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Alternate Mass Death Measures, Gaza Edition
If the 2023 Hamas offensive was "14.2 nine-elevens," how many nine-elevens is the counterattack?
On October 19th of this year HWFO opined on Biden’s choice of words when he addressed the Israeli people to characterize the 2023 Hamas offensive as “Fifteen Nine-Elevens.” We checked his math, figured the true number was closer to 14.2, and then used this new per-capita measure of terrorist killings to rank and graph many other awful things from the past, including the January 6th Protest (0.012 Nine-Elevens), the Oklahoma City Bombing (0.06 Nine-Elevens), and World War Two (one Nine-Eleven every day and a half for six straight years). More on that here:
To perform the thought exercise, we divide the number of civilian casualties by the population of the attacked region, to get a good sense of how likely it was for the particular tragedy to affect you directly. A Nine-Eleven, as defined, was the number of deaths in a tragedy divided by the population of the country at the time, expressed as a “per 100,000” number. A Nine Eleven is 1.05 dead people per 100,000 population.
We showed in the prior article that while the 2023 Hamas attack was a blistering 14.2 Nine-Elevens, the Israel operation in Gaza in 2004 was 3.66 Nine-Elevens, counting only civilian casualties. Now that numbers have begun spilling in for the 2023 Israeli retaliation we can start doing preliminary mathematics on that.
Nine-Elevens in Gaza
Numbers reported by Al-Jazeera are likely to come from Hamas, and Hamas is likely to give us numbers that are inflated in two ways. One - they’ll certainly exaggerate the raw number of people killed to buttress their case. Two - they certainly will not differentiate between military and civilian targets. Why would they? They didn’t do so when they attacked. But Israel doesn’t seem to be counting civilian casualties at all, and I can’t find any third party media organization doing it either, so let’s presume as of November 1st that 8,525 people have been killed in Gaza out of a population of around 2.2 million.
That is 364 Nine-Elevens so far, just through the end of October. The reason it’s so much higher than the Hamas attack on Israel is that Israel is larger, so the deaths in Gaza have more pro-rata impact. Even if Hamas were exaggerating things by a factor of ten, it would still clock in at thirty six Nine-Elevens.
But that might not be fair, because the Israel retaliation has gone on for 24 days so far and the Hamas attack was in one day. On a per-day basis, if the Hamas numbers are accurate then the Israel counterstrike is equivalent to 15.1 Nine-Elevens per day.
That is almost the exact same per-capita kill count as the initial Hamas strike, but 24 of them in a row.
Are the numbers reported by Hamas accurate or inflated? Hard to say. Could civilian casualties in Gaza be avoided by Hamas using less civilians as human shields? Possibly. Is Israel being careful with their counter attack? Probably. As careful as they can be? Possibly. Does Hamas deserve it? Maybe. Do the Palestinians deserve it for electing Hamas? Maybe. These are all questions everyone will argue about forever, and are questions to which I neither have the answer, nor care about the answer. But if we’re going to call Hamas’s attack “Fifteen Nine Elevens,” (actually 14.2) then lets do the same math all around so we can all see how many bodies are getting stacked on both sides of that wall.
Israel’s retaliation seems to be fifteen Nine Elevens per day by published counts.