Categories

Explosive violence researchImpact of explosive violence on civiliansExplosive violence in GazaAOAV: all our reports

Occupied Palestinian Territories: AOAV explosive violence data on harm to civilians

Total civilian casualties from explosive violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 07 Oct 2023*: 17, 878
– Killed: 12, 550
– Injured: 5, 328

Last updated: 19 Feb 2024

In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, AOAV showed that English-language media underreports the numbers of casualties caused by incidents of explosive weapons use, capturing only a third of the actual civilian deaths from specific explosive incidents in Gaza.

Furthermore, the use of explosive weapons in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is so frequent that it is difficult to attribute civilian casualties to specific incidents of use, as required by AOAV’s methodology. It is equally difficult to track rising injury or death tolls from specific incidents.

For these reasons, AOAV’s data underrepresents the extent of harm caused by explosive weapons in the OPT. For more information on casualties from official sources in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, see the Ministry of Health in Gaza figures reported, when possible, by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

*This figure refers to the number of reported civilians killed or injured by explosive weapon use in Gaza since 07 October 2023, gathered using incident-specific English language media reporting. See AOAV’s methodology. Where a specific breakdown of civilians and combatants was not provided, casualties are reported as civilians with the caveat that combatants may be included in the toll.

Gaza

  • 1, 359 incidents 
  • 17, 722 civilian casualties (12, 481 killed, 5, 241 injured)
  • Civilian casualties include at least 1, 200 children, 576 women, and 658 men

West Bank

  • 29 incidents 
  • 156 civilian casualties (69 killed, 87 injured)
  • Civilian casualties include at least 16 children, 4 women, and 39 men

5 most impacted towns

  • Gaza City (4, 209 civilian casualties)
  • Khan Younis (3, 648)
  • Jabalia (3, 059)
  • Rafah (2, 222)
  • Deir al Balah (1, 314)

5 most impacted towns

  • Jenin (100 civilian casualties)
  • Tulkarm (36)
  • Nur Shams (9)
  • Baqa ash Shariyya (7)
  • Beitar Illit (4)

6 most impacted locations

  • Urban residential (12, 706 civilian casualties)
  • Encampments (1, 793)
  • Hospital (957)
  • School (802)
  • Road (311)
  • Place of worship (297)

Locations

  • Encampment (81 civilian casualties)
  • Urban residential (58)
  • Place of worship (10)
  • Commercial premises (7)

Background
On October 7th, Israel launched Operation Swords of Iron, in response to the massacre perpetrated by Hamas across Israel. Hamas’ brutal attack shocked and terrified the nation, as well as the world: at least 1,200 people were killed as Hamas targeted communities using heavy weapons, including RPGs and grenades, alongside firearms and automatic weapons. 

So far, Operation Swords of Iron has resulted in an average of 10.1 civilian fatalities per air strikes – significantly surpassing previous Gaza operations, as well as the global average of 7.4 – as Israel pursues the stated goal of eliminating Hamas. Allegations of violations of International Humanitarian Law have been raised against all parties to the conflict, in particular Israeli military tactics that seem to subject the civilian population of Gaza to collective punishment. The current operation is also slated to be one of the longest Israeli operations in Gaza in over a decade.

Prof. Michael Spagat and Daniel Silverman examined the casualty statistics emanating from the Gaza Ministry of Health (MoH), finding that the total numbers of Gazan fatalities reported by the MoH in previous confrontations have proven reliable. They also analysed the representation of adult women, children, and the elderly among the dead, concluding that the fatalities in Operation Swords of Iron are heavily civilian.

Historical Context

For context, here are the statistics from other deadly Israeli-led air operations in Gaza:

Operation Pillar of Defense – November 2012

  • Total recorded air strikes: 82
  • Air strikes causing civilian harm: 67
  • Civilian casualties: 436 (85 killed, 351 injured)
  • Average deaths per civilian casualty-causing air strike: 1.3

Operation Protective Edge – July-August 2014

  • Total recorded air strikes: 328
  • Air strikes causing civilian harm: 278
  • Civilian casualties: 1,992 (701 killed, 1,291 injured)
  • Average deaths per civilian casualty-causing air strike: 2.5

Operation Wall Guardian – May 2021

  • Total recorded air strikes: 124
  • Air strikes causing civilian harm: 121
  • Civilian casualties: 1,230 (202 killed, 1,028 injured)
  • Average deaths per civilian casualty-causing air strike: 1.7

These figures show a significant escalation in the recent “Operation Swords of Iron” relative to past incidents in the same region.


AOAV’s casualty figures represent the lowest of estimations in terms of the number of people killed and injured by explosive weapon use. In an effort to quantify the explicit harm caused by specific explosive weapons, AOAV solely records incident-specific casualty figures, as reported in English-language media.


AOAV condemns the use of violence against civilians and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. All actors should stop using explosive weapons with wide-area effects where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.