Israeli Airstrikes on Gaza Killed More This Week Than Hamas Rockets Have in 20 Years

Israel's aerial bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip has killed more people this week than Hamas rockets have in the span of 20 years, Newsweek has found.

The diverging body counts strengthen the narrative of Palestinian suffering and contribute to the increasing global calls for Israeli restraint.

Palestinians typically point to the higher death tolls on their side as evidence of Israel's disproportionate use of force. Israel says Palestinian militants would cause much higher casualties if not for the Jewish state's superior air defenses. It also accuses Palestinian militants of deliberately mingling with civilians for cover and propaganda purposes.

Based on Israeli data, 38 Israeli civilians have been killed between 2000 and 2020 by Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza. Palestinians say 122 of their people have been killed by Israel between Monday, May 10 and Friday, May 14. Palestinians do not give separate figures for militants and civilians. Israel does.

On its website, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has compiled a lengthy list of "victims of Palestinian violence" from September 27, 2000 until May 5, 2021. Upon reviewing the list and profiles of the victims published by the MFA, Newsweek has found at least 16 people, including four children, whose deaths were officially linked to rockets fired by Hamas.

They include 12 civilians, two members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and two foreign workers. Of the 16 attacks, the MFA has attributed one to "Hamas terrorists," while stating the Islamist group has claimed the rest.

In the case of 30 fatalities by Palestinian rockets, the MFA did not specify which group fired the projectiles. The MFA stated approximately six of them were killed by Hamas-produced Qassam rockets. At least 16 of those deaths were linked to projectiles fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas. In 2004, a 24-year-old woman was killed in a mortar strike conducted by unidentified actors on the now-dismantled Gush Katif settlement bloc in Gaza.

The list also included deadly rocket attacks by other Palestinian groups, such as several claimed by the Islamic Jihad: at least five IDF deaths by RPG anti-tank rockets, as well as the killing of one Chinese and two Palestinian workers in Gaza by a Qassam rocket. In 2010, a Thai worker's death by a Qassam rocket was claimed by Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, as well as Islamist group Ansar al-Sunna.

The MFA's list omitted IDF soldiers killed during the 2008 and 2014 Gaza wars.

On Friday, the Palestinian health ministry announced 122 Palestinians, including 31 children, have so far been killed in Gaza as Israel has pounded the densely-populated enclave with airstrikes amid escalating military hostilities this week. The ministry said entire families were also "targeted" by Israeli fire, with 26 among those killed belonging to eight families.

The Palestinian health ministry reported 20 dead by Israeli airstrikes on Monday, meaning the death toll increased by 102 people only four days later.

The Associated Press reported Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups confirmed at least 20 dead among their ranks, but the IDF said it had killed more than 100.

The IDF said Hamas and Islamic Jihad have fired over 1,750 rockets towards Israel, resulting in the deaths of 7 Israeli civilians. The army reported a six-year-old child was killed on Wednesday after a rocket fired from Gaza struck his home in Israel.

The army said the reason why Gaza has suffered more casualties than Israel is due to the Islamist factions deliberately putting Palestinian civilians' lives on the line.

"Of the 1,750+ rockets that they have fired since Monday, 300 misfired and exploded inside Gaza, killing and injuring innocent Gazans in the vicinity," the IDF said. "This is because Hamas and Islamic Jihad deliberately place rocket launchers and military sites within densely populated civilian areas in the Gaza Strip."

The IDF added that Hamas and Islamic Jihad encourage Gazans to remain in place as the army warns them to evacuate.

"But in Israel, the IDF does everything it can to protect Israeli civilians, and the Iron Dome Aerial Defense System has successfully intercepted over 90 percent of rockets fired at Israel," the IDF said.

However, the Palestinian health ministry accused Israeli forces of targeting "densely populated residential areas" in the enclave.

"Threatening civilians and displacing them from their homes towards shelters creates a dangerous environment for the spread of COVID-19 and increases the burden on Gaza's already exhausted health system," the ministry said.

"Direct targeting of roads infrastructure and the periphery of health centres is considered as war crime where this act impede patients' access to medical centers, in addition to the inability of medical teams reaching patients."

The ministry also said Israel has halted fuel imports for power plants that provide energy to hospitals in Gaza, which affects "vital departments" such as operation theaters and intensive care units.

Palestinians mourn relatives dead by Israeli airstrikes
Relatives mourn the death of two members of the Palestinian Alrantisi family, killed in an Israeli air strike, at their funeral in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 14, 2021. SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images