Paying the Toll

A 5/31/2024 article in CounterPunch returns to the question of the death toll of the genocide in Gaza, and the gross undercount of deaths by almost every agency imaginable, even the ones in Gaza itself. I suggest further elaboration.

200,000 was the number dead that Ralph Nader estimated at the beginning of March. It has to be double that now. How many thousands of pregnant women and their fetuses and newborn have died? How many diabetics or others needing medication or special diets or treatment? But even those without special conditions are dying because they can’t give up food and water.

We have reached the stage where the number of starving or dehydrated persons is so high that they have no defense against common diseases or mild injuries. Why are they not reported? Because there is no one to record them, of course. The hospitals and clinics are largely a memory. Potable water is a luxury. I’m banned from X and FB, but I imagine you’ve seen the living and dying skeletons that I predicted months ago. I see them mainly on Telegram. The international agencies report that nearly all the population is food insecure, and a majority are malnourished. It’s a matter of time.

Israel would like to move faster. I’m not sure why they don’t. Perhaps they’re afraid that world reaction will graduate to more forceful measures, but I see no indication that this is the case. With the exception of Yemen and some non-state actors, no one seems willing to resort to physical force. Members of the US Congress and figures in the Biden administration have even encouraged Israel to “finish the job”. Certainly, they have no moral qualms.

Are they worried that they will run out of Jews? Part of the purpose of killing off the Palestinians was to assure that Jews will be significantly more numerous in “greater Israel” (AKA Palestine). That clearly is not working. It is far more likely that more Jews have fled Israel than Palestinians have been reduced by genocide. In fact, even the effective Jewish inhabited area has been reduced in both the north and the south.

Worse still, Israel grossly underestimated the capability of the Palestinian resistance and its partners, and overestimated its own. Hamas and its allies clearly understood and planned for Israel’s reaction, while Israel had little appreciation for their adversary. So much for the strategy of disproportionate force. Israel is unaccustomed to taking so many casualties, which are in any case unknown. No one believes the official count and resorting to foreign mercenaries.

Israel is also dissolving from within. Who’s buying Israeli anymore, except the dwindling community of true believers? What economy is left consists largely of shoveling American money into Israeli furnaces. Meanwhile, Israelis are fighting among themselves for desperate solutions to their intractable problems. The powerful international network of faithful sayanim will remain in place (who likes to give up power?) and will continue to manage the controls. But other Jews will object to being associated with such persons, weakening the support for, and the effectiveness of, the Zionist dreamightmare.

Israel is clearly losing, but the rate of its demise will depend on factors that are difficult to predict, and even harder to control. Nevertheless, if Israel survives this miscalculation in the short term, it will only do so as a smaller, more fanatical remnant of its former self.

Paul Larudee is a retired academic and current administrator of a nonprofit human rights and humanitarian aid organization. Read other articles by Paul.