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Did Israel kill too many civilians to win the war?

The proportion of civilian deaths already vastly outpaces America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. Credit: Getty

December 19, 2023 - 7:00am

When Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October, the scale and brutality of its assault won the Jewish state one of the most powerful, if intangible, weapons in any country’s arsenal: international sympathy. For the first time in many decades, Israel could plausibly be viewed as a victim, and the international community broadly accepted both Israel’s moral right and political compulsion to extirpate Hamas from Gaza. 

Just over two months later, and the poles have been reversed: the sheer scale of civilian fatalities in the Gaza war has caused even Israel’s closest allies to blanch. On Saturday the UK Foreign Secretary published a joint op-ed with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock, observing that “too many civilians have been killed” and calling for “a sustainable ceasefire”. More pressingly for Israel, US President Joe Biden has warned that its “indiscriminate bombing” has meant that the country is “starting to lose [international] support”. 

The proportion of civilian deaths already vastly outpaces America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the comparable air-led Coalition campaigns to root out Isis from Raqqa and Mosul. Around 25,000 Palestinians have been killed so far, including around 5,000 Hamas fighters according to Israel: roughly one-sixth of the group’s total numbers. Indeed, the proportion of civilian deaths is higher than the average for even the bloodiest 20th-century conflicts. 

More of Gaza has been damaged or destroyed than the RAF managed in the bombing campaigns against Dresden and Cologne, now bywords for indiscriminate aerial bombing. According to US intelligence agencies, almost half of the munitions used have been unguided bombs, perhaps because Israel is storing up its guided munitions for potential use against Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

While Israeli military casualties have been lower than anticipated at the beginning of the war — with only 129 soldiers killed in Gaza so far — the staggering scale of civilian deaths is in itself a strategic millstone for Israel. As pressure for a ceasefire builds, the US is urging Israel to transition to a lower-intensity phase of the conflict “in a matter of weeks, not months”. The risk for Israel is that, as well as eroding international legitimacy for its response to the 7 October atrocities, the scale of civilian deaths will force the IDF to call a halt to its campaign before it achieves its war aims of destroying Hamas. 

Could things have been different? The only viable alternative solution for Israel would have been to accept a higher level of IDF casualties, in a ground-led operation in which aerial bombing would have been used sparingly, against targets of tactical opportunity. This would have followed Coalition practice in Raqqa and Mosul, though even then the two cities were largely levelled, with civilians killed in their thousands. Yet more carefully calibrated use of air power could have reframed the international debate away from the current binary between a total ceasefire and total military victory, affording Israel more space to conduct its campaign towards a successful conclusion. 

Even here, however, success would depend on the IDF’s attitude towards preventing civilian harm. The killing this weekend by IDF ground troops of Israeli hostages waving a white flag and the “murder” by Israeli snipers of two Catholic women in a church compound highlights that either IDF rules of engagement or the level of training undertaken by its conscripts depart markedly from Western norms. As a consequence, civilian suffering may soon allow Hamas to claw back a bloody victory from the edge of military defeat. Disastrous for Palestinian civilians, the IDF’s seemingly lax attitude to target acquisition may be seen by Israelis, within a few weeks, as “worse than a crime, a mistake”.


Aris Roussinos is an UnHerd columnist and a former war reporter.

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Matt M
Matt M
7 months ago

Last month news came that the Israelis had bombed a hospital and killed 500 civilians.

Then it turned out that it was actually Islamic Jihad that had bombed the hospital by mistake.

Then we heard the news that they actually bombed the hospital’s car park and there were no casualties.

How can any numbers from Hamas be trusted?

Last edited 7 months ago by Matt M
Frank Freeman
Frank Freeman
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

That was proven to be a hoax. When examined by experts it was proven that a Islamic Jihad rocket could not have done that much damage, and the missile broke the sound barrier, something home-made rockets cannot do. This is an example of Israeli propaganda so bad that only a determined racist would believe it.

Samantha Stevens
Samantha Stevens
7 months ago
Reply to  Frank Freeman

I don’t recall that ever having been proven a hoax.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago
Reply to  Frank Freeman

Holy crap. This is deluded

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Frank is reading Hamas news

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  Frank Freeman

100%

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
6 months ago
Reply to  Frank Freeman

Absolute garbage. Listen to what Hamas actually say and profess. In any European context they would be considered on the extreme right wing. Israel is not teaching its people to hate Arabs – Hamas is.

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
6 months ago
Reply to  Frank Freeman

Sorry, but you are lying.
The BBC blindly repeated the Hamas claim that a hospital had been destroyed and hundreds inside killed by Israeli bombs.
It soon transpired, and was proven beyond any doubt, that there was a relatively small explosion in the hospital carpark that left a crater in the tarmac smaller than the average pothole in my local high street.
The source of the explosion was never proven, but from the size it could certainly have been an errant Hamas rocket.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  Frank Freeman

It was not proven to be anything of the kind. There’s not a single fact in your deluded fantasy you poor sap.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago
Reply to  Coralie Palmer

Unrespectful wording, not helpful for the discussion.

Andrew F
Andrew F
6 months ago
Reply to  Frank Freeman

You are Free man in the West, so you spout your Hamas propaganda.
You are not free in Hamas controlled territory.

AC Harper
AC Harper
7 months ago

Perhaps if the international community had not delivered such large amounts of ‘aid’ indirectly to HAMAS then there would be no HAMAS and no terrorist infrastructure worth destroying?
Perhaps the (alleged) loss of civilian life is a side effect of Israel becoming unwilling to allow international meddling any more space to create more terrorism?
The Western world wants the warm fuzzy glow of helping the oppressed. Israel wants to survive.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

“international community” – ha. Try “The Netanyahu-led Government of Israel”
https://edition.cnn.com/2023/12/11/middleeast/qatar-hamas-funds-israel-backing-intl/index.html
For years and until very recently, Netanyahu funnelled money to Hamas with the intention of establishing it as a conter-weight to Fatah for the express purpose of frustrating the peace process – which he personally opposed.
Does that affect your view?

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

No, it doesn’t affect my view. Netanyahu’s policy of using Hamas to diminish the Palestinian Authority has clearly backfired but it was rational. There was no peace process to frustrate. Hamas doesn’t want a two-state solution any more than Netanyahu. The 2SS is just a figleaf for helpless, hopeless and hapless Western politicians like our own Foreign Secretary to hide behind, so the issue can be left in their pending tray.
Hamas pulled the trigger on 7 October. No-one else is responsible for the consequences.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago

Well, that’s an honest answer at least.
But I would ask you this. Why was there no peace process to frustrate?
The closest the parties came was in the 90s when Rabin and Arafat signed the Oslo Accords. He was, of course, assassinated by an Israeli right-winger before he could go to the country. And, opposition to the Oslo accords was lead by… Benjamin Netanyahu who had been holding violent rallies against the accords, waving nooses and so on. Netanyahu has spent 25+ years as an implacable obstacle to peace.
If there was no peace process it was, in part because Netanyahu destroyed it.
None of which exonerates Hamas for their crimes over the years and on 7th October.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Excellent response.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
3 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

It takes two to Tango and two to make peace. The Palestinians have turned down every opportunity for peace ever offered to them. Further the Palestinian regimes both in Gaza and the West Bank are brutal kleptocratic thugs. Nice to see that you support them. Now the refusal of the Palestinians to make peace is based on the tenets of Islam which perhaps you should acquaint yourself with. “From the River to the Sea” is not simply a Palestinian chant expressed by a few extremist but rather than majority held view. Islam is and always has been about conquering the infidel and nothing has changed since its founding.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago

Isreal is responsible for the murderous deaths of thousands of women and children no matter how you want to dress it up.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago

Whereas Hamas are just sweet-hearted peaceniks, and there is no such thing as an international crisis of violent Islamist terrorism on three continents that has produced thousands of innocent victims for more than twenty years.

