I am sure that most of you reading this have seen a sign on campus with the death tallies for Palestinians and Israelis, represented by symbolic stakes in the ground comparing the two. The statistics are clear: A significantly greater number of Palestinians have been killed relative to Israelis.
Alright, so the numbers tell us a story. Israelis are this and Israelis are that. Something within me finds it hard to believe that a country so devoted to reaching peace with its neighbors would be so murderous.
Have you ever wondered how mortality numbers are computed? I have, and it is what led me to write this article. I am not here to bash on one side or the other, but just to provide another perspective. It is the story that the mortality numbers alone cannot depict. Maybe with this story some people will learn to look beyond the superficiality of the numbers we see on our bike path.
There is substantial evidence proving that the deaths from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are a huge misconception. In many ways, the Palestinian authorities count deaths controversially and inaccurately. Their numbers include suicide bombers, armed Palestinian fighters, terrorist group leaders, terrorists shot in self-defense, bomb makers and their neighbors who were killed by accidental bomb explosions and the Palestinians killed from shooting into the air at their own funerals and protests. Of course, Israel is not innocent, as seen by the many killings on their behalf. Still, Israel is not fully to blame for Palestinian losses.
More controversially, they include the deaths during crossfire between Israeli and Palestinian forces, leading to obvious collateral damage from both sides. The reason for the controversy is that children, mothers and other people not interested in contributing to the conflict become entangled in the war not by choice but by involuntary presence. The Palestinians argue that Israel is responsible for the deaths of the many young Palestinian children in battle. However, when French TV captured a Palestinian child being shot in his father’s arms, there was much debate over the source of the shot. One would find it easy to point the finger at the opposing side, but reporters across Europe came to the conclusion that, based on the angle that it was fired, the shot had to have come from a Palestinian. With such examples, using evidence like youth mortality is questionable considering the highly destructive nature of warfare.
In addition to these questionable observations, Palestinian authorities have been notorious for exaggerating the numbers they feed to the public. For example, following the Battle of Jenin, a terrorist launch site, Palestinians claimed 3,000 of their people were “massacred” by Israelis. They later brought the number down to 500, which may have been an attempt to make their claim more reasonable. After questioning the validity of their statements, the UN secretary-general uncovered the true number: a shocking 52. I think their dishonesty speaks for itself.
After covering one side of the story, you may still wonder why the Israeli death count is so low. Well, this is another topic hidden by the media and waiting to expose itself to reality. The reasons include two critical factors: emergency medical care and excellent security. According to the New York Times, Israeli medical care, specifically faster ambulances and better care in the medical room, is the reason why the mortality rates for Israelis have been lower. Imagine all the Israelis who would have died if not for their superior medical care.
One might wonder, shouldn’t the same care be provided to Palestinians if Israel is as inclusive as they claim? Well, it is. The problem is that the Palestinian Authority rejects Israeli medical care in cases of emergency. And why would they rather have their people die or fall into the hands of inferior Palestinian medical care? According to Palestinian Minister of Health Radwan al-Akhras, it is because “they prefer that [they] don’t know the truth about the number of [Israelis] wounded.” As for security, Israel is prepared in every way imaginable. The Israeli Defense Force has thwarted thousands of Palestinian terrorist attacks, ultimately preventing the death of many Israelis that otherwise would have contributed to the list of those buried six feet under. In addition, Israel has local forms of awareness for potential bombs or attacks through nationwide text messages, sirens and lockdowns — warnings that even benefit the Palestinian population.
There are so many different factors in calculating death tolls that cannot be fully explained with this article’s limited size. More than anything, I want you all to think about facts that are superficially placed in front of you. In any international issue, we Americans only get a glimpse of what a nation wants us to see. Since we are generally unaware of the story behind the numbers, such as the mortalities, we should be informed before we speak or decide on any issue. Instead of reading a sign and using it as the basis for any opinion, make sure you fully understand and don’t just be the media’s strategically planned follower.