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Fri Mar 13, 2015, 12:58 PM

AP: 75%-90% of Deaths from Israel's "Precision" Air Strikes Last Summer were Civilians

Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 05:37 AM PDT
AP: 75%-90% of Deaths from Israel's "Precision" Air Strikes Last Summer were Civilians
by Assaf

In my last diary a couple of weeks ago, I promised to be more "in your face", writing more regularly about Gaza rather than wait for the next round of mayhem or warfare. Since then I've been a bit under the weather. Still, it's important to me to put in a Gaza diary before the much-hyped Israeli election completely takes over (I will likely write about it as well). It will be short.

I'm following up on the AP investigative report briefly mentioned last diary. AP looked into Palestinian deaths from air bombings during the summer 2014 war. What they found is sobering (emphases mine).

Manar Majed al-Batsh, 13 years old, was killed on Sunday, July 12, 2014 in Shujaiyya. She was killed along with 17 other members of the al-Batsh family, by an Israeli warplane that hit their house, without prior warning.

The youngest to die was a 4-day-old girl, the oldest a 92-year-old man.

They were among at least 844 Palestinians killed as a result of airstrikes on homes during Israel's summer war with the Islamic militant group, Hamas.

Under the rules of war, homes are considered protected civilian sites unless used for military purposes. Israel says it attacked only legitimate targets, alleging militants used the houses to hide weapons, fighters and command centers. Palestinians say Israel's warplanes often struck without regard for civilians.

The Associated Press examined 247 airstrikes on homes, interviewing witnesses, visiting attack sites and compiling a detailed casualty count. The review found that 508 of the dead — just over 60 percent — were children, women and older men, all presumed to be civilians. Hamas says it did not use women as fighters in the war, and an Israel-based research group tracking militants among the dead said it has no evidence women participated in combat.

The AP count also showed that:

— Children younger than 16 made up one-third of the total: 280 killed, including 19 babies and 108 preschoolers between the ages of 1 and 5.

— In 83 strikes, three or more members of one family died.

— Among those killed were 96 confirmed or suspected militants — or just over 11 percent of the total — though the actual number could be higher since armed groups have not released detailed casualty lists.

The remainder of the 240 dead were males between the ages of 16 and 59 whose names did not appear in connection with militant groups on searches of websites or on street posters honoring fighters.

The review was the most painstaking attempt to date to determine who was killed in strikes on homes in the Gaza war even as Israel's army and Gaza militants have refused to release information about targets and casualties. The count tracked all known airstrikes, but not all strikes had witnesses and damage at sites inspected by the AP wasn't always conclusive.

Making the conservative assumption that in the tight-knit, everybody-knows-everybody Gaza Strip at least half of males aged 16-59 who were not mentioned anywhere as militant-related, were indeed civilians, this means 75%-90% of the air-bombing deaths were civilians. And this is the more precise part of Israel's bombing campaign. The civilian damage from the far less precise ground artillery, used heavily once the ground assault started, was likely worse.

All around the world, armies prefer not to be scrutinized after killing civilians. The governments who sent them will do everything to perpetuate the fog of war, and throw spins of doubt and ridicule at reports like this, until the world forgets.

As my previous post stated, sadly, seems like Israel is in a "great" position to once again completely escape accountability for yet another deluge of civilian deaths. Much of the region is mired in far bloodier mayhem; geopolitically the Palestinians are as weak as ever; Israel itself is obsessed with its election campaign, in which - as I wrote there - Gaza is rarely mentioned, and even when it does it's from a militarist perspective; and the Western press (AP's surprisingly honorable effort notwithstanding) is focusing on other topics.

But these people really did die, at least 1500 civilian deaths from this war that were completely needless.

Summer 2014: 3-week-old twins Mustafa and Ibrahim Al-Ghoul of Rafah. Mustafa was killed shortly thereafter by an Israeli airstrike, together with his dad, grandparents, 2 brothers and 3 uncles and aunts.

9 members of the Al-Ghoul family were killed on Sunday August 3, 2014 in an Israeli airstrike on their home in the Yibna neighborhood of Rafah refugee camp, around 6:20 AM. They were targeted by two F-16 missiles.