Last edited 6 months ago by Coralie Palmer
Walter Schwager
Walter Schwager
6 months ago
Reply to  Coralie Palmer

Unlike the US unwarranted invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, support for illegal coups in Chile, etc

William Cameron
William Cameron
6 months ago

You could argue that the residents of Gaza chose Hamas as their leaders so brought retribution upon themselves.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Some people are just not keen on hearing the truth. It gets in the way of their prejudice

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago

see what I mean

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Israel was trying to buy peace. It was obviously a mistake.

Last edited 7 months ago by Jim Veenbaas
Walter Schwager
Walter Schwager
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You mean, through settlers’ violence?

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

It won’t affect his view at all. He’s a dyed in the wool right wing demagogue who just wants Israel to stick it to the Arabs and to hell with the soft bellied, lily livered liberal lefties

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago

Whereas your view is of course entirely rational and balanced.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

You’re right about Netanyahu and AC Harper is right about international aid to Hamas. Both policies are hopelessly wrong-headed.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
7 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Spot on.

Martin M
Martin M
7 months ago

The biggest problem is that Hamas unashamedly hides behind civilians, making civilian casualties unavoidable.

Kieran Saxon
Kieran Saxon
7 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

There are only two options for high civilian deaths, Israeli intent or incompetence? No – there’s also shielding, which is a war crime. Same as holding hostages, etc.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

https://www.972mag.com/mass-assassination-factory-israel-calculated-bombing-gaza/
Conducting aerial bombardments of heavily populated areas makes some civilian casualties unavoidable. This is not that. The linked article (whose reporting has been confirmed by Western outlets) confirms that Israel has, in fact done two things which have massively increased the extent of civilian casualties.
First, they have used AI in order to generate targets more quickly and, second, they have changed their rules of engagement such that much larger numbers of civilians are considered “acceptable” levels of collateral damage.

Xaven Taner
Xaven Taner
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

This is what modern barbarism looks like. Technologically enhanced, internationally financed, indiscriminate slaughter. Some folks think technological supremacy equates to moral supremacy. History will judge them.
At least Hamas had to look their victims in the eye.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

Maybe Hamas should build some bomb shelters.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

Excellent.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
6 months ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

As they raped, slit their throats and abducted then. Your analysis makes the entire Allied War effort in WW2 a crime. So in fact you would through your unhinged and biased propaganda would then materially aided a Nazi victory.

I’m a gay man. It’s at least very clear to me, if not deluded western progressives, who.my enemies are.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Not accurate.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Do go on

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
6 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Both are exigencies of war, and neither in any way equate to the deliberate slaughter and rape of civilians. Then of course we have the extremely well known fact that Hamas places its – entirely unjustified in itself – offensive military infrastructure among civilians.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

It is also worth saying that, having military infrastructure in densely populated areas is not, in itself a war crime and does not amount to the use of human shields (as a legal matter). Military organisations are not required to locate all of their infrastructure in theopen where it is vulnerable to airstrikes.
The definitition of using human shields actually involves taking military action (firing weapons) from behind civilian cover. Hamas has certainly been known to fire rockets from civilian buildings. But the IDF has history here too.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_shields_in_the_Israeli%E2%80%93Palestinian_conflict

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Having military hardware in populated areas may not be a war crime, but it leads to some foreseeable results. And ‘war crime’ is becoming a talking point right along with ‘hate speech.’

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Hamas has built no bomb shelters. It wants victims.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It has tunnels though wink wink

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Wikipedia is not a reliable source. We were treated to an interview regarding this some years ago. Freddie interviewing Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=l0P4Cf0UCwU

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

You’re running rings around them George

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Gosh nice use of hair-splitting semantics there.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

It’s difficult not to in s pace so condensed. Have a bit of wit.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago

Yeah right. Just as it’s been impossible for Hamas to build any infrastructure with its millions of international aid, let alone any bomb shelters.

Avro Lanc
Avro Lanc
7 months ago

Hamas is responsible for EVERY SINGLE DEATH in this war. Israel is in a fight for her very survival.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  Avro Lanc

Hamas is no more capable of taking over Israel than the IRA would have been in overrunning Britain. I can imagine the Americans response wouldn’t have been quite as forgiving if the RAF had carpet bombed the Republican areas of Belfast whenever a bomb went off in England

Josef O
Josef O
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I wonder what you would have written if your wife or children would have been butchered on October 7th.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  Josef O

The emotions would probably be very similar to what they would be if they’d been killed by the Israeli bombing campaign that followed it to be honest.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Billy Bob: you are very gullible which is exactly what Hamas wants from Western naifs and bleeding heart liberals. The fact is that nobody has any clue as to what the true civilian casulaties are in Gaza. But one thing is for absolute certain: they are not the numbers the Hamas has simply plucked out of their rear end. As for indiscriminate bombing by the IDF, do realize that the IDF drops l;eaflets and phones civilian households in Gaza indicating that they should move out of a particular building as it will be bombed in 30 min. What other fighting force does that?

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Gazan health ministry casualty lists have been (broadly) correct in previous cycles of violence. Could you show your evidence for the contention that they are lying this time?
Also, if it turns out that they are not lying and that these are the accurate figures, would your view change?

Liakoura
Liakoura
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Was this the Health Ministry that allowed Hamas to store weapons and explosives in its hospitals?
With a gun at your head and you were told to say 19,000 dead, would you be asking if the gun was loaded?

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Of course he wouldn’t. He’d go on sailing down the Blue Danube in his fantasy world.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago

Says the arch-fantasist

xenophon a
xenophon a
7 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

I’m a right wing nationalist,not a left wing liberal, and I support Palestine.
The RAF never dropped 2,000lb bombs on Belfast, so our army would be the answer.
Amazing that you pretend Israel has higher standards than other countries, when actually it gets away woth a level of brutality than would make any other Western country a pariah state.
The Afrikaner government of South Africa had far more claim to the land (its people had been there for 400 years, not 70, and) and was far less brutal to its subject population than the Israelis have been to the Palestinians. (less blacks were killed by South African security forces in 40 years than Israel has killed Palestinians in the last few weeks). And yet the West didn’t just not support it like they do Israel, they actively worked to destroy it and overthrow its government. Funny how according to people like you, Jews have a “right” to their own ethnostate, but white Europeans don’t

Last edited 7 months ago by xenophon a
Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  xenophon a

Brilliant response.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago

I think ‘desperate’ is the mot juste.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
6 months ago
Reply to  xenophon a

The Jews were in the Holy land 2,500 years ago. But it’s fascinating you like most anti Israel commentators deny it’s right to existence within any boundaries. Some are more honest than others I suppose…

The Afrikaners claimed all the land of South Africa, not a tiny fraction of an enormous land area, as Israel occupies. The comparison between a limited if very brutal policing operation within SA against unarmed civilians with a series of existential wars with external powers is also ridiculous in itself.

Your last comment is total garbage. Germans have, er, Oh Germany, the French have err .
..let me see..oh that’s it France.

The fact that these states are not run by extreme right wingers like yourself is not the same issue.

Last edited 6 months ago by Andrew Fisher
xenophon a
xenophon a
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Lol you absolute liar. The German do not have Germany, the French do not have France. Like all other white Western countries they have been required to state that, unlike the Jews their own native population has no special right to their own country, and that freshly arrived Nigerian or Afghan immigrants are “just as German/French/British as the indigenous people of those nations”

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago
Reply to  xenophon a

> Jews have a “right” to their own ethnostate, but white Europeans don’t <
You have a good point here. This is pure double standard and a reason most of the rest of the world is not getting along well with Jewish exceptionalism. And it is a fact that people who stubbornly keep hating each other cannot live together well in on state. It is a tragedy they both keep sabotaging any compromise toward a two state solution.

