Math proves that Israel’s stated goals are an epic lie

Twelve buildings are destroyed every hour in Gaza. (Hadi Daoud APA images)

When you’re in Gaza and see the destruction firsthand, the clearest conclusion is that Israel’s stated goals are an epic lie, on a par with “a people without a land for a land without a people,” packaged and sold to the world.

The Israelis are not targeting Hamas, nor are they interested in returning their captives, who pose tremendous liability upon their release, as they often have good things to say about their captors.

Math is useful to prove what I’m saying

So here are some numbers to start.

Destroyed buildings

• As of April 2024, approximately 360,000 buildings have been destroyed, of which are 405 schools and universities, 700 hospitals and health facilities, 290 mosques and three churches. Given the estimation by the United Nations monitoring group OCHA that 12 buildings are destroyed every hour in Gaza, the adjusted number to account for May and June is 377,280 buildings.

Death and injuries from direct fire

• The reported number of martyrs on Wednesday this week was 37,718. It’s important to note that this number only includes martyrs who have been identified by name and civil ID number through the beleaguered health ministry in Gaza. Given the breakdown of reporting systems due to heavy destruction of infrastructure and personnel, this number, even with its limited parameters, is a gross underestimation. Based on more accurate figures of approximately 370 people killed daily, multiplied by 264 days of genocide, the actual number is closer to 97,680 martyred. (Per OCHA estimate of 15 martyrs per hour: Over the course of 264 days, which amounts to 6,336 hours, this number would roughly be 95,040).

• The adjusted estimate of martyrs is 260 percent more than the stagnant reported number. It is reasonable to adjust the number of injured (currently 86,377) by the same percentage, bringing that value to 224,580. (Per OCHA estimate of 35 injured per hour, this number comes to 221,760).

Death from lack of medications and chronic conditions

• Importantly, the number above does not include the thousands of unidentified martyrs, some of whom were uncovered from mass graves; those who arrived headless or in impossible pieces; those who were buried by their loved ones without going through the hospital system; those who have died of starvation; those who have died from lack of access to critical medications; those who have died from infections or communicable diseases.

• Taking into account 1,100 dialysis patients, 2,000 cancer patients and 341,000 individuals who depend on medication to manage chronic illnesses (45,000 cardiovascular disease, 71,000 diabetes, 225,000 hypertension), the extreme shortage of life-saving medication has and will continue to lead to deaths from Israel’s withholding of supplies. If a very conservative estimate of 5 percent of these patients die as a result (if they have not already), that’s an additional 17,050 people.

• However, a more accurate all-cause mortality rate for unmanaged diabetes is 13.6 percent (putting mortality at 9,869 people); 37 percent for uncontrolled hypertension (translating to 83,250 people); untreated dialysis and cancer patients will have a high mortality rate. A conservative estimate for this group is 30 percent or 930 patients.

• Taken together, this is 94,049 people (I didn’t consider cardiovascular disease alone, since patients tend to have co-morbidities and there would be natural overlap in these numbers).

Dead or dying from starvation

• According to a recent UN-backed Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report, approximately 495,000 Palestinians in Gaza are facing “catastrophic” hunger, which means they suffer extreme lack of food leading to acute malnutrition in young children, imminent risk of starvation and death. If we make a conservative 5 percent estimate of death from starvation among this population, that’s 24,750 people dead or dying from starvation.

• Data-driven mortality for acute malnutrition is approximately 20 percent. However, the current classification has not yet reached full-blown famine levels, making the current estimate reasonable.

Missing, presumed dead or kidnapped

• Approximately 21,000 children are missing and unaccounted for. Some are trapped under the rubble, some have been kidnapped by Israeli soldiers, while others are simply lost in the chaos. Given the relative equal ratio of adults to children in Gaza, it is safe to assume the same number of adults are likewise unaccounted for, doubling this number to 42,000 people missing overall.

Death from disease

• Due to the destruction of water and sanitation infrastructure, coupled with restrictions on aid entering Gaza, Israel’s assault has led to the spread of communicable and water-borne diseases such as acute jaundice (due mostly to hepatitis A), acute diarrhea (with bloody stool), scabies and lice, skin rashes, smallpox and acute respiratory infections, which totaled 1,440,805 cases as of 10 June. If only 1 percent of these patients succumb to these serious conditions, that’s 14,408 people likewise killed indirectly by Israel’s bombing and siege of Gaza.

• Mortality for acute jaundice or hepatitis A is low (2.5 percent in adults and less than 1 percent in children; thus a 1 percent mortality estimate is appropriate for this category, or 817 people); mortality for diarrhea ranges from 4.27 percent to 12 percent (20,722-58,238 people); smallpox mortality is 1-30 percent, depending on strain (854-2,561 people); mortality rates for acute respiratory disease range from 27 percent to 45 percent depending on severity (or 233,592-389,320 people). Taken together, adjusted for scientific data, the range for this category of martyrs is 255,985-450,936 people.

Estimate summaries

Based on these estimates, both conservative and data-driven, respectively, the actual figures are likely as follows:

•377,280 buildings destroyed completely or partially
•95,040-97,680 martyred
•221,760 injured
•24,750 dead or dying from starvation
•42,000 missing (presumed dead, kidnapped by Israel’s occupying forces or possibly trafficked).

The following ranges represent conservative estimate or lower range of data-driven population estimates:

•17,050-94,049 with chronic illnesses dead from lack of medication
•14,408-255,985 dead from epidemics resulting from Israel’s assault

This means the actual number of dead is closer to 194,768-511,824 people, with 221,760 injured. And counting.

This does not include the thousands who have been kidnapped and are being tortured in Israel’s gulags, at least three dozen of whom have been tortured to death or died from harsh conditions.

Some lives matter

The estimates here are reasonable but on-the-ground studies must be conducted immediately. International institutions must urgently assess the actual all-cause mortality resulting directly and indirectly from Israel’s assault on Gaza.

Thus far, of the 240 Israeli captives in Gaza, Israel has allegedly killed 50 of their own, both directly (shooting them) and indirectly (bombing the buildings they are in) and secured the release of 112 captives, 105 through negotiated agreements with Hamas, and seven via “rescue” missions.

The most recent direct “rescue” mission resulted in the release of four captives in Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza. A total of 274 Palestinians and several Israeli captives were killed in the same operation.

At least one US lawmaker believes sacrificing hundreds of Palestinians for four Israelis is worth it, because, it seems, only some lives matter.

I’ll leave it to readers to do the math to see the level of death and destruction inflicted on Gaza per captive or per Hamas fighter.

There can be only one of two conclusions. Either the Israeli military is the most incompetent force to ever walk this planet – and has no reliable intelligence gathering capability – or Israel is a sadistic nation intent on genocide of the indigenous population, much as all settler colonial projects have been throughout history.

• First published in The Electronic Intifada

Susan Abulhawa is a writer and activist. Her most recent novel is Against the Loveless World. Read other articles by Susan.