1. Ismail Al-Ghoul, 60 years old, was the father of Asmaa, Hanadi, Muhammad, and Wael
2. Khadra Al-Ghoul, 62 years old, was Ismail’s wife and the mother of Asmaa, Hanadi, Muhammad, and Wael
3. Asmaa Al-Ghoul, 22 years old
4. Hanadi Al-Ghoul, 28 years old
5. Muhammad Al-Ghoul, 32 years old
6. Wael Al-Ghoul, 35 years old, was the father of Ismail, Malak, Mustafa and Ibrahim
7. Ismail Wael Al-Ghoul, 11 years old
8. Malak Wael Al-Ghoul, 5 years old
9. Mustafa Wael Al-Ghoul, 24 days old

3-week old twins Mustafa and Ibrahim were born during Israel’s offensive on Gaza in Summer 2014. When the twins were born, a family member wrote: “In Gaza, there is always hope and new life. A door of light and happiness in the middle of this war.” They were described as “two tiny angels, harbingers of hope and joy.”

Following their death, extended family member Asmaa Al-Ghoul wrote [link:http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/08/rafah-gaza-war-hospitals-filled-bodies-palestinians.html#|in an essay for Al-Monitor about the picture she snapped that day (above):

“Endings are so strange, as are living moments that suddenly become relegated to the past. We will never see them again, and the pictures that I took of the twins are now so precious, as one of them, Mustafa, was killed, while the other, Ibrahim, remained alive.

I wonder how they could differentiate between them, for they looked so much alike. Who identified them when their father died and their mother lay wounded in intensive care? Who was Mustafa, and who was Ibrahim? It was as if they had merged upon one twin’s death.”

For much of the war, Israeli propaganda was very busy boasting its superb intelligence services and precision bombing technology, and its meticulous warnings to affected civilians ahead of airstrikes. Then, as it became impossible to deny that the vast majority of deaths are civilians, the very same propaganda turned around and whined that Hamas is hiding among the civilians, and is therefore at fault.

Excuse me? This second spin is admission that

1. Israel's intelligence indicating where and when to bomb, and its warning system, were an abject failure.
2. If indeed, the bombing's sole purpose was to take out Hamas military capabilities, then not only was the bombing itself a failure - but Israel's military has zero mechanisms of professional inspection and self-correction in real time. Envision this: the air bombing campaign - using, let us not forget, US-made warplanes and US-made bombs bought with billions of US taxpayer dollars - lasted 50 days, killing mostly civilians while Hamas retained its ability to launch rockets and mortars and carry out other military operations. And the geniuses of the Israeli military never caught onto their futility and tried to correct it?
3. This of course means that the Israeli propaganda during most of the war, about "precision" and "superb intelligence" was all lies.

Either that, or perhaps avoiding the killing of Palestinian civilians was nowhere near the top of the military's priorities list. Still means the intelligence operations were largely a sham, but at least a sham consistent with the war's actual directives, namely to perpetrate some perverse version of "Shock and Awe".

Given the rhetoric and mindset that accompanied this war's prosecution, unless your head is still buried in the sand this conclusion should come and no surprise.

You can see personal stories of many of the war's dead, on HumanizePalestine, where the pictures and text above are taken from.


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Reply AP: 75%-90% of Deaths from Israel's "Precision" Air Strikes Last Summer were Civilians (Original post)
FourScore Mar 2015 OP
GoneFishin Mar 2015 #1
4now Mar 2015 #2
bvar22 Mar 2015 #3
gratuitous Mar 2015 #4

Response to FourScore (Original post)

Fri Mar 13, 2015, 02:08 PM

1. It is about stealing land and making life miserable for those occupying it. Nothing more.

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Fri Mar 13, 2015, 03:30 PM

2. Israel murdered over 400 innocent Palestinian children last summer.

It only took 2 months for the IDF to murder over 400 innocent children last summer.

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Fri Mar 13, 2015, 07:06 PM

3. If ANY country should know better than walling people in,

taking their land,
and killing their children,
you would think it would be Israel.

Do we become what we hate?

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Fri Mar 13, 2015, 07:34 PM

4. A little something sent to me by my friends at CPT

Monday morning, girls going to their school in the West Bank, and a group of soldiers waits until they're all inside, then they launch a "training exercise" with soldiers barging through the school:


The utter senselessness of this little exercise is probably the most galling thing to me: The only thing this is going to accomplish is further alienation, terror and fear among the students. In a few years, one or more of them might just retaliate. At which point, we can all express bewilderment about why there is so much pent-up hostility among the Palestinians, and condemn them as little more than brutes and animals, unfit for inclusion among decent society.

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