An argument which is being used against Israel and which is quite nonsensical is that the low Israeli casualty rate from over a thousand Hamas rockets somehow makes the higher Palestinian casualty rate a war crime or otherwise indefensible.

It’s true that the casualty rate is lopsided, but that has nothing to do with breach of law or intent to kill.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others in Gaza fire rockets from civilian areas, and conceal their weapons and leadership in and under civilian buildings.

The only way for Israel to defend itself is to target the source of the rocket fire and to seek out command and control structures located in civilian areas.

Israel goes to extraordinary and unprecedented lengths not to kill civilians. From warnings via text message and telephone, to public announcements and leaflets, to roof tapping (use of inert warheads to shake a building as warning to get out, usually 15 minutes in advance), to calling off airstrikes. If any other military in the history of humankind has gone to such lengths, please tell me.

As in every single military campaign in the history of modern warfare, sometimes mistakes are made. But to deny Israel’s efforts is to deny reality.

Hamas and the others have no such concerns. Their rockets are fired almost exclusively into heavily populated civilian areas, the one exception being targeting of the Dimona nuclear reactor. So when not trying to kill civilians directly, Hamas tries to create a nuclear leak to kill civilians indirectly.

The low Israeli casualty rate is due to the extraordinary efforts of the Israeli government to protect its civilians — including extensive bomb shelters and safe structures on streets. And of course, the Iron Dome system that shoots down rockets heading for populated areas.

So on the one side we have homicidal Hamas maniacs targeting civilians and using civilians as human shields, and on the other side we have Israel trying to avoid killing Palestinian civilians and protecting its Israeli civilians. The result is an imbalance in civilian casualties in Israel’s favor. But that imbalance is not proof of anything other than which side values civilian life.

Israel’s good behavior, however, does not go unpunished. Islamists and leftists accuse the party trying to avoid civilians casualties (Israel) of being the equivalent of Hitler, as they spew their Jew hatred openly around the world.

But it’s not just street mobs who play this perverse game.

Some Western commentators use Israel’s protection of its civilians as evidence that Israel is acting unjustly or even in violation of international law. Here are three examples:

Eli Clifton, The Nation Mag

Clifton repeatedly has used the lopsided casualty ratio to question whether Israel even needs to be defending itself against Hamas rockets:

Even accuses Israel of “carpet bombing,” apparently having zero clue what the term means and what actually is happening:

You know, because rockets (not “missiles”) are not real weapons, at least not when fired by an “impoverished” population:

Max Fisher, Vox.com

Fischer takes the Clifton approach, and elevates it to macro historical level, finding a disproportionate historical casualty rate:

So? Would it be more historically fair if more Israelis were killed?

In his Vox.com post Fisher writes that most of the Palestinian casualties come during times, like now, that Israel fights with Hamas in Gaza. Which, since Israel left Gaza in 2005, has been the result of Hamas firing rockets and kidnapping Gilad Shalit. And the low Israeli death toll, Fisher admits, is from Israel leaving Gaza and building “walls” (actually mostly fences, but no matter).

So Israel disengages, cuts off the suicide bombers, yet is somehow to blame for Hamas and others firing rockets from civilian areas.

Ken Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch is notoriously hostile to Israel, and Roth himself sounded a highly unusual response to the recent kidnapping of there Israel teens.

Roth also has played the numbers game, arguing that the civilian death toll is the result of deliberateness:

And reverses the sequence of events by suggesting that Israel trying to prevent Hamas from getting rockets is a cause of Hamas firing rockets:

Counter-arguments and critiques are dismissed out of hand as “snow” jobs, unlike his apparently absolute truth:

And uses civilian casualties as proof of Israeli war crimes:

Concern for the cause of the problem is an afterthought:

Conclusion

So what is Israel supposed to do in such a situation?

Nothing, and have its civilian population running to bomb shelters multiple times a day, and hope that Iron Dome doesn’t run out of interceptors? Or fail?

Really, all these commentators should explain how Israel is supposed to defend itself against groups committed to its destruction who fire rockets from civilian areas using civilian human shields while firing into Israeli civilian areas.

UPDATE 7-16-2014: It is not even clear that the “civilian” casualty figures coming out of Gaza are accurate. CAMERA reports that an al Jazeera analysis finds that most of the dead are combat-age males. That doesn’t mean they are not “civilians,” but is casts doubt on the numbers from Hamas officials in Gaza and the obviously-anti-Israel U.N. officials in Gaza:

Shown below is a chart of male fatalities in Gaza resulting from hostilities between Hamas and Israel between July 7 and July 14, derived from a list published by Al Jazeera on July 14. Information provided by Qatar-owned Al Jazeera should not be accepted at face value, as the emirate has close ties to the Hamas-led Gazan government, but nevertheless, the information provided in the list shows that as in past hostilities, the fatalities are disproportionately [compared to the overall population] among young males, which corresponds with the characteristics of combatants. Males over 40 years old are also disproportionately represented. Some of the fatalities in those over 40 years of age likely represent senior members of terrorist organization. Media coverage often parrots the line fed by Gazan authorities that “most of the casualties are civilians” despite the well-established propensity of Gazan authorities to exaggerate the proportion of civilian casualties.

We have seen many instanced, for example Jenin, where non-combatant death rates were grossly exaggerated.

Also see Elder of Ziyon, The REAL statistics of those killed in Gaza.