7 Surprising Things I’ve Noticed About the Israel-Gaza War

13 June 2024

6.5 MINS

The Israel-Gaza war continues to inflame strong feelings, both on and offline.

Australian Labor Senator Fatima Payman recently accused Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, whilst student protests continue around the world, including here in Australia. Christians, too, have strong feelings about this conflict. Some Christians are pro-Israel, others staunchly against it.

As I’ve thought about this issue and engaged with it online, here are 7 surprising things I’ve noticed:

1) Where you stand on the Israel-Gaza conflict depends heavily on how you respond to the question: does Israel have a right to exist?

This question of Israel’s right to exist is the question that divides those who are pro-Israel, and supportive of Israel’s actions in Gaza, to those who are against Israel and routinely condemn it.

Of course, you could say that Israel has a right to exist, while condemning some/many of its actions (e.g. its policies toward Palestinians in the West Bank), but I have noticed that Israel’s existence is the key issue.

2) Why are media outlets and Western governments parroting Hamas’ number of people killed? (The UN recently halved the number of women and children killed).

Is it just me, or is it unwise to believe the number of Palestinian dead reported by a totalitarian, genocidal, terrorist group intent on wiping Israel off the map?

Might there be some bias in those numbers? Well, the UN has come to the same conclusion.

In a May 6 report, the UN stated the death toll was 34,735, including 9,500 women and 14,500 children.

But two days later, the UN quietly halved those figures. The total number of deaths is about the same at 34,844, but that number now consists of 4,959 women and 7,797 children. (And this is from the United Nations, whose General Assembly adopted 15 resolutions against Israel in 2023, compared to seven for the rest of the world combined.)

Now, I don’t know about you, but surely this is noteworthy? ABC, SBS, where are you on this?

3) The cry of the protesters is that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. But if that’s the case, Israel is doing a poor job at genocide.

While every civilian death is tragic, according to recent numbers from the United Nations, the total number of people killed is 34 thousand (women killed is around 5000, children killed 8000), elderly 2000, and men 10,000.

That’s from a population of 2 million people. Considering  Israel claims to have killed around 12,000 Hamas fighters, that’s a ratio of two times as many civilians killed as Hamas fighters, or 2:1.

Is that ratio higher than other conflicts taking place in urban areas? Is it genocide? Well, according to a UN report from 2022:

Conflict continued to cause widespread civilian death last year, notably in densely populated areas, where civilians accounted for 90 per cent of the casualties when explosive weapons were used…

In other words,  the norm for conflict in densely populated areas is a ratio of 9:1 – nine civilians killed for every soldier killed.

That’s the norm for urban warfare. From Berlin to Mosul, urban warfare is inherently brutal (with some conflicts being a lot higher than the 9:1 ratio).

Is such a 9:1 ratio death-toll tragic?

Unspeakably so.

Is it genocide?

Not according to the UN.

But Israel – according to UN numbers – is keeping civilian-to-military deaths at a much lower 2:1 ratio. Yes, every one of those 8000 women and 5000 children killed is tragic. But that’s a fraction (1/4) of the civilian deaths that many other armies are carrying out in urban conflicts.

And so, how could anyone call the 2:1 ratio a genocide, considering that the UN says typical urban conflict numbers are around the 9:1 ratio?

4) Even under Israeli occupation, the number of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza has increased by around 500%: is that a genocidal policy?

Ok, so if the numbers don’t add up for Israel committing genocide in its current Gaza operation,  hasn’t Israel been committing genocide in the Occupied Territories, namely the West Bank, and Gaza (pre-2005)?

Again, the statistics paint a different picture.

While there is much to criticise about Israeli Policy in the West Bank (and pre-2005 Gaza), how could Israel have been committing genocide if the number of Palestinians under its occupation (West Bank and Gaza) grew by over 500% since the first census in 1967?

Isn’t genocide meant to (drastically) reduce the number of people under an occupying power, not allow it to increase by 500%?

(By comparison, a migrant-heavy population like Australia – where 1 in 4 people are born overseas – has only increased by 200% in the same period).

Now, might Israel be heavy-handed, or even oppressive toward Palestinians in the Occupied Territories? No doubt reasonable people might come to that conclusion.

But has Israel been committing genocide in those territories? The population statistics don’t support that narrative.

5) Why aren’t Arab countries – especially Egypt – doing anything to help Palestinians in Gaza flee the conflict?

When the war in Ukraine began, neighbouring countries like Hungary opened their borders 24/7, allowing Ukrainians to flee into Hungary, no questions asked, and no documentation required.

In Gaza, the neighbouring Arab Muslim country of Egypt has not opened its crossing to allow Palestinians to come across, and neither has any other Muslim nation been willing to take Palestinian refugees.

But the humanitarian disaster could be greatly reduced if Egypt opened its borders to neighbouring Gaza, to allow Palestinian civilians to flee the fighting.

Why don’t Egypt and the other Muslim states accept Palestinian refugees? The only answer I’ve received to this question is a political one: if the border to Egypt was opened, many Palestinians would indeed flee the fighting, but Israel might not let them back into Gaza.

While I get the reason for this fear (dating back to the “Al-Nakba” in 1948), it sidelines the wishes of the Palestinians caught in the fighting. Shouldn’t they be given the option of fleeing? How cruel is it to keep people in a warzone against their wishes?

Or does a political concern – one that is questionable considering Israel previously occupied Gaza without removing Palestinians – trump care for refugees?

6) Why are university protestors so fixated on Israel, while ignoring real genocides like the Muslim Uyghurs in China?

The university student protesters in America and the West have made a big deal of Palestinian suffering in Gaza.

