Israel: Dissecting the numbers behind the rocket attacks

12:00 Nov 17 2012 Israel

Israel: Dissecting the numbers behind the rocket attacks Israel: Dissecting the numbers behind the rocket attacks
In keeping up with its social media focus, IDF 2.0 has been distributing infographics through Facebook, Twitter, and an official blog, encouraging subscribers to share the images. One recent infographic makes the following claims about the number of Israeli casualties from rocket attacks (Screenshot from full report available at Mondoweiss)

A chart comparing IDF claims with the puublic record (Screenshot from full report available at Mondoweiss. See News Source link)

by Phan Nguyen for Mondoweiss

In this brief study, I examine the many numbers cited by the Israeli military relating to Gaza rocket attacks into Israel.

To begin, Israeli spokespeople frequently remind the world that a million Israeli citizens are within range of Gaza rockets, twelve thousand of which have been fired into Israel in the last twelve years, inflicting thousands of injuries and several dead.

However, we are rarely told exactly how many people have been killed by these rocket attacks.

Counting the dead

Below is a list of all the fatalities of rocket and mortar attacks fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel in the entire history of these attacks. Throughout the years of rocket attacks into Israel, a total of 26 people have been killed altogether.

Fatalities from rocket and mortar attacks in Israel from the Gaza Strip
Date of attack Name Age Location Weapon
2004.06.28 Mordechai Yosephov 49 Sderot Qassam
2004.06.28 Afik Ohion Zehavi 4 Sderot Qassam
2004.09.29 Yuval Abebeh 4 Sderot Qassam
2004.09.29 Dorit (Masarat) Benisian 2 Sderot Qassam
2005.01.15 Ayala-Haya Abukasis 17 Sderot Qassam
2005.07.15 Dana Gelkowitz 22 Moshav Nativ Ha‘asara Qassam
2006.03.28 Salam Ziadin* ? Nahal Oz Qassam‡
2006.03.28 Khalid Ziadin* 16 Nahal Oz Qassam‡
2006.11.15 Faina Slutzker 57 Sderot Qassam
2006.11.21 Yaakov Yaakobov 43 Sderot Qassam
2007.05.21 Shirel Friedman 32 Sderot Qassam
2007.05.27 Oshri Oz 36 Sderot Qassam
2008.02.27 Roni Yihye 47 Sderot Qassam
2008.05.09 Jimmy Kedoshim 48 Kibbutz Kfar Aza mortar
2008.05.12 Shuli Katz 70 Moshav Yesha Qassam
2008.06.05 Amnon Rosenberg 51 Kibbutz Nir-Oz mortar
2008.12.27 Beber Vaknin 58 Netivot Qassam
2008.12.29 Lutfi Nasraladin*† 38 IDF base near Nahal Oz mortar
2008.12.29 Irit Sheetrit 39 Ashdod Grad
2008.12.29 Hani al Mahdi* 27 Ashkelon Grad
2010.03.18 Manee Singueanphon* 30 Moshav Nativ Ha‘asara Qassam
2011.08.20 Yossi Shushan 38 Be’er sheva Grad
2011.10.29 Moshe Ami 56 Ashkelon Grad
2012.11.15 Yitzchak Amsalem 24 Kiryat Malachi rocket
2012.11.15 Mira Sharf 25 Kiryat Malachi rocket
2012.11.15 Aharon Smadja 49 Kiryat Malachi rocket
Total fatalities in the history of rocket and mortar attacks
from Gaza into Israel: 26
Operation Cast Lead: December 27, 2008–January 18, 2009
Operation Pillar of Cloud: November 14, 2012–

(Refer to the bottom of the page for notes and sources.)

The shaded rows in the table refer to fatalities sustained during Operation Cast Lead (December 27, 2008–January 18, 2009) and Operation Pillar of Cloud (November 14, 2012–).

Note that of the 26 fatalities from rocket and mortar attacks, more than one out of every four deaths occurred during these two operations, which were ostensibly designed to deter rocket attacks.

For the entire duration of the 2008 Hamas–Israel cease-fire—even after Israel had broken the cease-fire on Nov. 4—not a single person was killed by rocket or mortar fire into Israel. Yet approximately two hours after Israel’s commencement of Operation Cast Lead, one person in Israel was struck and killed by shrapnel from a Qassam rocket. Two days later, three more people were killed in Israel from Gaza rocket and mortar attacks.

And for an entire year before Operation Pillar of Cloud, not a single Israeli was killed by rocket or mortar. Yet approximately sixteen hours after Pillar of Cloud commenced, a rocket from Gaza killed three Israelis.

It was during both military operations that Israel endured the highest number of fatalities from Gaza rockets and mortars in the shortest time spans.

The data is too scant to a draw a more definite conclusion (and it is scant because fatalities are so rare), but one can suspect a pattern:

Rocket fatalities are more likely to happen during major Israel “anti-rocket” operations. Note that I say that fatalities are more likely to happen, rather than fatalities increase. Because fatalities are so rare, when they do happen in a burst, they appear more as instigations rather than incidental progressions.

This disputes the clichéd notion that rocket attacks are “designed to maximize civilian casualties.” Indeed, with such a low fatality rate and with the characteristic imprecision of the weapons, they cannot be expected to inflict a fatality most of the time.

At the same time, armed groups in Gaza are capable of increasing the likelihood of fatalities when prompted.

A verrry slow genocide

If we borrow the IDF’s claim that more than 12,000 rockets have been fired into Israel in the last twelve years (which I dispute later), we get a kill rate of less than 0.217%. Thus in order to secure a single kill, we should expect to fire about 500 rockets. However, if the goal is to specifically kill Jews rather than foreign workers and Palestinian laborers, then it gets harder. Only 21 Jews have been killed by this method, bringing the kill rate down to 0.175%.

If this sounds disturbing or even anti-Semitic, note that I am just testing the argument of the current Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, who, during Operation Cast Lead, co-wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal claiming that the Gaza rockets and mortars were “more than a crude attempt to kill and terrorize civilians—they were expressions of a genocidal intent.”

Yet the statistics demonstrate that it is much less than a “crude attempt to kill.” One can imagine easier ways to kill a random person than to manufacture and fire 500+ homemade rockets.

As for genocide, at the going kill rate, it would require 4,477,714,286 rockets and mortars, and 4,477,714 years to kill all the Jews in Israel. This is assuming that Israel’s Jewish population does not increase. And of course we would need to factor in the limited range of the projectiles, which would require Israel’s non-growing Jewish population to all congregate in the western Negev by the year 4479726 CE, give or take a few years.

But by then, all of Israel’s Jewish population will have already been exterminated by the country’s other violent killer, automotive accidents.

It makes more sense, then, to suppose that there are political rationales for the firing of rockets and mortars.


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