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ISRAELI air strikes killed up to 10 times as many civilians during its 11-day bombardment of Gaza this year than in the Israeli military’s (IDF) eight-year bombing campaign of Syria, new research reveals.
Between 151 and 192 civilians were killed between May 10 to 21 when the IDF began striking Gaza, according to report published today by Airwars, a non-profit group monitoring civilian deaths from air strikes.
“Over a third of reported civilian victims of Israeli strikes were children. Most were killed while with their families, in the evenings or at night. A further 612 to 847 Palestinians were reported injured,” the report says.
Israel carried out more than 1,500 air and artillery strikes on Gaza, one of the most heavily populated places on Earth, the report says.
“Militants were regularly targeted in non-military settings, leading to devastating impacts for civilians. Where Palestinian rocket strikes did get through Israeli defences, casualties also mostly occurred in urban areas.”
By contrast, Airwars research has found that the IDF “has likely killed between 14 and 40 civilians in Syria since 2013,” when it began attacking Iranian-backed groups in the country.
“The great majority of Israeli actions in Syria have, according to local reports, targeted military assets such as air bases, troop convoys and weapons stores, away from major cities and towns,” Airwars says.
“By contrast, other foreign belligerents such as Russia and the US-led coalition have made strategic military choices in Syria that have led to civilians being killed in their thousands.”
Airwars director Chris Woods said that the report corroborates what the group has found with other large scale conflicts in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere: “Even technologically advanced militaries kill large numbers of civilians when attacks focus on urban centres.
“Despite repeated assurances, it’s clear that ‘precision warfare’ cannot sufficiently mitigate civilian harm,” Mr Woods said.
“Stark differences in civilian deaths and injuries from Israeli actions in Syria and in the Gaza Strip clearly illustrate that the most significant driver of civilian harm remains the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
“The single most effective way to reduce the number of civilians dying in warfare would be to restrict the use of such dangerous wide-area-effect weapons.”
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