-By Warner Todd Huston
The last decade or so we’ve assigned a euphemism to the deaths of civilians in military operations; we’ve called it “collateral damage.” The fact is, though, that deaths of bystanders — purportedly innocent — are almost unavoidable in war operations. After all, war usually entails the indiscriminate firing of automatic weapons or the dropping of large bombs and this simply cannot be done in a surgical manner. But one nation has succeeded in a near total elimination of the deaths of innocents. That country is Israel.
Commendably, Israel has gone far out of its way to minimize civilian causalities over the last five years or so. Does this bust well-worn Palestinian propaganda? It should. In general the facts make the lie to nearly everything the Palestinians and their supporters say, but this particular point demolishes the propaganda.
Propagandists against Israel love to throw around claims that Israel is a violent, war-like nation and that she loves to invade her neighbors. But, once again, facts devastate this blather. In its short life Israel has been engaged in many military actions, to be sure, but few of them began with the Israelis as the aggressors. Most of Israel’s actions have been defensive in nature. The idea of defense as opposed to conquest is so inculcated in Israel that they’ve even put the word “defense” in the name of their military forces. Hence we have the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
In 2006 after the Israeli disengagement in Gaza, the number of rockets fired into Israel by Muslims in Palestine increased a shocking 436 percent. Israel allowed this outrage to continue for a long time before finally replying and they did this for fear of causalities of non-combatant Palestinians.
Even though a shaky respite was brokered between Israel and the murderous terrorists in the Strip, that small break ended in 2008. Naturally, immediately upon the expiration of that agreement, Hamas and other Muslim terrorists resumed in earnest their terror attacks on Israel.
As a result, Israel launched a defensive effort named Operation Cast Lead in 2008 to stop these illicit attacks. One of its important operational goals was to minimize civilian causalities and the success of that goal has been amazing. So amazing that this military action puts Israel first among nations in safeguarding innocent civilians while still carrying on active military strikes.
A recent speech by Colonel Richard Kemp, the former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan as delivered in Te Aviv, relays some amazing statistics that busts the anti-Israel propaganda wide open.
Colonel Kemp has stated many times that Israel has “done more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone” than any other army in history. Even as he notes that Hamas and these other Muslim terror groups use civilians as cover — and sometimes willing participants — in terror attacks on Israel, Kemp notes that the IDF has made notable headway into limiting unnecessary carnage.
Kemp insists that the proof of this can be seen in reports by none other than the United Nations, an organization nearly as anti-Semitic as Israel’s enemies in the Gaza Strip. It is impossible to accuse the UN of being pro-Israel (or pro-US, for that matter).
The UN estimates that there has been an average three-to one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide. Three civilians for every combatant killed.
That is the estimated ratio in Afghanistan: three to one.
In Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to be four-to-one. Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratios were very much higher in Chechnya and Serbia.
In Gaza, it was less than one-to-one.
“This extremely low rate of civilian casualties flatly contradicts many of Goldstone’s original allegations, and the bleating insistence of various human rights groups about Israel’s alleged crimes against humanity,” Kemp said in the speech.
Israel should be commended for this success as noted by Colonel Kemp. Yet these are the sort of facts that too many ignore as they gin up their rhetoric against the Jews. But facts do not lie. It’s time more people heard them.