Georg Reutter
Georg Reutter
7 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Where are all the 20 thousand + bodies that according to Hamas have been killed? Surely the Hamas would happily show the thousands of graves and flood social media with endless funeral scenes. Western media is far too keen to use unproven Hamas figures. Once out these numbers stick.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  Georg Reutter

Spoken like a true eejit. The only owns I’ve seen bulldozing dead bodies into mass graves have been the IDF.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

It they’re that far wrong why are Israel or the States publishing their own? The amount of diplomatic pressure being put on Israel surely they’d oppose the figures from Gaza if they were heavily inflated?

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Phone civilian households? Now who is being gullible!? As if the IDF have the phone details of every citizen in Gaza. You really haven’t a clue do you? The death toll will probably be closer to 30 or 40 by this stage when the bodies buried under millions of tonnes of rubble are accounted for.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

…while Hamas considers ALL Israeli people legitimate targets, the IDF at least TRIES to spare civilians, a goal they seem to fail frequently while their main objective remains to get rid of Hamas for good – which is improbable for them to achieve. I would not want to be e decision maker in the IDF. They seem to have a conscience while Hamas is promoting „martyrdom“.

Josef O
Josef O
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I was expecting your reply, but you reverse the dates. What started it all ?
Israel did not have the slightest intention to go into this. It was dragged into it by the most revolting massacre/pogrom humanity has seen in the 21st century. Full stop.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
6 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Ever since the Husseini Clan won the Arab Palestinian war in the 1930s they have been determined to attack Jews. As late as the 1940s , Britain asked Arab land owners not to sell land to Jewish settlers. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, a Husseini, was a friend of Himmler and supported the Final Solution.
If the Arabs had not attacked Jewish settlements, Order Wingate would not have founded The Special Night squads of which Moshe Dayan was member. Many Jewish people fought in Commando/Special Forces Units  which gave them the experience and skills to win in 1948. Apart from the Trans-Jordanian Force under Glubb, no Arab fought with the allies in WW2, so gained so skills or experience.  The Arab Nations promised to exterminate Israel in 1948 and asked Palestinians Arabs to leave their homes to better facilitate then slaughter. King Abdullah, one Arab to defeat a Jewish Army(due to Trans-Jordan force trained by Glubb)  was murdered by Palestinian Arabs in 1951. The Palestinians tried on many occasions to kill King Hussein of Jordan and tried to take over the country in 1970. In 1990 Arafat supported Hussein in his invasion of Kuwait and lost support for the Palestinians The Camp David Accord in 2000 under Clinton looked to promise peace but Arafat walked away. Israel left Gaza in 2005 and infrastructure was destroyed. How much of the aid given to Palestinians has been used in violence against Israel or taken by it’s leaders?
The Palestinians have lost support of many of the Arab Nations, especially GCC.
How does Israel get back it’s hostages and prevent another Hamas attack ? As Abba Eban said “The Palestinians  never stop making mistakes !” Why have the Palestinians not produced leader of the calibre of Abba Evan who would run rings around Netanyahu?
Abba Eban – Wikipedia
Hamas could have built bomb shelters, removed military infrastructure from civilian targets and only killed Israeli soldiers and not gang raped women, murdered babies and taken babies and women as hostages. A precision military strike by Hamas  would have made it politically far more difficult for   Israel to invade Gaza. Or Hamas could have undertaken a precision attack on Netanyahu and his cabinet. If a Hamas had shot dead Netanyahu plus other military leaders say from a distance of 2500 m they could say we are a militay organisation which only kills military and political leaders. Then with a Palestinian diplomat with the skills of a Abba Eban it would put Israel in a a difficult politcal position. What earnt Israel massive respect was the rescue of hostages at Entebbe. However, raping women and murdering babies do not require military skills.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Josef O

I wonder whether you would have written that response if your wife or children had bee butchered in an IRA bomb attack.
Of course god old Uncle Sam was funding the IRA

Josef O
Josef O
7 months ago

Each conflict has its own profile. Why are you mixing ?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Josef O

The point was perfectly valid

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago

It really wasn’t. Hamas and the IRA are not comparable.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  Josef O

I was merely showing the difference in response to a terrorist attack from that of a civilised society such as Britain compared to that of a regime such as Israel’s. The IDF killed more civilians in a week than Britain did in over 30 years of the troubles, despite the IRA largely being resident in the housing estates of Northern Ireland

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

When did the IRA rape, butcher, mutilate, burn and behead close to a thousand civilians including children and babies in one day? All the while documenting their acts and laughing about it. Must have missed this one.

Last edited 7 months ago by Lesley van Reenen
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago

They didn’t think twice about murdering children with nail bombs, let’s not pretend one group of murdering terrorists is more moral than the other in an attempt to justify Israel’s murderous indiscriminate bombing campaign

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
6 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

What a naif..Was the Allied bombing campaign against Germany “murderous and indiscriminate”?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

No, it was largely targeted at destroying Germanys factories and hinder their industrial output, which in turn prevented them arming the front lines efficiently. Israel bombing tower blocks is completely different as Hamas doesn’t have any industrial facilities to destroy

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

And the reason they don’t is that the highly-developed infrastructure Israel left Gaza with has been abandoned and destroyed, and the wealth of international aid has been directed not at rebuilding or replacing it, but on weapons and systems of war.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Just for the record: Of course one goal of allied bombing campaigns was to destroy military infrastructure. But it is also a fact that carpet bombing of German cities explicitly targeted the civilian population in order to undermine their morale, an objective they largely failed on.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Er, the IRA had zero interest in obliterating the British as a people. Nor did it generate and implement an ideology that has created an international crisis of Islamist terrorism on three continents. But don’t let those details get in your way of contending there’s no difference between the IRA and Hamas.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
6 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

A false comparison.One a limited anti insurgency operation within its own territory. The other an act of external aggression from a territory the Israelis had actually withdrawn from! If the IRA had launching endless suicide and rocket attacks from Ireland, it might have been a very different matter.

Where by the way is the international outcry against the expulsion of 120,000 Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh or many other cases?

xenophon a
xenophon a
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

“external aggression” lol, Gaza is an occupied territory or an occupied people under the full illegal military control and blockade of the Israeli state.

Last edited 6 months ago by xenophon a
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

You missed all the bombings in England by the IRA then did you?

Danny D
Danny D
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Rockets have been going down on Israel incessantly for years now. 7th Oct was different. If the IRA had murdered 1000+ innocents in a single day and then hid among the civilian population, I can imagine things would have looked different as well. It just doesn’t compare.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

But the point is, BB, that Hamas does not recognise their current incapability to take over Israel. They will continue to try to do so, using the barbarism seen on 7 October and worse. They will continue for a thousand years if necessary, unless they are destroyed. It’s a religious imperative.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago

Muslim mindset is prone to rely heavily on the victim narrative. This is a recipe for success on the propaganda front only, both among their people und clueless goodhearted westerners. At the same time it is one of the reasons a muslim-dominated country without natural resources stays dependent on foreign aid. Had the leaders in Gaza invested the billions of from the EU in civilian infrastructure instead of weaponry and tunnels and refrained from attacking Israel (which they will never be able to defeat) they could prosper instead of starve.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

My word. Here we have the terrorist apologist again.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago

I’m not the one excusing 10,000 children being killed in two months, that would be all those who proclaim that the Israelis are beyond reproach.
I’ve also never once excused Hamas actions as I think they’re barbaric

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Terrorist Apologist – one baby deliberately roasted in the oven does not equate to one child killed in combat, especially when the people had been warned to leave.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago

That has never been substantiated and is likely a myth like the German soldiers eating babies as claimed in 1st World War propaganda. Need to grow up a bit Lesley. You’d believe anything.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago

It’s odd that you seem to believe many assertions as daft as Lesley’s, providing it’s pro-Hamas. You seem to be under the impression that the interests of Hamas have something in common with those of Palestinians, about whom Hamas couldn’t care less.