Before this war, why didn’t they make any noise about the suffering of other people in the world, many of whom are suffering at a much larger scale than civilians dying in Gaza (e.g. Muslim Uyghurs in China)? It seems strange that students are so upset about one conflict and have absolutely nothing to say about any other conflict – especially those (such as the Uyghurs) that have been declared (by the US) as a real genocide.

Why is this?

Students are free to fixate on any issue they please. But not only are they ignoring much more serious problems than the war in Gaza, they’re even making claims about “genocide” in Gaza that are extremely questionable (see points 3 and 4 above).

7) So much of the condemnation of Israel is based on ‘headcount’ morality: how many people each side has killed. But this loses all perspective.

The argument goes that while 1200 Israelis were killed by Hamas on October 7th, many more Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli attacks in Gaza.

Thus, Israel is to be condemned and held to be as bad, if not worse, than Hamas. But ‘head count’ morality quickly runs into problems with conflicts like World War 2: many more German civilians died in WW2 at the hands of the British and Americans (e.g. Allied bombings) than British/German civilians at the hands of the Nazis. Does this mean that Britain and America were as bad as the Nazis in WW2?

Furthermore, even war crimes were committed by the Western Allies in World War 2. Does this make them as bad as the Nazis?

Oh, and here’s a bonus thought I’ve decided to add:

8) If Israel unilaterally disarmed itself, it would lead to a second holocaust. If groups like Hamas and Hezbollah disarmed, it would lead to peace in the Middle East.

Imagine that on September 7th, 2023, one month before the Hamas massacres, Israel decided to disarm itself.

If the Israeli PM said,

Look, the Western university students and faculty are right. We’re the problem here in the Middle East, and if we just disarm completely, and donate all our weapons – including our Iron Dome missile defence system – to Ukraine, peace will more likely come to the Middle East.”

What would have happened on October 7? And every day since then?

Well, we don’t have to wonder.

Hamas would have still attacked, as its chartered aim is to destroy Israel. Hizballah would have also joined in the bloodletting from the North and fired off many of its 100K missiles aimed at Israel. No doubt militant groups from the West Bank would have jumped the wall with their genocidal chants. Seven months in (absent external aid to Israel), the body count would be in the millions, especially as Hamas took the more densely populated Israeli cities.

We would be witnessing a second holocaust across our social media feeds (with Hamas proudly uploading videos of its genocide).

Now imagine another scenario:

On October 6th, Hamas decided to lay down its weapons. It also decided to get rid of its genocidal charter, and asked to live in peace with Israel.

What would have happened then?

Again, we don’t have to wonder:

No October 7th terror attacks. No massacre of innocent men, women, and children (including babies). No hostages kidnapped and being tortured in Hamas captivity. No retaliatory action by Israel (leading to the deaths of thousands of Palestinians trapped in the fighting).

And no more blockade by Israel of Gaza.

Many Arab states formerly committed to wiping Israel off the map (both in theory, and in practice – 1948, 1967, 1973) have put aside their hostility toward Israel, and what did Israel do?

It made peace with them:

  • Egypt: 1979 (Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty)

  • Jordan: 1994 (Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty)

More recently, the Abraham Accords (under Trump and Netanyahu, no less) normalised relations between Israel and the following states:

  • United Arab Emirates: 2020

  • Bahrain: 2020

  • Morocco: 2020

  • Sudan: 2020 (though the formalization process is still ongoing)

So let me ask you this question:

In this Hamas-Israel conflict,

Which side wants genocide?

And who would rather peace?


Republished with thanks to Image courtesy of Adobe.

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  1. Jim Twelves 13 June 2024 at 10:16 am - Reply

    Akos, brilliant analysis. I am so glad you have done the sums for us, mainstream media never does! For me the biggest surprise in this conflict is the way the mainstream media simply parrot the Hamas death toll figures. This would never have happened in a war 50 years ago. ‘Independent UN observers’ would be on the ground and would always verify the figures before anything was published. One of the benefits of grey hair, I can remember those days!

  2. Nel Farnik 13 June 2024 at 11:18 am - Reply

    Thank you for this article and the salient points you have raised. In response to point 1 – may I suggest that one view the videos in this series – Whose Land? – – Hugh Kitson produced this video as a documentary and now it has been made into smaller segments for YouTube. It contains great historical evidence to support the legalities that brough Israel to its current state – the State of Israel, 1948.

  3. Countess Antonia Maria Violetta Scrivanich 13 June 2024 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    I have previously questioned the numbers of casualties on this site. Also, note Australia has confirmed it has donated over $70 million towards Food Aid to the Palestinians. I would like to know whether this was food or in the shape of monies towards providing food because how can we be sure it has not gone towards Hezbollah or to buying weapons to fight the Israelis ?

  4. Warwick Marsh 14 June 2024 at 11:10 am - Reply

    Utterly brilliant article showing up the absolute bias found in western media against Israel and the unhinged spite of the radical Jew haters!!!

  5. Steve Forkin 26 June 2024 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    I am of Jewish decent, and lost most of my grandmothers family to the Holocaust. I am certainly not an anti semite nor do I believe the Jews don’t have a right to live in Israel. Nonetheless this article seemed to slice people into two simplistic sides. Either you are on the side of Israel or you are on the side of Hamas. I believe this war has two evil sides. Hamas are quite obviously terrorists, but the response by the Israeli government is not one inch better. A number of the “facts” presented by Akos are not actually factual. Much of the main stream message in October last year of “babies being burned in ovens” and “mass rapes” etc… have turned out to be fabrication, and have formed an image in the public perception that have allowed Israel to react in the way they have.. Here are my responses – I would appreciate if the Daily Declaration would publish my article so people can have two different views on this very difficult issue. The staff at Caldronpool have kindly published my article.
    Thanks and God bless.

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