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An analysis of the 7th of October 2023 casualties in Israel

Executive Summary: This report offers an in-depth analysis of the Hamas attack in Israel on October 7, 2023. It highlights the strategic and devastating impact of the attack, which coincided with the solemn observance of Yom Kippur, exacerbating its societal impact. A total of 1,269 individuals were affected, predominantly military males aged 18-25. The geographical analysis shows the attack targeted border areas near Gaza and key military sites. This analysis not only sheds light on the demographic and geographical patterns of the casualties but also aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the attack’s consequences.

Introduction
This analysis delves into the lethal impact of events unfolding on the October 7th on Israel by Hamas.

For context, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has its roots in the early 20th century. To identify the start of the tensions would lead to an historical unravelling, but many suggest that the main source of woes began in 1947 with Resolution 181, as appointed by the United Nations, whuch divided Palestine into both Arab and Jewish States. The following year, 1948, the creation of the State of Israel initiated the first Israeli-Arab war. Since then, the regions have been in ongoing conflict, with both sides committing atrocities.

The attacks on the 7th of October come during significant a Jewish holiday, the Simchat Torah. It also occurred 50 years and one day after Egyptian and Syrian forces launched an assault during the Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur. The attacks were made by Hamas, an Islamist militant group best known for its armed resistance to Israel. Within the Hamas Charter, Article 7 details the mission of Hamas as the “Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invader”.

The analysis by AOAV aims to cover the victims of the 7 October attack alone and to leave the counter-response to other reports. In it, we aim to explicitly focus on discerning patterns in demographic concentration and casualty locations. Using a mixed-methods approach, the report merges quantitative data from reliable news sources with qualitative insights to comprehensively understand of the situation.

A total of 1,269 victims have been reported killed in the 7 October attacks – a stark toll inflicted mainly by attacks the proscribed group Hamas.

Methodology
This analysis aims to determine patterns in data, such as demographic concentration, locations of casualties, ages, and genders during events occurring on the 7th of October. The data collected for the analysis comprised the list of casualties of a reputable news source responsible for accounting the victims of the events occurring on the 7th of October. The analysis employed numerous newspaper sources to link the fatalities with the locations of the attacks and cross-check information, given the confidentiality of government documents related to these operations.

While attempts were made to avoid sensationalism and fake information, it is essential to acknowledge that biases may persist in the collected data. The methodology prioritises impartiality and reliability, presenting a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the events. The analysis will follow the timelines of the reported events, comprising information from newspapers on the events. However, while collecting data from various sources, it was noted that certain information, such as age, gender, location of casualty, and birth location, were not consistently available across all materials. This limitation is acknowledged, and efforts were made to mitigate its impact on the overall analysis.

Findings
This report estimates that a total of 1,269 casualties occurred in Israel from the surprise attacks carried out by Hamas on the 7th of October.

The first part of the findings section details the age and gender of the victims, whilst the second part focuses on the geographical location of the victims and the attacks made by Hamas.

The attacks of Hamas on the Israeli state began at 6:30 am with a barrage of rockets fired towards southern and central Israel – there are reports of 2,000 up to 5,000 sighted rockets. Shortly after the barrage of rockets, the land and air attack began. Hamas entered Israel by breaching security barriers using cars, motorcycles, motorboats and one powered parachute. Figures released by the IDF detail 2,900 Palestinians entering Israel. The figures analysed below detail the number of victims who kidnapped and murdered in the ensuing violence.

Among the 1,269 victims:

  • 816 were civilians;
  • 59 belonged to the police;
  • 382 to the military; and
  • 13 to emergency services.

Gender and age of casualties
As illustrated in Figure 1, out of the 1,269 victims, 278 (21.9%) were female and 735 (57.9%) male. 230 (20.2%) of the victims still remain unidentified.

This accounts for all the categories.

When calculating the known gender of victims, the prevalence of male victims is apparent. Of the total of 1,004 victims whose gender is identified, 735 (73.4%) of these were male, and 278 (26.6%) female.

Among the civil servant victims, the majority were male.

Of those belonging to the military, 11.8% (38) were females, and 77.6% (298) were males, with 11.8% (40) of these being undetermined. These rounded-up percentages are consistent with the gender figures for the Israeli army, which has about 18% females in service.[1]

A similar male-gender trend is observed in the casualties of the police services, with 4.72% of casualties being female and 86.44% being male. Also, in the casualties of the rescue services, 7.69% (1) are female, 53.85% (7) are male. 38.45% (5) remain undetermined.

CategoryGender0-1213-1718-2526-4041-6061+total
CiviliansMale5966753626217
CiviliansFemale5566441914153
Military personnelMale0022060171298
Military personnelFemale003800038
Police and rescueMale002910122
Police and rescueFemale0031004
Table 1. Frequency of known Age and Gender across occupations

Regarding the age of the deceased, most victims identified were aged 18-25; the average age of those who died was 30.46 years old, as demonstrated in Figure 3. This aligns roughly with Israel’s median age, which is 29.1 years old.

The median age of victims speaks to the demographic attending the Supernova festival, which saw the brunt of the victims (332). The statistics regarding the festival detail up to 4,000 attendees, most of them under 30.

The attacks occurring on the 7th of October harmed both the young and the old. The youngest was only four years old and the oldest 86 years old.

29 people killed were children under the age of 18.

One of the reasons the number of victims between 18-25 is large compared to the other categories is that most of the individuals in that age range were serving in the military – 258 out of 447. This is expected in conflicts of this nature.

