OpinionIsrael at War

Lies about civilian casualties

Israel’s ratio of civilian vs. combatant casualties is the best in the world.

Israeli soldiers during the Gaza ground operation, Nov. 13, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Israeli soldiers during the Gaza ground operation, Nov. 13, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Joseph Frager
Dr. Joseph Frager is a lifelong activist and physician. He is chairman of Israel advocacy for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, chairman of the executive committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and executive vice president of the Israel Heritage Foundation.

Many people do not know that Israel’s 1948 War of Independence took close to 10 months. Israel’s current war against Hamas, which has been dubbed Israel’s Second War of Independence, is now in its third month. Most military analysts believe it will take at least three more months to finish the job.

Part of the reason Israel is now fighting its third major ground war against Hamas is that it never was allowed to complete the task in 2008 and 2014. Yet U.S. President Joe Biden said this past week, “I want [Israel] to be focused on how to save civilian lives—not stop going after Hamas, but be more careful.” Headlines say things like, “U.S. wants Israel to narrow scale of attack in Gaza.”

This is unacceptable. Israel has to be allowed to do what it has to do in order to survive. Otherwise, the Hamas threats to repeat the Oct. 7 massacre will, God forbid, be realized.

No army in the world does more than Israel’s to protect civilians. Soldiers have literally sacrificed themselves in order to do so. Avoiding civilian casualties is all the more difficult because Hamas knows that the IDF is a humane army. Thus, Hamas routinely uses human shields. Nonetheless, the IDF’s “civilian casualty ratio”—the ratio of civilian casualties vs. combatant casualties—is the best in the world.

America’s civilian casualty ratio in World War II was approximately 2:1. That means for every combatant killed, two civilians died. In the Iraq War, it is estimated that from 2003-2023 approximately 174,000 civilians were killed vs. 39,900 combatants. This is close to 4.5:1. The Iraq War was similar in many ways to Israel’s current war against Hamas. Yet Israel’s civilian casualty ratio in Gaza is far better than America’s in Iraq. At the most, it is around 2:1 if we accept likely inflated figures from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry.

The U.S. would do well to emulate Israel’s approach to civilians located in combat zones, especially urban areas. No one wants to see civilians die in war, but to single out Israel for supposed indifference to civilian lives is unfair and based on lies.

Israel has its work cut out for it. The tunnel war in particular is the hardest type of war to fight. But Israel is making steady progress. In due time, God willing, it will be victorious. Pressure from America is not helpful. Let Israel finish the job.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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