During the 2021 Gaza War, the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza claimed there were 256 Palestinian casualties. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) concluded, “at least 253 Palestinians have been killed, 129 of whom were civilians.” That means 124 of the dead were combatants, close to a 1:1 ratio, an unprecedentedly low ratio in terms of civilians killed in urban warfare.
At least 680 Palestinian rockets fell short or misfired, landing inside Gaza. According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Israel, 9 children and 10 adults were killed by Palestinian rockets.
The New York Times provides a case study of inaccurate reporting on casualties among Palestinian children. On May 26, 2021, the Times published a front-page report entitled, “They Were Only Children,” which displayed pictures of 67 children in Gaza allegedly killed by Israel. It included 20-year-old Khaled al-Qanou and 15-year-old Muhammad Suleiman, both confirmed Hamas members engaged in violent anti-Israel activity. A stock photo of a young girl from 2015 was also included in the Times report.
Hamas is known to blur the lines between those who died of natural causes and those who died in the war. About 16 Gazans die of natural causes each day. Since Hamas tightly censors information, it is difficult to know if some natural deaths were falsely attributed to deaths from the conflict, especially during the time of the coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, some of those executed by Hamas as spies and collaborators with Israel may also be included in the civilian casualty toll.
Picture: Map of Hamas rockets that misfired and fell in Gaza (IDF Spokesperson)