Last edited 6 months ago by Coralie Palmer
Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Your views on Hamas won’t wash with these zealots.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
6 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

…..but presumably shouldn’t actually in any practical way be opposed. Of course Israel puts the lives of its own citizens above those of an enemy state, as any state in the world would.

Last edited 6 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Andrew F
Andrew F
6 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

So what is your proposed solution to Hamas hiding within civilian population of Gaza while fighting Israel?
1) should Israel just stop attacking Hamas to allow them to regroup and attack again?
2) Or should Israel just sacrifice more soldiers to save Gazan civilians who were cheering Hamas atrocities?
Of course Israel is not going to do any of the above.
We and USA were not exactly squimish about bombing German or Japanese cities.
Or even French cities during Normandy landings and subsequent fighting.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Very true.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

There really is no parallel between the IRA and Hamas other than they both used bombs. I doubt whether the American response would have continued to be quite so forgiving to the IRA had they bombed New York or Boston. And the IRA wasn’t remotely interested – unlike Hamas – in obliterating their enemies as a people.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  Avro Lanc

Don’t be ridiculous. With the amount of lethal fire power as well as atomic weapons they’re about close to defeat or an existential crisis as Man City would be playing Blythe Spartans in the FA Cup.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
7 months ago

There were plenty people out celebrating on 7th October.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
7 months ago

These are actually the people who deserved to be bombed. The Hamas savages set the human race back centuries, and the politics of these protestors have done the same. In between, there are some cynical forces of ethnic cleansing at play but it’s difficult to see a better overall objective even if the means are foul.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
7 months ago

I didn’t realize there was a headcount limit in such things. Did the Allies kill too many civilians in Dresden or Hiroshima? And what would a “sustainable ceasefire” look like? A ceasefire was in place when the October 7 depravity occurred, an event that is on the verge of being memory holed.
Could things have been different, asks Aris. Well, yes; Hamas could have stopped behaving like 12th century barbarians and care more for the people under its governance than about the folks next door.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Who needs a head count? Kill all 2 million Gazans. Why not come out and say it?

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago

Because that’s not what he’s saying. Twit.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
7 months ago

There are virtually no independent journalists in Gaza, for the very good reason that Islamist terrorist groups such as Hamas have a long history of kidnapping and killing journalists. Organisations such as UNHCR and WHO have a very thin presence and have been compromised in any case. The alleged civilian death figures are simply announced by Hamas and reported as fact. It is likely that both the Hamas deaths as stated by Israel, and the civilian death toll as claimed by Hamas, are overstated, particularly if the death toll is out of line with previous conflicts, where some level independent verification was subsequently possible.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Is any of this true? I don’t think it is.
A brief search for references to journalists kidnapped and killed in Gaza returned only this story from 2007. Alan Johnston was freed after 16 weeks in captivity. He was held be an Islamist group but Hamas were actually instrumental in getting him out – threatening his captors with an armed raid.
https://www.theguardian.com/media/2007/jul/04/middleeastthemedia.israel2
As to UNHCR and WHO they have local staff on the ground, many of whom have been killed which is why Sec Gen Martin Griffeths went to visit UNHCR facilities (and staff) a few weeks ago. He described what he saw as the worst humanitarian crisis of his career.
https://www.ft.com/content/01b592be-47c7-4a20-9bbd-621aa40f7640
Civilian casualty figures are being reported not as fact but as credible because, in previous cycles of conflict, the figures released by (Hamas controlled) health authorities in Gaza have been broadly correct. Moreover, all of the casualities listed have been accompanied by Israeli-issued ID numbers. Finally, given the extraordinary levels of damage to infrastructure – along with restrictions in fuels, medicine and water, it would be astonishing if the casualty figures were anything but enormous.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Good to hear about Hamas’s commitment to a free press. Hamas instigated a rape, killing and kidnapping spree on October 7th specifically to provoke an Israeli attack on Gaza which could trigger a conflagration from which Hamas and its backers hoped to benefit. But of course having done that Hamas wouldn’t possibly lie about civilian casualties, because they’re so honest about such things.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

You made a specific charge – kidnapping and killing journalists. I’m not sure that’s true and I explained why.

I also made a distinction between accepting things as fact and treating them as credible based on precedent.

You don’t have to like or trust Hamas. But you don’t seem to have much evidence

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Aris Roussinos doesn’t have much evidence – apart from Hamas assertion – that 25,000 Palestinians have been killed so far, but he managed to get a whole article out of it. Hamas claims about the death toll is being used to put political pressure on, and to isolate, Israel, which in itself provides motivation to exaggerate. We know from, for example, their claims around the supposed 500 deaths from the missile strike on the al-Ahli Arab Hospital that Hamas officials have form in making startlingly rapid claims around death tolls which (certainly in that case) could not be verified. Western media outlets are reluctant to send journalists into locations controlled by Islamic terrorists, including Gaza, due to a long history of hostage taking of journalists in such places, including John McCarthy, John Cantile and many others. Hamas has run Gaza as a police state for nearly 20 years and, in the absence of an independent international media presence, have long controlled the flow of information out of Gaza. Anyone making confident statements about events there based on claims by Hamas officials is at best naive. That is not to say civilian casualties are not very high. But Hamas have made that inevitable, and it suits them very well.

George Venning
George Venning
6 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

there’s an assertion, and a source and a track record to that source.
You on the other hand have… what? A hunch?
Certainly you don’t have an Israeli approved figure because they haven’t published one.
You probably disputed the figure when it was 7,000 too, and when it was 15,000.
The point is that most of the buildings in Gaza have been damaged. It is winter, a population that was already suffering high rates of food insecurity has now had almost all food cut off. There are huge numbers of (mostly unguided) munitions raining down and IDF troops on the ground are firing so indistcriminately that three escaped Israeli hostages who were stripped to the waist, waving a white flag and shouting in Hebrew were gunned down before anyone realised who they were.
If, despite all that, you think that only a few people will have died because… leaflets and warnings or something then fine. That’s your affair. But, for now, this is the only figure that anyone has.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

I notice you don’t deal with his essential point – the history of taking journalists as hostages, and the consequent shortage of trustworthy information from Gaza. Because you can’t.

George Venning
George Venning
6 months ago
Reply to  Coralie Palmer

I did actually. Look above

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Excellent point excellently made. Thank you.

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

I keep hearing that “in previous cycles of conflict, the figures released by (Hamas controlled) health authorities in Gaza have been broadly correct. ” How do we know that? Who has verified that? The New York Times, in its semi-apology for taking literally and publishing the false story of the 500 dead at the hospital story said that the in previous figures released by Hamas have been broadly correct. It never provided any evidence for this statement.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

You’re all over these zealots George. Excellent.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago

Interesting how keen you are to use the word ‘zealot’ about anyone who disagrees with you. Awfully keen. Almost… zealous.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

As much as I dislike reducing civilian casualties to statistics, even the death toll claimed by Hamas is less than 1% of Gaza’s population. That strikes me as low given the circumstances.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Just for context. British casualties in WWII amounted to around 1% of the population. The vast majority of them serving personel.
Civilian fatalities were around 70,000 i.e. about 0.14% of the population.
So Gaza’s experience has been roughly equivalent to the UK in WWII except that it happened over two months, the vast majority of the casualties were civilians and children and everywhere is Coventry.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Hamas could surrender now and all the killing would stop. Why don’t they?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago

Hamas could ask the same question of the IDF

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago

Hamas still has 200 hostages.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago

Israel could end the occupation and comply with International law as set out in multiple UN resolutions. In reality, they are continuing to make violent incursions all over the West Bank. Hamas is not in the West Bank. Settlers are killing civilians anyway.
This is not a one sided conflict

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Britain of course built bomb shelters. Not so much with Hamas.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Not as many as you might think actually. And the government only allowed access to the tube network after Communists from the east end occupied the basement of the Savoy.

Peter Hitchens has suggested that the war effort might have collapsed over this very issue if Buckingham Palace had not been hit.

