How Many Gaza Palestinians Were Killed by Hamas Rockets in May? An Estimate

Numbers were at the heart of much of the coverage and commentary surrounding the fighting in May between Hamas and Israel. One example was the front page New York Times story and photo spread about the number of (mostly) Palestinian children killed. The images were accompanied by charges that because more Palestinians died, Israel must have used disproportionate force and therefore committed a war crime. By this logic, Nazi Germany was the victim in WWII and the US the unlawful aggressor, because 14 times more Germans than Americans were killed.

Beyond this, if one looks at the numbers from the May conflict more closely, they tell a very different story from that propounded by Hamas and most media outlets.

First of all, the number of deaths is actually very low for such an intense conflict, a testament to Israel’s Iron Dome and civil defense systems, and its use of precision weapons and warnings aimed at minimizing Palestinian civilian deaths. Of course, Hamas aims to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible, but its rockets place both Israelis and Palestinians in peril, because many of those rockets—in this case 680—misfire and explode inside Gaza. The death and destruction caused is, of course, usually blamed on Israel. The question addressed here is how many Palestinians are likely to have been killed by these errant Palestinian rockets in May. The quite conservative estimate arrived at is 91, amounting to at least 36% of the alleged Palestinian death toll.

The full details have been published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, a leading Israeli think tank associated with Bar-Ilan University.