Gaza Explosion

Media will dutifully be reporting the deaths of five Israeli soldiers — though some media are calling them simply ‘Israelis’, not specifying that they are soldiers — in a Palestinian armed attack at a military checkpoint in Rafah.

Israelis have already bombed Rafah since — in ‘response’, of course. The rest of the media stories will have something on the elections, something on the ‘withdrawal’ from Gaza, perhaps something on the need to ‘clamp down on terror’.

What they won’t say, I can virtually guarantee, is how many Palestinians Israel has been killing in Gaza over the past few months.

The statistics on the Israeli human rights organization Btselem’s website don’t give a breakdown by region, but remember that Israeli killings of civilians in the territories are constant and have been for years, and that Rafah is perhaps the most intense zone of all-out war against the population. You should look at the tables. I just thought it would be interesting to look at the past year — from last November to this November, bearing in mind that a large share of the Palestinians killed are killed in Rafah.

So, from November 2003, the Israeli military has killed 814 Palestinians, 185 of them children, in the Occupied Palestinian territories, according to Btselem’s figures. In the same period, Palestinian attacks killed 60 Israeli civilians, 8 of whom were children, and 42 Israeli security personnel (total of 102 Israelis, 8 of whom were children, though attacks on military personnel and civilians are different morally and legally and should be treated as such).

Of course, it’s not a simple matter of weighing 814 Palestinian deaths, including 185 children, against 107 Israeli deaths, including 8 children. No Israeli children are in Palestinian prisons, for example, and hundreds of Palestinian children are in Israeli prisons. For that matter no Israelis are in Palestinian prisons but thousands of Palestinians are in Israeli jails. No Israeli children are malnourished because Palestinians refuse to allow them basic services, but 22% of Palestinian children in Gaza are malnourished according to UN figures because of Israel’s closures policy. Palestinian tanks, helicopters, and fighter planes do not routinely attack Israeli towns or drive around in them enforcing curfews and denying children their right to education, but the reverse does occur.

And of course, the 814 Palestinians who were killed over the past months, for the most part, were killed in impunity and silence, whereas the Israeli deaths, like those of today, were reported.

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