(I take your point though)

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Never knew this. Thanks

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Er, what has this to do with anything?

Last edited 7 months ago by Thomas Templeton
Will Rolf
Will Rolf
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

In this case, German casualties are a more appropriate comparison. The Germans also were the aggressors and did not surrender with a fight. Overall casualties were approaching 10% with civilian casualties approaching 3%. This “allied genocide” appears to be a war crime by modern standards.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago
Reply to  Will Rolf

And Russian casualties higher than that. I’m not saying that the casualty numbers make Israel’s actions a war crime. I’m providing context to Judy Englander, who seems to think that 1% fatalities are no big deal

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

I didn’t say or imply that the casualties are ‘no big deal’ (although I think they’re inevitable given the circumstances). Don’t misrepresent me.

George Venning
George Venning
6 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

I thought your original comment did rather imply it but if that isn’t what you meant then, of course, I am very happy to apologise.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
7 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

It’s unusually high in such a short period of time, even allowing for Hamas placing military targets in civilian areas, and denying civilians access to tunnels or any other forms of protection. We can but hope that the toll is overstated, but tragically severe civilian casualties in Gaza were inevitable once Hamas launched the October 7th attacks.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

You don’t like reducing civilian deaths to statistics and then proceed to do just that. 1%. Maybe not even enough Judy, eh? Let’s get it up a few percentage points. Would 5 or 10% be enough for you.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

So why don’t Israel let in objective observers and free international press to report on the truth insteadof killing almost 100 jornalists? Simple. Like any true fascist state they need to control the press and control the narrative.

Johan Grönwall
Johan Grönwall
7 months ago

”Around 25,000 Palestinians have been killed so far,”

According to the Hamas Health Ministry (a contradiction on terms of ever there was one) I guess? Yeasterday the numbers were 18 000. Today 25 000?

Before the ceasefire it was 12 000. On the day Hamas broke the ceasefire it was suddenly 15 000.

This trust of Hamas numbers to measure out the length of the war for Israel is distinctive of how Israel is treated differently than other countries. After 9/11 few protested the invasion of Afghanistan. Which cost more muslim civilan lives than Hamas could ever dream of.

Hamas has many friends in the West it seems. And democracies are no longer permitted to defend themselves because it enrages the muslim voters in Europe who supports Hamas?

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
7 months ago

Indeed! It’s a poor reflection upon UnHeard for this author to accept inflated casualty amounts, I’d rather expect them to publish pieces that consider the moral questions in a more sober light, with realistic figures instead of absurd ones.

Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
7 months ago

So Gaza is suffering as Dresden and Berlin suffered? If you don’t like the consequences, don’t start the war!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Doyle

But who did start it?

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Doyle

The milk of human kindness eh. Happy Christmas Stalin.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago

Or indeed Hamas.

Kathleen Burnett
Kathleen Burnett
7 months ago

The present issue of civilian casualties is part of a much wider conflict between religions and an even bigger issue of civilisations. The Western media focusses exclusively on the casualties in Gaza, whereas the Israeli leadership may have the bigger picture in mind. Israel is the one country in the region where an attempt is made at Western civic values. Remove Israel and you have an entire region of theocratic states. They might, one day, unite into a unified political and cultural block; a prospect which will no doubt make the Zombies in the West very happy. Difficult choices for all at present, but too early to take an audit.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago

An entire region of theocratic states? What nonsense. Only Iran and (arguably) Saudi Arabia are theocracies.
Turkey is officially secular (like France), Jordan is a monarchy, Syria is headed by an Alawite (who would be considered a heretic in neighbouring Iran). Qatar, Dubai and the UAE are monarchies of a pretty secular hue. Egypt is a military junta which goes to extraordinary lengths tosuppress the Muslim brotherhood.
Now, all those countries have a propnounced muslim ethos. But that is because they are all historically muslim majority countries. Their muslim character comes form the culture of their people in the same way that Italy, Spain and Poland are Catholic countries despite the fact that none has an established church.
The point about Israel is that it is the only state in the region (or anywhere else I can think of) where the state maintains an ethnic/religious character which does not reflect the make-up of the population. The achievement of this feat requires both rapid immigration (especially from eastern Europe) and the exclusion of large numbers of non-jews from full political participation.
It’s true that they have Pride in Tel Aviv and not in Riyadh but it doesn’t mean that Muslim majority states necessarily want to unite.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Excellent response. Why are people down voting this? The ignorance of some people knows no bounds.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago

Er, the reason it’s being downvoted is because it’s so profoundly ignorant of the freely available facts.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

‘Turkey is officially secular (like France)’. No one could possibly call Erdogan secular and no, Turkey does not implement laïcité in any way – quite the opposite. Syria is quite definitely a a dynastic theocracy and to call Qatar, Dubai and the UAE ‘monarchies of a pretty secular hue’ is just wilfully blind. Each one of them is highly welcoming to visitors with money providing they stick to their profoundly non-secular rules.

George Venning
George Venning
6 months ago
Reply to  Coralie Palmer

Turkey is constitutionally secular. That is part of the reason why Erdogan’s embrace of religious elements within the country has caused such friction. If not for the constitutional protections, that friction would not exist. In a similar way, the US makes explicit separation between church and state but that doesn’t mean that the Christians have no influence. Look at Nixon’s embrace of Evangelicalism, look at Carter, look at the turmoil over abortion or, indeed, the odd alliance between often deeply antisemitic evangelicals and Zionist jews.
Ireland, for that matter, has never been a theocracy either, despite the baleful influence of the Catholic church.

Religions are powerful interests and they can be influential even in non theocratic states, just like any other powerful interest – oil, the army, tech.

A theocracy is a specific thing – government by a religious figure or body. Iran is a theocracy because the Ayatollah is supreme over the president. Turkey is not that. Syria is not that. Quatar, Dubai and the UAE are not that. Egypt most definitely is not that. Although you could certainly make a case for Saudi Arabia.

Israel is not a theocracy either. It is, nonetheless, very unusual inasmuch as its secular, democratic government is determined to maintain its Jewish character irrespective of demography.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago

If Israel has Western civic values then I’m moving to China. Israel is a country where any Israeli civilian or military personnel can shoot any Palestinian, at anytime and anywhere, and not be held accountable or face retribution. They can also round up 1000s of people and put them in prison camps, for as long as they like, without charge. Those aren’t Western civic values I recognise.

Kathleen Burnett
Kathleen Burnett
6 months ago

On a close reading of what I said, you might notice the word ‘attempt’. Would you at least accept that tolerance of LGBT rights is a decent benchmark of a civilised country.

George Venning
George Venning
6 months ago

I don’t want to put words in TT’s mouth but I think he’d point out that, nice as it is for civilised states to grant LGBT rights, it is also an important barometer of “civilisation” that they don’t systematically oppress other, much larger populations for the specific purpose of maintaining the religious character of the state.
Some of us don’t think that modern states should have established ethnic or religious characters at all.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

‘Some of us don’t think that modern states should have established ethnic or religious characters at all.’ Well that buggers the Hamas raison d’etre right up then doesn’t it?

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago

Off you go old chap & bon voyage

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
7 months ago

Yet more carefully calibrated use of air power could have reframed the international debate away from the current binary between a total ceasefire and total military victory, affording Israel more space to conduct its campaign towards a successful conclusion.”
This is nonsense. Israel’s only option is to go in hard and finish the job as quickly as possible. It’s time, not raw numbers of casualties, that is Israel’s enemy in the contest of world opinion.
Not that this matters, as Israel’s very existence is at stake and the Israelis will do whatever they feel they need to in order to prevail, whatever the rest of the world thinks or does.

Josef O
Josef O
7 months ago

The writer of this article has no idea what it means to fight in Gaza. The bulk of the Israeli army is composed of reservists. In this case a fallen soldier brings automatically a widow and orphaned children. Does the writer realize in what state of mind these people are risking their lives ?
In the last two days I searched thoroughly in the press serious evidence about two Catholic women “killed” by a sniper in Gaza. Could not find any. So maybe the writer jumps to conclusions too fast ?

