in the West Bank, have found there to be “no evidence” of any boar attacks in Palestinian communities being attributable to a Jewish conspiracy.
This boar conspiracy is yet another point in a long line of Israel-related animal conspiracy theories.
While they might seem ridiculous, some of the theories include:
The claim that Israel trained dolphins to serve as spies or assassins.
The claim that a vulture was trained by the Mossad to conduct reconnaissance.
The claim that Israel was using rats to drive out Palestinians from their eastern Jerusalem homes.
The claim that the Mossad was responsible for a slew of shark attacks in the Red Sea off the coast of the Sinai Desert.
Much like these other conspiracies, the claim that boar attacks in the West Bank are attributable to an Israeli plot is hogwash, and should not be spread by The New York Times or other reputable news organizations.
The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.
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The True Motivation of Terror — Hamas Terrorists Don’t Want a State
What really drives terror against Israel? To begin a proper answer, we must first understand the universal human need “to belong.” This primal need can be expressed harmlessly, as in sports fandom or rock concerts, or perniciously, as in jihadist terror-violence.
In matters of terrorism, widely alleged political motivations (e.g., sovereignty, “self-determination,” and statehood) are actually secondary or reflective. In the case of any proposed “two-state solution,” Palestinian sovereignty is never anything other than political manipulation or subterfuge. Not only would a Palestinian state fail to stop Palestinian terrorism, it would render such terrorism increasingly likely and even more injurious.
In ancient times, Aristotle already understood that “man is a social animal.” Typically, the seminal philosopher recognized, even a “normal” individual can feel empty and insignificant apart from any tangible membership in the “mass.” Inter alia, that mass is the State. Sometimes, however, it is the Tribe. Sometimes the Faith (always, of course, the “one true faith”). Sometimes it is “The Liberation” movement or simply “the Revolution.”
Details aside, whatever the mass claims of any particular moment, it is an unquenchable craving for belonging that threatens to produce catastrophic downfalls of individual responsibility and variously correlative triumphs of collective wrongdoing. Today, in jihadist-centered parts of the Middle East, unless millions can finally learn how to temper the overwhelming human desire to belong at all costs, all military, legal, and political schemes to control war and terrorism will fail.
It’s time for more serious explanations. To more genuinely understand what lies behind Palestinian terrorism against Israel, science-based analysts must first learn to look more deeply behind the news. In the final analysis, such “molecular” looks could helpfully explain jihadist fusions of susceptible individuals into murder-centered terror gangs. Prima facie, in the jihadist Middle East, war and terrorism would never take place in the absence of such inherently barbarous collective identifications.
Earlier, relevant core concepts were clarified by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Whenever individuals crowd together and form a mass, both recognized, the exterminatory dynamics of a mob can quickly be unleashed. More precisely, they discovered, these dynamics could lower each single person’s moral and intellectual level to a point where even anonymous mass killing would be widely welcomed and encouraged. This is precisely what happened with Hamas’ October 7, 2023, attack upon vulnerable Israeli civilians.
In today’s jihad-oriented Middle East, Islamic faith has been placed in the witting service of war and terror. Hamas terror against Israel is fueled by effectively unchallengeable evocations of “divine will.” Ironically, the net result of any such perfidious summoning is to drown out any authentic hints of sacredness or godliness.
Doctrinally, once empathy and compassion are extended outside the terrorizing jihadist mass,they must go unrewarded. In the case of Jews, moreover, humane sentiments must also be actively punished. Here, as generalizable virtues, empathy and compassion become extraneous and presumptively self-destructive.
There are pertinent details. In the name of allegedly divine commandment, jihadist/Hamas terror-criminality offers the wider world neither salvation nor holiness, but only conspicuously lethal “groupthink.” Among other things, the dissembling rhythms of this annihilating ethos make it futile for Israel to advance even the most honest efforts at peaceful coexistence.
This fundamental dilemma can never be solved by pundits, political leaders or self-declared “experts.” True solutions will require the concentrated intellectual efforts of uncommonly gifted thinkers. For Israel, it would emerge, any purported two-state solution could be a “final solution.” Here, the ironies would be both insufferable and unconscionable.
To undertake increasingly urgent investigations of Hamas terror-criminality, capable scholars and policy makers should look much more closely at the complex determinants of human meaning. Before we can slow-down terror-violence against Israeli and various other noncombatants, Hamas and kindred groups will first have to be shorn of their inclination to bestow celebratory status upon murderers. To affect those mass-directed individuals who turn to terrorism (i.e., ritualistic murder) for affirmations of personal worth, capable thinkers should first identify more benign but still comparably attractive sources of belonging.
In the very deepest analytic sense, Hamas terror-violence represents the result of cumulative individual failures to draw personal meaning “from within.” In Gaza and other mass-directed Palestinian areas, “redemption” requires “the faithful” to present tangible and perpetual proof of belonging. In any such presentation, evidence of participation in violence against Israeli men, women, and children is self-evidently gainful.
At its heart, Palestinian terror-violence against Israel is a problem of displaced human centeredness. Ever anxious about drawing meaning from their own “inwardness,” Hamas adherents draw ever closer to mass-based defilements. In all too many cases, a blood-soaked voice of anti-reason makes even the most gratuitous forms of terror-killing seem glorious.
There is more. When it is correctly understood as a form of religious sacrifice, Hamas terrorism confers the greatest possible form of power. This is the power of “martyrdom,” or power over death. At that stage, it is not merely belief or belonging that is being offered to jihadist murderers. It is also immortality. Lest anyone forget, the heroic death that the Palestinian “martyr” expects to endure is nothing more than a transient inconvenience on the path to a life everlasting. In essence, therefore, the Palestinian shahid “kills himself” (or herself) in order not to die.
At birth, each person contains the possibility of becoming fully human, an opportunity that could reduce potentially destructive loyalties to any murderous mass. Indeed, it is only by nurturing this indispensable possibility that we humans can seek serious remedies to war and terrorism. In principle, at least, Israel’s long-term struggle against Hamas and other jihadists should be to encourage potential terror-killers to discover the way back to themselves as empathetic human beings. But that’s hardly a realistic suggestion.
It’s a time for a summation. Israel should never misunderstand or misrepresent the core causes of Palestinian terror. To wit, Hamas killers are not most genuinely interested in sovereignty, “self-determination,” or statehood, but rather in evidence of belonging, pretended heroism, and a faith-reinforcing immortality.
For the immediate future, Israel will need to continue its life-saving military response to jihadist terrorism, especially when Hamas leaders remain determined to sacrifice Palestinian civilian populations for narrowly cynical and self-serving reasons. If Hamas leaders really believe in their own “sacred” promises of life everlasting to Palestinian “martyrs,” why are they unwilling to “sacrifice” themselves or their families? Only when this core question is raised and candidly answered could Israelis finally understand why well-intentioned concessions to Palestinian statehood would be misconceived and self-destructive.
Louis René Beres, Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue, is the author of many books and articles dealing with nuclear strategy and nuclear war, including Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (University of Chicago Press, 1980) and Security or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (D.C. Heath/Lexington, 1986). His twelfth book, Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy, was published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2016. A version of this article was originally published by Jewish Business News.
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