Action on Armed Violence(AOAV) is a London-based charity which monitors casualties, civilian and combatant, of explosive weapons use globally. Based on our methodology, AOAV records only those incidents of explosive weapons use where discrete, quantifiable casualties are reported. This means AOAV makes no claim to capture all incidents, or all casualties, of explosive violence.
In Gaza in particular, it has been shown by AOAV that incident-specific English-language reporting is only capturing around one third of casualties as the Israeli air and ground forces continue Operation Swords of Iron.
However, on the 11 December, X (Twitter) users began to post and repost a false interpretation of our data based on a selective reading of this AOAV report (Numbers of civilian deaths per airstrike in 2023 Gaza at least four times higher than previous Israeli bombings, AOAV finds).
The post claimed that the civilian deaths per airstrike in Gaza was 0.8. They cited AOAV’s data on the airstrike deaths in Mosul, Aleppo and Raqqa as a comparison. This both ignored the fact that AOAV had estimated Gaza 2023 airstrikes as killing 10.1, not 0.8 as claimed. But it also justified its calculation by dividing the number of civilians killed with the total number of bombs dropped by the IDF. This is NOT the methodology AOAV used to calculate harm in Iraq or Syria.
It is noted that Eli Kowaz later deleted his post when AOAV informed him of its error. Eylon Levy, the Israeli Government Spokesman, has yet to delete his post.
As such, and in response to other X members’ misuse of AOAV data, AOAV would like to clarify that the graph used in the above infographic grossly misrepresents AOAV’s findings.
The AOAV post which the users selectively gathered some of their data from was comparing the ongoing Israeli operation to the most injurious month of other 21st century conflict, not the conflicts as a whole. Furthermore, as noted, the tweet has seemingly added a third data source: air strikes reported by the Israeli Defence Forces.
To clarify, AOAV does not capture all air strikes – not in Gaza, and not in Mosul, Aleppo, or Raqqa. The addition of a third source, one which would also report on air strikes that do not cause casualties, and which would be able to record more of their own air strikes than the sources used by AOAV, dilutes the data, meaning that the user’s findings on Gaza cannot be compared to AOAV’s findings regarding the other conflicts in the post.
AOAV’s data suggests that, up to the beginning of November, 92% of recorded IDF air strikes caused reported civilian casualties: 276 of the 299 recorded IDF strikes in Gaza caused 4,104 civilian casualties (2,798 killed, 1,306 injured).
This means the average number of reported civilians killed per total air strikes (including those not reported as causing civilian casualties) was 9.4. The average number of reported civilians killed per civilian casualty-causing air strike was 10.1.
AOAV’s data for the other conflicts included in the X post shows the current operation to deadlier per air strike than the
Battle of Raqqa, from June 6, 2017 to October 17th, 2017:
161 air strikes, 157 of which caused 1,863 civilian casualties (1,424 killed, 439 injured)
9.1 civilians killed per civilian casualty-causing air strike, 8.8 civilian killed per total air strikes
Battle of Mosul: Oct 16, 2016 – Jul 20, 2017:
159 air strikes, 125 of which caused 2,980 civilian casualties (1,914 killed, 1,066 injured)
15.3 civilians killed per civilian casualty-causing air strike, 12.0 civilians killed per total air strikes
Aleppo Offense: Sept 22, 2016 – Oct 16, 2016
21 air strikes, each of which caused 1,134 civilian casualties (446 killed, 688 injured)
21.2 civilians killed per civilian casualty-causing air strike.
We urge all X users to delete their posts and to retweet this post for clarity.
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