Last edited 7 months ago by Josef O
George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago
Reply to  Josef O
Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Are we sure it was an IDF sniper? Hamas doesn’t much like Christians and this is certainly good for their PR operation.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago

Neither does Israel

Samantha Stevens
Samantha Stevens
7 months ago

Israel has no issue with Christians.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago

Do you really think so
https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2023/4/9/under-netanyahu-violence-against-christians-is-being-normalised
‘Death to Christians’: Violence steps up under new Israeli gov’t
https://www.persecution.org/2023/08/01/jerusalems-christian-community-faces-rising-persecution-incidents/
Jerusalem’s Christian Community Faces Rising Persecution Incidents

Josef O
Josef O
7 months ago

Man are you biased, can you please tell the readers here what happened to the once flourishing Christian population of Rammallah since the PLO took over ?
In case you do not know in the ’50s the Christian population was 90 % of the city.Today it is about 10%, many emigrated to San Francisco. The town now is almost entirely Islamic.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Josef O

Well that was a stupid point.
Christians my be being persecuted in Israel but it is far worse in Rammallah

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago

I honestly do not think it is stupid to point out that the PLO can be viciously anti-Christian. It’s just a recorded fact of the history of Ramallah. Facts are just facts.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago
Reply to  Coralie Palmer

Well the PLO and similar are Muslim dominated so it goes without saying that the persecute Christians.
We are supposed to be allies of Israel yet the still persecute Christians. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago

They don’t want to believe these facts.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago

Congrats, you’ve just broken the irony meter. A little self-reflection might not go amiss.

Samantha Stevens
Samantha Stevens
6 months ago

Yes, I really think so.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago

The original report came from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem which is hardly known to be affiliated with Hamas.
Layla Moran (a LibDem MP with christian Palestinian family members in the church) has said that the IDF was in control of the building opposite with snipers at the windows.
Calling this a false flag without a shred of evidence, is a bit of a reach

Josef O
Josef O
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Oh the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, really ? Traditionally strongly biased towards Israel. Come on, man…

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Josef O

I know
All those claims about a holocaust

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago
Reply to  Josef O

I’m sorry, I’m not sure whether you’re being sarcastic. Are you saying that the patriarchate hates Israel enough to make a false claim that IDF snipers killed Christians sheltering within the precincts of one of its churches? Or are you mocking that view?

Josef O
Josef O
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

They were simply misled.

Josef O
Josef O
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Yes I did notice this, but there was no follow up in serious newspapers. including Italian press. Daily Telegraph showed it for a couple of hours and deleted it. No mention on Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Corriere della Sera and I can go on for a while.
I am afraid Church Times (Pope included) caught a red herring. They fell prey to fake news, of which Hamas are masters. Pas trop de zèlle !

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago
Reply to  Josef O

It’s in the guardian. Haven’t checked the others

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

They don’t want to see it or believe it. Blinded by zealotry.

Thomas Templeton
Thomas Templeton
7 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

They don’t want to find it. It’s been on every news bulletin and even the pope condemned it as terrorism.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
7 months ago

This reads as if the Israelis have said there are 25000 dead. They haven’t. As the Al Shifa incident illustrates, it’s probably prudent to divide any figures provided by Hamas by 100.

Aidan Twomey
Aidan Twomey
7 months ago

Do the Western nations really matter here? Does it matter if the UK is squeamish about the war? What helped Israel in the region was the sense of strength, economic and military, that made its neighbours want to reach an accommodation through the Abraham accords. What Israel really needs is to reach acceptance with Saudi, and for that they need to restore their image of strength. As terrible as it is, maybe the question should be have Isreal killed enough civilians to win the war?

Charlie Dibsdale
Charlie Dibsdale
7 months ago

How sure are we about these figures – are they supplied by Hamas or a Hamas-influenced source? The number may be inflated.

Mike Cook
Mike Cook
7 months ago

There is no “May” about it, and more importantly, The so called Hamas Health Department has never given the number of combatants killed, that in itself is enough to deny faith to their figures.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago

Protestors were marching in the street in cities across the world even before it invaded Gaza. Whatever sympathy if had before the invasion was paper thin. It doesn’t matter what Israel does, it will be he oppressor.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
7 months ago

This is a good article and a cogent critique of Israeli policy. However, there is no reason for Israel to accept higher military casualties in order to spare civilians and at the possible risk of using guided munitions that are needed to deal with Hezbollah. Why should they sacrifice one more Jewish life for the sake of a thousand Jew-hating Arabs?

The idea of Israel needing to maintain “world sympathy” is naive. The very origin of the problem lies in the notion that world opinion carries moral force. It doesn’t. It is just a common denominator that combines the shallow well-meaning anxiety of young liberal Western women, the odious Jesuitical, Marxian logic chopping of intellectuals (Mersheimer, Finkelstein, Chomsky), and the straight-up hatred of the Jews by the world’s underachieving, embittered, conspiratorial, Muslim population.

The separation of Hamas from the Palestinian locals is not possible. They are practically woven in to it and, in any case, the ethos and the outlook and the Jew hatred in Gaza go far beyond active Hamas personnel.

The solution is to expel the population of Gaza and realise the potential of the region as a future agricultural, tourist Riviera.

Israel’s doctrine since 1947 has been to annex the land of those who attack it. This has served two purposes. It has created buffer zones with hostile countries and met the need for additional land for Jewish settlement.

The Palestinian people and their spurious hereditary refugee status (unique in the history of the world and surely a parody of the Jewish experience since antiquity) are the creation of the UN and the so-called international community. They serve as an anchor tied to the ankle of the Jewish state since its beginning and thrown into a sea of regional Muslim and Western bien pensant Jew hatred.

Israel needs to fight this war to the finish, with no pity, and giving no quarter. The population of Gaza should be expelled and taken in by volunteer nations, including Ireland, whose left-wing elites — that is to say their elites — seem to think they are of a like mind.

Perhaps volunteer Palestinian supporters around Europe can take Gazans into their homes just like many people did with Ukrainians.

We have to stop being squeamish in the West about defending our civilisation against Islamist nihilism. Killing such people and those who enable them should not be seen as a regrettable necessity — the apologetic pragmatic forms of words used by Israel’s supporters in the face of the left-wing Islamist identitarian, emotional invective — the distillation of the outlook of an hysterical teenage girl if ever there was one.

Rather we should weave into our identity that this is a defence of our civilisation and a noble undertaking.

Let it be the thing that makes a young man worthy not only of respect from his community, but of the love of a woman. We are not supporting Israel. Israel is supporting us.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
6 months ago

Well said, well said, bravo! The squeamish ‘armchair analysts’ have never fought a war, but know exactly how to lose one on your behalf, if you let them.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago

Your numbers are incorrect. Israel has the lowest ratio of civilian vs terrorist deaths of all counties. Your problems are that you accept the numbers hamas gives out and that you agree that these are civilians. They are not. At least half are terrorists so your entire premise is incorrect.

Morry Rotenberg
Morry Rotenberg
7 months ago

“The killing this weekend by IDF ground troops of Israeli hostages waving a white flag and the “murder” by Israeli snipers of two Catholic women in a church compound…”
The murder of two Catholic women? Another Hamas propaganda victory by lying and ignorant journalists.

