Hamas Rockets Were Likely Responsible for a Third of the Palestinian Deaths in the Last Gaza War

June 29 2021

According to the United Nations, 256 Palestinians lost their lives as a result of last month’s Hamas-Israel war. Alex Safian explains how this statistic became fodder for those eager to believe the worst about the Jewish state:

Numbers were at the heart of much of the coverage and commentary surrounding the fighting in May between Hamas and Israel. One example was the front-page New York Times story and photo spread about the number of (mostly) Palestinian children killed. The images were accompanied by charges that, because more Palestinians died, Israel must have used disproportionate force and therefore committed a war crime. By this logic, Nazi Germany was the victim in World War II and the U.S. the unlawful aggressor, because fourteen times more Germans than Americans were

Moreover, the figure of 256 dead does not mean that Israel caused every one of these deaths. Sixteen Palestinians, for instance, were killed in a single day by just two of the 680 Hamas rockets that fell short and landed within the Gaza Strip during the eleven days of fighting. Using these data, and other available information, Safian extrapolates that an estimated 91 Gazans—36 percent of the entire death toll—lost their lives because of such misfires. He also notes:

Buildings that collapse due to nearby explosions cause extra deaths. This is significant because many buildings in Gaza may have been undermined by Hamas tunneling, adding to their inability to withstand shaking and increasing the Palestinian death toll. In at least one case, an Israeli bomb targeting a Hamas tunnel is believed to have caused such a collapse of an adjacent building, causing over twenty deaths.

If Hamas insists on attacking Israel, the least it could do is use some of the large amounts of foreign aid it has received (for example, the $2.7 billion pledged in 2014) to build, as Israel has, civil defenses to protect its population. Instead, it has devoted almost all its efforts to attacking Israel with weapons such as rockets, mortars, incendiary balloons, snipers, and anti-tank rockets.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Guardian of the Walls, Hamas, IDF, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy