In recent fighting with Islamic Jihad half of Gaza deaths were likely caused by errant Palestinian rockets

An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire has apparently ended a round of fighting between the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad and Israel, during which the Palestinian terrorist group fired at least 1100 rockets and mortars at Israel, with around 200 of them falling short and hitting Gaza1.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry claims that 44 Palestinian civilians were killed in the fighting, including 15 children (as of 11:25 PM local time on August 7), and Palestinians have blamed each of these deaths on Israel.

However, according to the Israel Defense Forces radar intercepts and video prove that errant Palestinian rockets killed at least nine Palestinian civilians, including four children in the Jabaliya refugee camp:

But what about the other errant rockets – how many Gazans did they kill? Even with Israeli radar data, without knowing where and when people were killed in Gaza, it is impossible to definitively answer this question.

However, it is possible to estimate, following the analysis used by the author to assess the toll of errant Palestinian rockets in the May 2021 conflict.

How Many Gaza Palestinians Were Killed by Hamas Rockets in May? An Estimate, published by the BESA Center in June 2021, first assessed the deadliness of Palestinian rockets, based on the toll of rockets that got through Israeli defenses and hit cities and towns. It then accounted for differences in population density between Israel and Gaza, and the effectiveness of Israeli civil defenses2, including early warning alerts, safe rooms, and bomb shelters.

Putting these factors together for the present hostilities, based on the current data it can be expected that 200 errant Palestinian rockets would have killed roughly 27 Gaza residents, or about half of the currently known (or perhaps admitted) death toll according to Hamas.

Finally, even though Hamas counts all Palestinian deaths as civilian, there’s no question that a significant number of these deaths were Israeli-targeted Islamic Jihad members, underscoring that many of the actual civilian deaths were the result of errant Palestinian rockets rather than Israeli attacks.

1. The number of Islamic Jihad projectiles fired and misfired has been updated with the latest data, which also changed the estimate for the number of Palestinian deaths caused by the misfired rockets.
2. As of 2014 the Hamas rulers of Gaza had spent more than $1.25 billion on military tunnels to protect their terrorists and rocket launchers. Considering the extensive development of Hamas’s tunnel infrastructure since then, it’s quite possible that the total now exceeds $2 billion. However, Hamas has spent nothing on civil defense to protect Gaza civilians.

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