As the debate continues to rage about the number of civilian casualties on both sides, one aspect of the story isn’t receiving enough attention. Supporters of Israel have rightly noted IDF efforts to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza and pointed out that Hamas leaders purposely hide themselves and their arsenals among civilians, who are used as human shields to give Israel pause, or alternatively, to gain propaganda victories from civilian deaths. Less focus has been given to explaining that one of the main reasons that the death toll is relatively low on the Israeli side is that Israel goes to great lengths to protect its own civilians. Every building in Israel must be equipped with a bomb shelter and they have developed an alert system to warn civilians about incoming rocket fire. The IDF has a Homefront Command branch specifically dedicated to coordinating civil defense and educating the public about what to do in the event of a given attack. Furthermore, if any Israelis are injured, the nation has developed among the best emergency response medical services in the world. So, putting this together, if you have one side that puts its energy into protecting its own civilians and another side that tries to keep its civilians in harm’s way — even putting aside the variable that one party has a more powerful military — it isn’t surprising to see more casualties among the Palestinians than the Israelis.
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