Bret Stephens in the WSJ: Where Are The Dead Women?

Today in the Wall Street Journal Bret Stephens writes well as usual. And reminds us of a time when journalists actually did work for a living with some numbers he quotes from back at the start of the current war against Israel. Not that I need tell this audience Israel is not genocidally killing people, but perhaps it will help you all when talking to those who don’t get it.

Israel’s 60-Year Test –

… In May 2002, at the height of the so-called al-Aqsa Intifada, I reviewed Israeli and Palestinian casualty figures, sticking to Palestinian sources for Palestinian numbers and Israeli sources for Israeli ones. Much was then being made in the Western media of the fact that three times as many Palestinians as Israelis had been killed in the conflict – evidence, supposedly, that despite the suicide bombings, lynchings and roadside ambushes perpetrated daily against Israelis, Palestinians were the ones who really were getting it in the neck.

But drilling down into the data, something interesting turned up. At the time, 1,296 Palestinians had been killed by Israelis – of whom a grand total of 37, or 2.8%, were female. By contrast, of the 496 Israelis killed by Palestinians (including 138 soldiers and policemen), there were 126 female fatalities, or 25%.

To be female is a fairly reliable indicator of being a noncombatant. Females are also half the population. If Israel had been guilty of indiscriminate violence against Palestinians, the ratio of male-to-female fatalities would not have been 35-1.

About Brian of London

Brian of London is not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy. Since making aliyah in 2009, Brian has blogged at Israellycool. Brian's interests include electric cars, world peace and an end to world hunger. Besides blogging here, Brian of London now writes at the Times of Israel. Brian of London also hosted Shire Network News


  • Paul-Michael Bauer

    Might the gender numbers be partly skewed due to the relatively high number of females enlisted in the IDF? If an attempt is made (like in the US military) to keep women from the heaviest fighting, the high femail enlistment may not be a factor – just curious. I confess ignorance as to how they are actually deployed along the Gaza and West Bank borders. Could you let us know?

    Palestinian Arabs are notorious for attacking soft civilian targets, so there will sadly be a disparity in the ratio regardless.

    I believe the PA bold-faced lies about their casualty numbers anyway.

    • Hans

      The answer to your question lies in the fact that none of the Israeli female dead were killed in combat… IOW they were killed, usually together with other civilians being killed/wounded, by rockets, suicide bombs etc… In fact, even if some were serving military that fact was incidental to their being hit…

  • Brian of London

    Very few women (thankfully) have been killed on active service by enemy fire. That will probably change as women are now in front line units with dangerous roles. Its still a very small percentage if one is talking about on the ground combat troops. They are flying attack planes and helicopters now as well.

    Regardless, that’s not really an issue here because overwhelmingly, the targets of Arab attacks are not directly soldiers (especially up to May 2002 as Mr Stephens is covering here).

    35-1 is the big number. If we are to believe the “Israel as a mindless violent aggressor” story, that number should have been way higher.

  • Paul-Michael Bauer

    Thanks. That number really highlights the Palestinian Arab mindset.

    I remember seeing a political cartoon in the States with this caption: “US versus Them”. There was a soldier, standing in front of a woman and child shielding them from an armed terrorist shooting from behind another woman’s burqa.