Gaza vs. Ukraine: A Tale of Two Wars
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) as of September, 2023 a total of 9,614 civilians died during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to a November 10 Reuter’s wire, more than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the Israeli operation. Most of the dead are non-combatants. This is unsurprising, since in urban warfare up to 90 percent of casualties are civilians. This would seem to apply especially in Gaza where Hamas is inextricably embedded within the population, whom it uses as human shields.
Dire as the reported numbers are, the reality is likely worse. Barbara Leaf, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, told a congressional panel that “it’s very possible that it [casualty rate] is even higher than what’s being reported… We think they’re [Gazan casualties] very high, frankly.”
Given Gaza’s demographics, a large portion of the killed – perhaps up to 40 percent – are children. “We have in a few days in Gaza thousands and thousands of children killed,” observed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently. “Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children. Hundreds of girls and boys are reportedly being killed or injured every day,” he added.
To put things into perspective, the Russian invasion of Ukraine killed some 10,000 civilians in 19 months; Israel’s operation in Gaza appears to have yielded a comparable number in five weeks.
In the Ukrainian war civilians are dying at the rate of about 500 per month. In the Gaza war the rate is up to 20 times higher.
In the first six months of their war, the Russians took considerable care to minimize damage to civilian infrastructure. Their targets were almost exclusively military assets and installations. Wherever possible, they avoided causing damage to electricity, water plants, and communications. Thus, most of the Ukrainian population continued to have access to the basic necessities of life such as water, food, shelter, energy, communication services, hospitals, etc.
Israel makes no pretenses about trying to spare civilian infrastructure. It cut off water, food, electricity, and communications to Gaza at the outset of its
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