Debunking the “Millions of Palestinians Killed Since 1948” Libel

If you follow the Jew-haters and Israel-haters online, chances are you have come across their claims of millions of palestinian Arabs killed by Israel since 1948.

This is a huge lie.

Finding the exact number of palestinian casualities since 1948 is an incredibly tricky business, but I have a principle: if you find an anti-Israel site quoting casualty figures, these are almost certainly inflated.

Utilizing this principle, this anti-Israel propaganda website claims “0.1 million Palestinians killed violently”, but then adds “1.9 million avoidable Palestinian deaths from war – occupation – and expulsion-imposed deprivation.” Clearly the second part is blaming nearly all, if not all, palestinian deaths since 1948 on Israel under this nebulous concept of “deprivation.” But the first part is an acknowledgement that no more than 100,000 palestinian Arabs have been directly killed by Israel (or her allies). A far cry from the 5+ million commonly claimed.

The Jewish Virtual Library, although clearly a pro-Israel site, does use a number of more objective sources to come up with a number of approximately 91,000 killed, but it includes not just palestinian Arabs in Israel, but also those from invading Arab countries Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The fatalities of palestinian Arabs only would be closer to 20,000.

In  2007, Gunnar Heinsohn from the University of Bremen and Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, found that the Muslim Arab deaths in the Arab-Israeli conflict were at 46,000, including 11,000 during Israel’s war of independence. Based on this research, the number would be dramatically less than even the 100,000.

Even assuming we take the higher figure of 100,000, note:

  • The vast majority of the palestinians killed have been in the context of wars started by them and their Arab brethren
  • Many of these were actual combatants. While the actual civilian-combatant ratio is impossible to garner, Israel has been known – especially in more recent times – to take great care to minimize civilian casualties, prompting Colonel Richard Kemp to famously state “the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in Gaza was by far the lowest in any asymmetric conflict in the history of warfare.”
  • Many of the civilians killed were placed in harms way by their terrorist brethren, either willingly or against their will
  • Compare this number to the number of Muslims killed by their own. For instance, estimates of the total number of deaths in the Syrian Civil War vary between 387,100 and about 593,000 as of December 2020

One of the best proofs of the “millions of palestinians killed” lie is the fact the palestinian Arab population has actually grown a lot since 1948. Even the anti-Israel WAFA news agency admits

The population of Palestine in 1914 was around 690,000 of whom only 8% were Jewish. In 1948, the number of Palestinians in Palestine exceeded 2 million

Despite the displacement of more than 800,000 Palestinians in 1948 and the displacement of more than 200,000 Palestinians to Jordan and other countries after the 1967 war, the 2017 Population, Housing and Establishments Census showed that the Palestinian population in the State of Palestine at the end of 2017 was 4.8 million in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in addition to 1.56 million within the territories occupied in 1948.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media