Bernard Brothman
Bernard Brothman
7 months ago

If you knock a wasps net out of a tree, do not you not expect to get stung, especially without protective clothing?
I think Hamas got some of what it wanted; a fierce Israeli response. I’m sure some of you have seen the Hamas videos of what they did to their Israeli captives and other documentation from Israel on the tortured, raped, mutilated, murdered and kidnapped civilians including little kids. How did we expect Israel to retaliate? Hamas put its armed infrastructure underground and under civilian buildings including mosques, hospitals, schools and apartment buildings. This make these structures fair game and residents who have not evacuated collateral damage. Whose fault it that?
The author does not ask how Hamas prepared its civilians for the war with Israel. The Israeli hostages are protected better than the average Gazan because Hamas sees the hostages as more valuable. Notice we don’t hear about Gazans sheltering in the tunnels, and Hamas has built some large and well constructed tunnels.
Expect more death. How many? Well, you have to determine how much to believe the Gazan and Hamas controlled health ministry.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
7 months ago

Hamas did what they did to provoke the reaction they’ve got with the absolute intention of weakening international support for Israel. A strategy that is clearly working.

Israel could have sealed off Gaza making the return of electricity, food and energy dependent on the return of hostages, thereby provoking a lengthy stand off with a mounting humanitarian crisis entirely within Hamas’s gift to stop.

Israel gets huge international kudos for restraint, the focus stays on the hostages and the atrocities of 7/10, diplomatic pressure on the Hamas leadership is intense, Arab states (who really don’t like Hamas) can stay relatively neutral. The legendary capabilities of Mossad take out Hamas leadership wherever it may be with little international fuss.

Not sure if any of that would have worked, it’s simply to point out there were other options. The one taken is looking like a bad mistake. Israel is incredibly self sufficient but does need allies.

G M
G M
7 months ago

Casualty figures come from Hamas or Hamas-controlled groups.

Hamas is a terrorist organization.

Do not believe terrorist organizations.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
7 months ago

What western media fails to understand is that this is not simply a military campaign to destroy Hamas. As the author points out, this could be accomplished with a much lower death toll, but this is not simply a military campaign with military objectives. It is also a punishment delivered to all Palestinians for allowing Hamas to exist, for electing them to power, and for failing to reject terrorism as a means to achieve political ends. The Palestinians have been making illegal terrorist attacks against civilian targets for decades, and Israel has never responded in kind, until now.

This is Israel responding in kind to what Hamas did on October 7th specifically and what Hamas, Hezbollah, the PLO, and other organizations have been doing for decades. It is not a fair fight. It is not meant to be. It is meant to deliver a clear and unmistakable message. There will never be a ‘river to the sea’ Palestine. Hamas cannot deliver on that promise. Iran cannot deliver on that promise. Continuing to kill Israelis for that cause will result in many, many more Palestinian deaths, because of the imbalance in power. This says to the Palestinians that they are powerless to stop Israel, and despite the carnage, none of the Arab friends who gave Hamas those missiles and guns took any military action, or any action besides angry words of disapproval to end the situation. Israel wants the Palestinians to understand that they are now at the mercy of Israel. Even if the international community disapproves, they aren’t going to actually do anything, because they have other conflicts of their own that matter more to them than the lives of a long since conquered people who can’t accept that they’ve lost.

Last edited 7 months ago by Steve Jolly
David Pogge
David Pogge
6 months ago

There are a few key points that should be kept in mind when discussing the casualties in Gaza. First, how do we know how many civilian deaths have occurred in Gaza? Because Hamas is an irregular army its ‘soldiers’ do not wear uniforms, so telling the civilians from the terrorists is not a simple matter. More importantly, those numbers come from Hamas and its sympathizers. They have every reason to exaggerate these figures and no incentive to be accurate.
Regardless what the real number might be: So what? The goal in war is to win, not to keep the number of casualties below a specified threshold so that it looks good in the press. If you don’t want your civilians to die, then don’t start a war you cannot win and don’t prevent those who do not support you from leaving.
It remains axiomatic that you win a war when the other side capitulates. There is no other criterion by which victory can be determined. The issue is not how many have died, but when will Hamas and its supporters finally give in. The dying, on both sides, will stop when Hamas surrenders. To stop before that goal is achieved makes the entire effort an immoral squandering of human lives – on both sides.

Another Username
Another Username
7 months ago

According to Israel, they have dropped 29,000 bombs. If we take Hamas’ casualty figures of 25,000, that is less than one causalty per bomb.

Last edited 7 months ago by Another Username
Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
7 months ago

There’s a lot of direct reporting of unverified figures for which the only source is Hamas terrorists. Very disappointing, shoddy journalistic standards.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago

What about the number of Jewish civilians that Palestinian terrorists killed, or don’t Jewish lives matter?

j watson
j watson
7 months ago

The rights and wrongs, whether the number of casualties reported/claimed correct or not, all in many regards don’t make much difference. The issue is the overall ‘impression’ created, the ‘narratives’ these may ‘fuel’, and thus whether in due course the cost/benefit defendable. It’s probably too early to say, but without a clear end-game the Israeli Govt risks a tactical victory but strategic defeat. When coupled with statements such as the UK Ambassador saying the 2 State solution never going to happen it will weaken the Israeli Govt international position. They may not care and perhaps cannot afford to, but at some point brutalisation has to stop or in infects everyone for years and sows the seeds for future horror.
The killing of it’s own hostages, which it’s not denied, suggestive it’s troops are trigger happy. That’ll translate to not hesitating much to shoot a Palestinian whether clear a fighter or not. Having served myself even well trained young soldiers inevitably in such situations, esp if they’ve lost comrades, shoot first and ask questions later.

Last edited 7 months ago by j watson
Juan Manuel Pérez Porrúa
Juan Manuel Pérez Porrúa
7 months ago

I am afraid that in this, the Israelis and their supporters abroad have made the mistake of excessive moralizing about the contrast between the Palestinians’ and the Israelis’ respective attitudes and ways of conducting wars. Moralizing done in an (failed, like so many of Israel’s international public relations efforts) attempt to take a moral high ground when, perhaps, such civilian casualties are indeed inevitable (if tragic), given Israel’s objectives and the situation in Gaza. And now they look like hypocrites, not because of the civilian casualties as such, but because they made such a big deal about civilian casualties in the first place. This kind of moralizing (and the inevitable disillusion that must always follow) has become, sadly, all too typical an element in Western diplomacy at least since the late sixties, and most certainly under James E. Carter and Ronald Reagan, under the pernicious and misguided influence of foreign policy advisors intellectuals, not just on the issue of civilian casualties, but also on other topics such as “democracy and freedom”, “autocracy”, “human rights”, “moral clarity”, among many others. And this influence also contaminates other aspects of policy, such as commercial negotiations, ever since the infamous and now thankfully abolished Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which the late Henry A. Kissinger unsuccessfully fought against.

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
7 months ago

The poles were reversed on October 8.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
7 months ago

It’s been a little like the old potlach practised in the Americas. One tribe would destroy a village so the rival tribe would destroy two. French sociologists and philosophers referred to this as the gift-exchange (Mauss and Bataille).
Derrida wrote two books on it, the first claiming the gift exchange gives a ‘different time’ to that of commodity exchange in a market economy – the time of history? Then he got graver and, perhaps more appropriately here, wrote about the gift of death.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

Do please send me references evidencing the ‘the old potlach practised in the Americas. One tribe would destroy a village so the rival tribe would destroy two.’ News to me, and radically different from the widely-understood practice of potlach as gift-exchange, with which I’m familiar through my visits to Native American friends over 30 years. 

Last edited 6 months ago by Coralie Palmer
Christopher Darlington
Christopher Darlington
7 months ago

Is the earth round? The blood thirst in the comments here is astonishing. I wonder how many consider themselves Christians. Glad I don’t.

Last edited 7 months ago by Christopher Darlington
Bruce Williamson
Bruce Williamson
7 months ago

Let’s eradicate religion …

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago

To be fair the good Lord does kill quite a few in the Old Testament so perhaps that’s what they’re basing their faith on

Bernard Davis
Bernard Davis
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The Old Testament is by definition not Christian. It is suffused with blood lust and barbarism of the kind we see Israel perpetrating today. For a lot of so-called Christians it is as if Our Redeemer had never been born at all.

