Israel Is Likely Inflating Hamas Death Tolls Through “Kill Zones” in Gaza

International Affairs palestine
Israel Is Likely Inflating Hamas Death Tolls Through “Kill Zones” in Gaza

One of the big early decisions made in plotting out new Splinter’s coverage was whether to use the word genocide to describe the Israeli assault on Gaza. The case presented by South Africa at the International Court of Justice contains enough compelling evidence at the extremely high legal bar to use the term, and from an Editor-in-Chief’s standpoint, just the video they put together of Israeli politicians saying genocidal things about Palestinians was enough to meet my standard.

Once you begin to track the litany of Israeli war crimes in Gaza and connect them to the words of the people directing the assault, this monstrosity is very clearly what it looks and sounds like, especially as Israel refuses to let anything close to the necessary amount of civilian aid into Gaza.

We know that the Israeli military has run a calculated campaign to turn Gaza into a “mass assassination factory” thanks to +972 Magazine, which is run by an independent group of Palestinian and Israeli journalists.

This kind of hard reporting that exposes the clear reality of the genocidal Israeli regime is not a common feature of U.S.-based reports on this crisis (most U.S. reporting, especially in the weeks after October 7th, was heavily slanted towards Israeli government narratives). The majority of reports are either high-level diplomatic depictions of the situation viewed from the seat of empire, or just stenography dutifully publishing Joe Biden’s “I am very concerned” bullshit talking points every time he authorizes another shipment of weapons to Benjamin Netanyahu.

Another feature of the events since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7th is how traditional Israeli media is portraying a far more accurate picture than mainstream American outlets like The New York Times, whose framing so often conveniently aligns with State Department policy.

Haaretz is Israel’s oldest daily paper, and it has produced a lot of damning reports about the criminal Netanyahu regime over the years, including this latest one from over the weekend containing this bombshell of a quote:

“In practice, a terrorist is anyone the IDF has killed in the areas in which its forces operate,” says a reserve officer who has served in Gaza.

The report stems from a horrific video that made the rounds on social media in the last week where the Israeli military killed four unarmed people in a drone strike (Warning: graphic footage of people dying in the attack at this link). A Senior Israel Defense Forces officer told Haaretz, “this was a very grave incident. They were unarmed, they didn’t endanger our forces in the area in which they were walking.”

And yet, Israeli drone operators saw fit to fire on them. Why? The explanation actually lies in an IDF Spokesman’s defense to Haaretz.

“The area documented in the footage is an active combat area in Khan Yunis, in which there was a significant evacuation of the civilian population. The forces there experienced many encounters with terrorists who fight and move in combat areas, while dressed as civilians, and camouflage combat gear in buildings and property that appear to be civilian.”

In short, because they were in a “kill zone.” The IDF Spokesperson disputes this notion to Haaretz because these areas are not designated in official orders, but they so helpfully go on to demonstrate in that quote how it is de facto policy to kill anything that moves in these zones while defending Israel massacring four unarmed people who “didn’t endanger our forces.” The Haaretz report details a policy that matches up pretty well with what we see on video.

“In every combat zone, commanders define such kill zones,” says the reserve officer. “This means clear red lines that no one who is not from the IDF may cross, so that our forces in the area are not hit.” The boundaries of these kill zones are not determined in advance, nor is their distance from the house in which the forces are situated.

“As soon as people enter it, mainly adult males, orders are to shoot and kill, even if that person is unarmed,” says the reserve officer.

Israel claims to have killed over 9,000 “terrorists” among the at least 32,000 dead Gazans (including at least 13,000 children), a figure which Israeli Defense Force sources in the Haaretz report cast serious doubt on.

Israeli Defense Forces have shoot on sight orders for these so-called “kill zones,” and with that kind of mindless barbarism you can kill 9,000 people pretty quickly. Whether they’re actually Hamas fighters is another question, and the Israelis reportedly counting anyone they shoot in these “kill zones” as a terrorist exposes the cynical lie at the base of their entire Gaza operation.

Add in the fact that Israel is facilitating a mass starvation that threatens to kill hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and it’s crystal clear to anyone with two functioning brain cells that “eradicating Hamas” is just the cover story for their real goal in this heinous attack on a captive civilian population (and given that Netanyahu provided a 10-year timeline for the operation in Gaza, it seems he knows “eradicating Hamas” is an unrealistic goal too).

Which is yet another reason to call this what it is: a genocide.

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