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Contextualizing Deaths in Israeli–Palestinian Conflict

Every death is tragic; civilian deaths are more tragic; women and children’s deaths are the most tragic. No one should go through the trauma of losing their loved ones – male or female, child or adult! No matter who they are; an unjust loss of life is, must be a universal tragedy!

What unfolded in the recent week in Israel was an abominable act. Pundits hurried to call it ‘9/11 of Israel’, yet fell short of contextualizing the circumstances in which this violence emerged and engulfed the lives of so many extraordinary humans (example).

Contextualization is neither a justification for violence nor it is an apology on the behalf of Hamas. Yet, contextualization affords us a bird’s-eye view of the circumstances in which violence arose – for violence never occurs in vacuum (and when it does, it should not be justified). Contextualization also allow us to recognize the humanity of ‘the other’, allow us to collectively grieve the loved ones we lost and the ones they lost. Contextualization allows us to empathize; to search for the root-cause, to look for symptoms, to seek remedies, to heal, to live and let live, and to break the cycle pf violence!

The following post contains interactive analysis of data compiled by B’Tselem – an Israeli human rights NGO – on fatalities on both sides (Israel and Palestine) since 2000 (till September 2023). The purpose of this post is not to justify one way or another; the purpose is to contextualize so we work together to end injustice in all forms against anyone and everyone!

  1. According to B’Tselem, the Israel-Palestine conflict has engulfed 11,124 lives since 2000. An overwhelming majority of these deaths is Palestinians (~91% or 10,092 deaths). 9 Palestinians (including combatants) were killed for each Israeli citizen killed in the conflict.*

    *This includes both retaliatory and unretaliatory violence. Even retaliatory, the scale of violence against Palestinians is massive.


2. Removing combatants from the data still leaves us with about 6.5 times higher Palestinian deaths compared to Israeli deaths.

3. Palestinian deaths compared to Israeli deaths over the years tell us that except the year 2000, Palestinian were disproportionately at the receiving end of the deadly violence.

4. The cumulative number of deaths over the years suggests a ratio of 10:1 of Palestinian versus Israeli deaths. Again, every death is a tragedy. It is not a competition, it is an abomination!

5. Who gets killed? Youth on both sides!

Women too, but mostly young men with dreams! However, the number of Palestinian youth killed is almost double that of their Israeli counterparts. Also, they get killed, on average, 10 years younger.

Young folks getting killed on both sides for what? Why? Can we put a stop it it? May be!

6. The violence happens overwhelmingly in the Palestinian territories at the hands of Israeli security forces. They are killing non-combatant civilians more than half of the time in technically a ‘foreign’ territory.

I hope this contextualization helps us reflect at the dynamics of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, help us situate the recent escalation within an ongoing violent interaction, and make us think about what we can do individually and collectively to stop this cycle of violence!

Perhaps the only immediate thing we could do is to recognize the humanity of our fellow human beings, regardless of which side we feel closer to. Civilian deaths cannot be justified let alone condoned on either side. The loss of the ‘other’s loved one should be as tragic and unsettling for us as us the loss of our own. What makes us human is the recognition of our fellow human’s suffering!

Let empathy, peace, and humanity endure!

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