Henry Srebrnik: The Gaza War is Taking its Toll on Israel

Israel’s “Iron Dome” defensive system has proved remarkably efficient in destroying missiles and rockets launched by Hamas from Gaza – though one rocket that landed near Ben Gurion International Airport did manage to stop much airplane travel to the country for a few days. But this is no casualty-free fight, despite overwhelming Israeli military superiority.

Given that the Palestinian death toll in Gaza in this war between Hamas and Israel has now topped 1,100, the Israeli deaths, at the moment numbering 56, may not sound like much. But we should put that number in context:

Israel’s population stands at about eight million, of which 6,135,000 are Jewish. Assuming all 56 deaths are Jews (as Israeli Arabs do not serve in the military), as a percentage of the population this is the equivalent of about 2,800 American fatalities in a population of 314 million.

In other words, Israel has proportionately lost more people in this three-week conflict than the U.S. has suffered in thirteen years in Afghanistan – where a total of some 2,300 Americans have died. That gives us some perspective as to why Israel wants to stop further Hamas attacks.

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