Bruce Williamson
Bruce Williamson
7 months ago

Did I miss hamarse surrendering …

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago

Hamarse. Brilliant. Going to pinch that if it’s ok with you (arf arf)

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
7 months ago

X

Last edited 7 months ago by Paul MacDonnell
Howard S.
Howard S.
3 months ago

As the saying goes, One can never be too rich, too thin, or kill too many of the enemy to win a war. Dresden, Cologne, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the unnamed villages in Eastern Germany where the Red Army raped and murdered hundreds of women and children on their way to Berlin, the Soviet eradications of scores of villages in Afghanistan to clear roads for military vehicles, massacres of Christians in Nigeria and Egypt down to the present day. War is not nice.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
3 months ago

If Aris claims to be a journalist worth his salt, perhaps he should dig deep into the real number of Palestinian casualties and their distribution between civilians and Hamas fighters. Blindly accepting on faith the numbers coming out of the Hamas Ministry of Health (which appear to be totally unbelievable to anybody with any street smarts) is like believing Baghdad Bob during the US led invasion of Iraq. If Aris recalls, Baghdad Bob was claiming that the Iraqis were defeating the US led forces when the US was at the very gates of Baghdad! But of course, Aris is all in to put the Israelis and the IDF in a bad light, when they have taken considerably more care to avoid civilian casualties than the US and UK did during the battles of Fallujah and Mosul. Perhaps time for Aris to take up a new occupation or do his job properly rather than simply repeat nonsense propaganda because that happens to be the narrative du jour.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
3 months ago

‘When Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October, the scale and brutality of its assault won the Jewish state one of the most powerful, if intangible, weapons in any country’s arsenal: international sympathy. For the first time in many decades, Israel could plausibly be viewed as a victim, and the international community broadly accepted both Israel’s moral right and political compulsion to extirpate Hamas from Gaza.’
This is rubbish. Israeli corpses were still warm, when the usual suspects claimed that Jews were getting what they deserved.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
7 months ago

I see this as a friendship issue.
To criticise Israel in this respect is not to justify what Hamas did or to question Israel’s basic right to defend itself in any way.
It is to be a true friend. True friendship means sometimes saying stuff which your friend doesn’t want to hear right now. And frankly, why would you take the risk of the aggro for people you aren’t that bothered about?
Just as you’d only really say to a true friend who means a lot to you “I love you, I understand you’re hurting – but don’t be a d*ck” when they are going too far, being a friend to Israel means telling it the brutal truth and that it what the US, the UK and Germany are doing.

Avro Lanc
Avro Lanc
7 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

If someone wanted to murder my friend, his wife, his kids and his pet dog I would support him fighting back – at any cost if it meant his survival… Some friend you are.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago
Reply to  Avro Lanc

Even if someone did want to murder your friend and his family, I don’t think that you would be justified in supporting that friend even as he set about murdering the entire family of the person who wanted to hurt him.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

You know, beyond the world of one’s armchair, there really are some ‘us or them’ situations. Atrocious but true. I’ve never been in one and I’m betting neither have you.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
7 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Unfortunately, the UK record with Israel has been poor to the say the least and nothing to be proud about. And as for the current US administration it is simply weak at the knees and mired in upcoming presidential politics and the need for the democrats to secure the large muslim vote in places such as Michigan and Minnesota and to pander to ani-semites.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Why does Britain have any reason to support Israel? Jewish terrorists murdered Britons in order to set up the state (and were rewarded with state funerals) and they armed the Argentinians during the Falklands. It’s also not as if Britain has a significant number of Jewish citizens so what links do we have with that regime?

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

You seem to have a real bee in your bonnet about Israel, far more so that an openly terrorist organisation like Hamas, despite its links with the international crisis of Islamist terrorism on three continents. Mystifying.

Kevin Dee
Kevin Dee
7 months ago

I’m fairly supportive of Israel needing to destroy Hamas but shooting your own hostages who were waiving white flags and then two women in a church is a pretty good indicator of how they are approaching this conflict. Isolated incidents are understandable but a pattern is emerging and its hard to defend.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
7 months ago
Reply to  Kevin Dee

As one person noted above, he could find absolutely no evidence for the shooting of the two women in the church. As for the shooting of the hostages that is a tragedy. But tragedies happen on the battlefield in the fog of war. Especially under the current circumstances. Just go back to the recent Iraq war and look up how many US troops were killed in friendly fire incidents by their own side.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss
Kevin Dee
Kevin Dee
7 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

As George V has pointed out below, their definitely is evidence, you might just choose not to believe it though I find it pretty credible. I understand the fog of war argument but you can mix the anecdotal evidence with a ginormous number of civilian deaths and start to get a picture of what’s going on.

D Walsh
D Walsh
7 months ago

The vast majority of unherd readers seem to be totally delusional about Israel and their actions

Hamas really are terrible, but clearly so are Israel. Israel are just better at killing and can use the media to brainwash Euros and Yanks into supporting the murder of civilians

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
7 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

That brainwashing is working so well that American campuses are pro-Hamas, not just pro-Palestine; in Australia, there were chants of ‘gas the Jews,’ England is practically taken over, and here you are pleading the Muslims’ case.
Have the Israelis gone too far? We could debate that, but ‘too far’ seems to be the only language many Muslims understand.

D Walsh
D Walsh
7 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I’m NOT pleading the muslims case, I refuse to support any side, And I don’t want the refugees that Israel is planning to send to Europe

Israel want you the solve their problem, and you’re so brainwashed you refuse to see it

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
7 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Where have I suggested a desire to solve Israel’s problem? I don’t want us further destroying Ukraine, either. But, sure; brainwashed.

D Walsh
D Walsh
7 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

The fact that young Europeans support Palestine proves my point, Muslims in Europe will always back other muslims, so of course young muslims support Palestine/Hamas, but what about young white Europeans, why do they not support Israel ? it seems obvious to me, they haven’t spent as long consuming Jewish media that you have

Muslim support for Palestine makes sense. Unless you’re Jewish, your support for Israel is foolish, and its NEVER reciprocated

Last edited 7 months ago by D Walsh
Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Christ alive. So anyone who supports Israel has been brainwashed by ‘Jewish media’? Welcome to the new anti-semitism, same as the old anti-semitism. Grotesque watching this slime re-emerge in the 21st century. Camus, thou shouldst be here at this hour.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Er, I think it’s pretty clear that Israel are determined to solve it themselves, which is presumably what gets your goat.

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
7 months ago

Israel has failed its own people , the Palestinians and the larger world.
Israel is an admirable country with admirable people who turned a dry, infertile area into their home, a land of plenty. . Here amongst unfriendly neighbours, it reached out & gained peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan & UAE & Bahrain . It has top military technology to safe guard itself and wage war when threatened. So with so many attributes, what went wrong? Primarily, It failed to respect & earn respect of the Palestinians, it occupied land relentlessly and it did so without securing the people of the kibbutz. It failed on both military intelligence & and softer intelligence of cultural sensitivity towards its Palestinian citizens & neighbours. It then got hit on Oct 7 by a disgruntled peoples turned terrorists and has now taken the approach of a reactive mad killing machine. It doesn’t matter what the consequences are or how many casualties it takes , IDF are using this situation to take naked revenge in the most crude manner. Hamas can never be defeated/ destroyed like this, Where is the due dilligence? Where are the secret operatives infiltrating Hamas and damaging it from within? What happened to intelligence gathering within Hamas?
Im not sure the Israelis are truly behind this blood thirsty strategy . It is more likely Netanyahu’s attempt at avoiding embarrassment for his failings, & hoping to prolong his stay in power despite those failings. In the first place, he has failed to concentrate on protecting & saving his own people, and by continuing indiscriminate killing of helpless Palestinians he is showing that his focus is on serving those few who have his blood lust, for surely once the war ends, Israel may turn on him.

B M
B M
7 months ago

When this ph