Israel’s public admission that it has killed two civilians in the Gaza Strip for every Hamas militant—a roughly 66% noncombatant death rate—is a major understatement, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.
Based on preliminary statistics, the Geneva-based nonprofit estimated that at least 90% of the people killed in Israel’s assault on Gaza thus far have been civilians, a rate that exceeds those of the U.S. wars on Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Euro-Med Monitor found that when including those believed to be missing under the rubble of Gaza’s decimated infrastructure, Israeli forces have killed 21,022 people in the besieged Palestinian territory since October 7, an estimated 19,660 of whom were civilians. The nonprofit said that 60% of the civilians killed were women and children.
The group said its figures “clearly refute” Israel’s claim of a two-to-one ratio of civilians to militants killed, which an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson hailed as “tremendously positive” in a CNNinterview earlier this week. Israeli forces believe they have killed around 5,000 Hamas fighters since October 7.
“If you compare that ratio to any other conflict in urban terrain between a military and a terrorist organization using civilians as their human shields, and embedded in the civilian population, you will find that that ratio is tremendous, tremendously positive, and perhaps unique in the world,” said the IDF’s Jonathan Conricus.
But an analysis released last month by the watchdog Action on Armed Violence found that Israel’s latest assault on Gaza—carried out with the help of artificial intelligence, according to recent reports—has been far deadlier for civilians than even its previous attacks on the strip.
The group estimated that each of Israel’s casualty-causing strikes on Gaza since October 7 have killed an average of 10.1 civilians.
“This significantly surpasses previous Gaza operations which, at its historic recent worst in Operation Protective Edge, was just 2.5 civilian fatalities per casualty-causing strike,” the watchdog said. “As such, the current operation appears to be four times more lethal, based on per injurious strike data, than previous Israeli operations. It also exceeds the global average of 7.4.”
Citing military analysts, the Financial Timesreported Tuesday that “the destruction of northern Gaza in less than seven weeks has approached that caused by the yearslong carpet-bombing of German cities during the Second World War.”
“Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne—some of the world’s heaviest-ever bombings are remembered by their place names,” U.S. military historian Robert Pape told the newspaper. “Gaza will also go down as a place name denoting one of history’s heaviest conventional bombing campaigns.”
Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said Tuesday that the “pulverizing of Gaza now ranks amongst the worst assaults on any civilian population in our time and age.”