The death of any innocents in war is as tragic as it is inevitable. Not a single Gazan would have died, however, if Hamas had not launched rockets at Jerusalem, Israel’s capital.

Palestinian civilians also would face far less danger if they were not used as shields by terrorists.

More civilians would survive airstrikes if Hamas built shelters for them instead of tunnels for their men to hide in.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry claimed 248 Palestinian civilians, including 66 children, were killed. The media repeated these casualty figures without verifying the information. Hamas uses the ministry for propaganda, and the statistics it produces have consistently proven to be inaccurate and do not distinguish between terrorists, civilians killed by Hamas rockets that misfired and civilians.

Defense for Children International–Palestine reported, for example, that “a homemade rocket fired by a Palestinian armed group fell short and killed eight Palestinians, including two children. … Another 34 Palestinian civilians were injured in the blast, including 10 children.” The IDF estimated that nearly 700 Hamas rockets misfired and landed in Gaza. How many more Palestinians were killed in those abortive attempts to kill Israelis?

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which meticulously examines the identities of the dead, analyzed 74 names of fatalities and found that 16 were killed by misfired rockets, and at least 42 were terrorist operatives. Hence, the number of dead civilians was actually 16. The center also reported, “An estimated 50 senior Hamas and PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] terrorist operatives were killed including brigade commanders, and about 20 lower-ranking commanders and about 200 terrorist operatives.”

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHA) said 128, not 248, civilians were killed. Even this figure is likely exaggerated. Of those, 42 reportedly died in one airstrike that targeted a tunnel but caused surrounding buildings to collapse, which means that 86 civilians were killed in the other roughly 1,500 airstrikes. This is all the more remarkable when you consider that Gaza would rank as the world’s sixth most densely populated country.

By comparison, former President Barack Obama authorized 542 drone strikes that killed 324 civilians.

If Israelis wanted to kill civilians and commit “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing” as critics claim, thousands of Gazans would be dead.

Matthias Schmale, director of UNRWA’s operations in Gaza, and no shill for Israel, acknowledged: “I also have the impression that there is a huge sophistication in the way that the Israeli army struck [Gaza] over the past 11 days. … Yes, they did not hit, with some exceptions, civilian targets.”

A furious Hamas reaction to Schmale’s comments forced him to apologize and clarify his remarks. He was then withdrawn from his post in Gaza—a reminder of what happens to those who tell the truth, and the reason journalists are discouraged from reporting anything that will upset Hamas.

Later, UNRWA published a statement that acknowledged a terror tunnel was built under one of its schools and condemned the “potential use by Palestinian armed groups of such tunnels underneath its schools.” UNRWA recognized this made their schools legitimate military targets and said it was “unacceptable that students and staff be placed at risk in such a way.”

You don’t trust the United Nations or Israel, listen to the chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, Yahya Sinwar, who admitted after the conflict that Hamas locates its military headquarters in high-rise and residential buildings. Could one of them have been, as Israel said, in the building it bombed where the Associated Press and other reporters were based?

Critics of Israel never seem to ask themselves what they would do if terrorists were bombing their neighborhood or how their government would protect them without harming any innocents. Imagine how the governments would react if terrorists launched a barrage of rockets at Washington, Paris, Berlin or London. None have come under fire like Jerusalem. Moreover, Hamas is on Israel’s border, whereas Western armies have been sent hundreds or thousands of miles away from their capitals to fight ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Furthermore, those campaigns have lasted for years as opposed to the 11 days of “Operation Guardian of the Walls.”

How many civilians have died in the war on terrorism?

The Pentagon has admitted the U.S. coalition, which includes Britain, killed 1,398 civilians in Iraq and Syria between 2015 and 2020. Airwars, an organization that tracks civilian deaths, estimated the number could be more than 12,000. To give just one example, on July 6, 2008, a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan killed 47 civilians traveling to a wedding, 39 of them women (including the bride) and children.

And the carnage is not just in Syria and Iraq. On Jan. 3, 2021, for example, a French airstrike in Mali targeting terrorists hit a wedding party and killed 22 civilians.

Countries like Russia, China, Iran and Syria don’t think twice about killing civilians, and yet which country is being investigated for “war crimes”? Russia even had the chutzpah during the fighting to tell Israel it would not tolerate more civilian casualties.

Those who oppose war, especially when waged by Jews, should ask themselves what incentive there is for peace if there are no consequences for those who start the fighting. And for the ever naive two-state advocates, the question is why any Israeli would want to negotiate with people whose objective is to kill them, or to give up territory that will bring the terrorists closer to their doorsteps.

Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including “The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews” and “After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.”

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