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Gaza Body Count

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights documentation showed that from the start of the Great Return March protests on 30 March 2018, by 26 October 2018 at least 222 Palestinians had been killed in the Gaza Strip. Of the total fatalities, 168 were killed at the demonstrations -- including 33 children, one woman, two journalists, three paramedics, and four persons with disability. Another 11,968 persons have been injured, including 2,329 children, 500 women, 128 paramedics, and 132 journalists. Of those injured, 6,819 were hit by live fire, including 1,206 children and 140 women.

These numbers are food for thought. The weekly demonstrations typically attract about 15,000 demonstrators - roughly the number of individuals who have sustained wounds. Possibly nearly all the demonstrators have been wounded at one time or another. Or possibly there is a fresh supply of demonstrators to maintain a constant presence on the front lines. Or probably a mix of both, as most of the wounds seem to have been less than life-threatening.

Students of body counting will note the peculiar ratio between the number killed and the number wounded, a fact that seems to have escaped public attention. Historically, in conventional combat, the number of troops Wounded in Action [WIA] was about three times the number Killed in Action [KIA]. Through various methods such as improved body armor and expedited medical treatment, American forces in Iraq managed to improve the odds so that there was only 1 KIA for every 10 WIA, or there abouts.

But in Gaza, in round numbers, the 200 KIA were accompanied by 7,000 WIA by live fire ammo, and another 5,000 WIA by other means. Taken at face value, this 35:1 ratio is amazing. Surely part of this results from some Palestinian over-reporting of wounds, since it is said that Hamas pays a bonus for those wounded in the demonstrations.

Surely some part of the low body count in Gaza is due the bravery of Palestinian medics, who rapidly evacuate the wounded from the battlefield. Surely another part of the low body count is due to Israeli discrimination and precision in firing at the demonstrators. The Israelis doing the shooting are routinely described as snipers, and reports normally indicate they are aiming at lower extremities [though Al Mezan's documentation indicated a recent trend of snipers shooting protesters in the upper part of the bodies]. As is well known from other massacres, if the Israelis simply directed massed fire at the protesters, thousand would have died on the spot.

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