Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Math vs. Anti-Semitic Propaganda | a JoËoL blog

While it seems to be standard reporting to claim that the “vast majority” of Gaza casualties from Israel’s 2014 “Operation Protective Edge” are civilians, the claims must be approached with a healthy level of skepticism. While Israel’s casualties can easily be determined by a well-organized and uniformed military, Hamas strikes from civilian areas often wearing civilian clothing. So do the health officials really always know the difference between a “civilian” and a “combatant” just by looking at a maimed corpse? By looking at the age structure of the Gaza casualties and comparing it to the age structure of the entire population, not only does the answer to this question seem to be a resounding “no” but the data implies that the civilian to combatant ratio in the current conflict is at least as low as 1:1.
Aljazeera (which is heavily pro-Palestinian) last updated their list of Gaza casualties on July 24, 2014, but even from it we have a sample size of over 600. After eliminating those listed as “unknown age”, “Jihad member”, “Jihad commander”, etc., we end up with a sample of 515 “civilians”. Since the claim is that these civilians are being massacred indiscriminately, we would expect that the age structure of this sampling should roughly resemble the age structure of the entire population, at least to a degree.
So I did some filtering on the list from Aljazeera above to obtain just the list of “civilian” ages. I outputted these to this file. Please feel free to check the file against the website yourself and verify my data and calculations are accurate.
What we might expect is something like the following age structure provided by the CIA World Factbook in 2013:
But surprisingly enough, this is what we get instead:
gaza_casualties_bar_graphIt is clear that the huge spikes in fighting-age people, particularly 20-40 years, from the data imply that this is not a “random” sampling of civilians who were targeted indiscriminately. If that were the case, it would resemble much better the pattern of the overall population.

Operation Protective Edge Has a 1:1 Civilian to Combatant Casualty Ratio
We can take this one step further to have a pretty strong argument that Operation Protective Edge has a 1:1 civilian to combatant casualty ratio, a ratio far lower than the average of 3:1 since WWII. (For reference, the U.S.-led Iraq war from 2003 to 2013 averaged 3.35:1 civilian to combatant casualty ratio.) To show the casualty ratio for Operation Protective Edge, we will simply leave the age ranges 0-15 and 65-100+ intact from the data, since these are age ranges that will most likely not include combatants. In between, we will fill in what we might expect based on the actual age structure of the Gaza population as a whole as shown in the first part of this article. This gives us the following expected values (and note I did err well on the side of higher numbers of civilians as you can see in this overlay).
expected_gaza_casualties_bar_graphNow, summing the numbers above gives us a total of 268 civilians. Remember, our original sample size was 515 “civilians.” This was after filtering out 10 who were identified as combatants. So that leaves us with a fairly theoretically sound number of combatants to be 10+515-268=257 combatants. That is, we have 268 civilians to 257 combatants, or approximately 1.04:1, which of course rounds to 1:1. Considering that we erred so well on the side of higher civilian casualties and at least some of the numbers here may have been from failed Gaza rocket attacks that landed back in Gaza or other causes, the actual ratio is likely even lower than 1:1. These numbers agree very closely with Israel’s claim that it has evidence that 47% of Gaza casualties were combatants. In fact, the numbers we’ve obtained here show an estimated 49% of the casualties were combatants.

I’m not about to go through the trouble of figuring out based on names the statistics for females versus males, since I’m not familiar with Arabic names, but if anyone knows of somewhere that lists the casualties as well as the genders, I will be happy to include this analysis as well. I would definitely theorize that the spikes would have an incongruous majority of males within that age group.
There is obviously some order here that results in many more deaths in the young adult age range, the very age range where we would imagine most fighters would fall. These numbers that were obtained from the pro-Palestinian Aljazeera and on which we performed calculations suggest nearly exactly what Israel claims it has proof of (which we will see in the coming weeks and months for sure). These figures are 3 times better than even that of U.S. vs Iraq, and all this in the difficult situation that is Hamas and human shields.
Besides, we all know if Israel wanted to indiscriminately kill 1500 people (the current death toll), all they would have had to do is indiscriminately (and unannounced) level 55 football fields worth of Gaza (yeah, more math, check it if you want), which could be easily achieved in one night for Israel. Most people don’t understand numbers, but mathematicians do. Israel is not indiscriminately “carpet bombing” anyone. And considering Israel has one of the greatest armies on Earth, if they’re trying to commit genocide, they’re doing a horrible job at it! :o
[EDIT: Just found out also did an analysis (though not as graphical as this one).]