The pattern is different when analysing the casualties aged 26-40. In that age range, civilians make up most of the dead, totalling some 143 civilians, 69 soldiers, nine police officers, and five members of the rescue services.

Even though most victims were civilians, Figure 4.  illustrates a many of the victims were men between 18-25 working in the military service, especially when comparing the data of civilians and military victims across both gender and age groupings.

This is either due to the demographic of the military being younger men or the missing data points from the civilian standpoint.

It is essential to mention that the data provided by the military regarding the victims of the service is comprehensive. The case is not the same with civilian data. The missing data points for civilian victims both at a gender and age category stands at 569; for military victims, it is just 48.

Location of birth of victims and geographical distribution of incidents
A high number of the deceased resided in areas impacted by the attacks on the 7th of October. Hamas reportedly sent 5,000 rockets into Israel, whilst Israel reported 3,000 strikes. The first explosions recorded were in the large area of Sharon Plain, namely in Gedera, Herzliyya, Tel Aviv and Ashkelon, where some casualties were recorded. The second barrage of 150 rockets reportedly reached the regions of Yavne, Givatayim, Bat Yam, Beit Dagan, Tel Aviv and Rishon Letzion.                                               

LocationOccurrences
Be’eri86
Kfar Azza53
Jerusalem39
Ofakim36
Nir Oz33
Ashkelon31
Holon27
Rishon Letzion27
Ashkelon26
Ashdod26
Table 2. Place of Residence of Victims

Following the explosions, reports estimate the number of militants approaching Israel by multiple means of transportation at 2,900. The incursions into southern Israel occurred from 22 locations, including Sderot, Nahal Oz, Kfar Azza, Magen, Sufa, Be’eri and Re’im. These seven different locations were then taken under control by Hamas.

Figure 5 evidences the raids and attacks were made on towns bordering Gaza.

Most of the casualties were in Be’eri, close to the Supernova festival location, where 332 lives were lost. It appears the militants passed through Beeri during their assault from Gaza toward the festival, killing and kidnapping Israelis along the way.

The map here shows the main entry points of Hamas into Israel. The northernmost point, Erez Crossing, facilitates access to areas such as Zikim, where a military base is located, Sderot and Kfar Azza, both of which saw many victims.

The circle in the middle illustrates the al-Karara crossing in which militants entered Israel. Through this entrance, the militants had direct access to the Supernova Festival near the Re’eim military base. Be’eri, between Kfar Azza and Re’im and the two main entry points, have the most significant number of victims because of the attacks on the Kibbutz, known as the massacre of Be’eri.

The three military bases invaded by the Hamas militants are illustrated by blue arrows. The military bases in Re’im (Gaza division headquarters) and Nahal Oz were taken by the militants, leaving several Israeli soldiers dead. The Zikim military base also had casualties, as early reports on the 7th of October recall seeing a boat filled with militants heading to the coastal town where the base is located.

The police Station in Sderot also had been taken under Hamas control, and 30 police officers and civilians were killed there. Hamas seemed to have gathered information on these military bases prior to the attack – some had tactical guides, blueprints of the bases and even Arabic-Hebrew translations. These documents were all found on the bodies of dead Hamas fighters or on site of the attacks.

Recommendations
The data analysis raises to policy recommendations from AOAV.

  1. Comprehensive Public Record: AOAV calls for a full and comprehensive public record of casualties both in Israel and Gaza. This should include detailed information such as names, ages, genders, and specific locations of death. The report’s data (and absence of data) on the gender or demographic trends of the victims demonstrates the importance of such detailed records for public understanding and policy formulation.
  2. Inclusivity of Civilian Victims: The same level of detailed reporting on military victims should also apply to civilian victims in Gaza. The holes in the data show starkly how there is a need for an inclusive approach to casualty reporting across all affected regions, ensuring equitable and transparent information dissemination.

Conclusion
In conclusion, this analysis has provided a summary examination of the events occurring on October 7th, shedding light on crucial aspects of their impact on Israel.

With 1,269 reported victims, the findings highlight patterns in gender, age, and occupation. The analysis of age and gender among the deceased reflects the widespread consequences of the attacks, emphasising the indiscriminate nature of the violence, given that individuals were equally targeted.

Geographical analysis correlates initial attacks with subsequent casualties, particularly in areas like Be’eri, Kfar Azza, and Ofakim. Although there are seven points of entry from Gaza to Israel, two points, Erz Crossing and al-Karara (near Kissufim) are the main connector locations to the attacks. The breakdown of events of the dawn of 7th of October also shed light on the occupation of the military bases and the means used to reach this goal.

Finally, as society grapples with the statistical realities highlighted in this analysis and many others, it is imperative to recognise that behind every number is a human life. The reported 1m269 victims serve as a reminder of the profound tragedy that has befallen individuals, families, and communities, underscoring the human cost of the events since October 7th and all that has unfolded since.

Bibliography

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  • Border Town identifies at least 15 of its residents killed in Hamas … (2023) The Times of Israel. Available at: https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/border-town-identifies-at-least-15-of-its-residents-killed-in-hamas-attack/.
  • Civilians and soldiers held hostage in Gaza, says Israel – as it happened (2023) The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2023/oct/07/hamas-launches-attack-on-israel-with-5000-rockets-live?filterKeyEvents=false&page=with%3Ablock-652119f28f0880e74add7736#block-652119f28f0880e74add7736.
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[1] 1. Dr. Idit Shafran Gittleman, “Women’s Service in the IDF: Between a ‘People’s Army’ and Gender Equality,” The Israel Democracy Institute, March 3, 2022, https://en.idi.org.il/articles/24554.