Israel’s Independence War of 1948, unbeknownst to many, took close to 10 months. The war against Hamas, which has been dubbed Israel’s Second War of Independence, is now in its third month. Most military analysts believe it will take at least three more months to do the job. Israel did not start the war of 1948 and it did not start the war of 2023.

Part of the reason Israel is now fighting its third (using troops on the ground) major war against Hamas is that it never was allowed to complete the task in 2008 and 2014. President Biden said this past week, “I want them to be focused on how to save civilian lives - not stop going after Hamas, but be more careful.” The headlines say, “US wants Israel to narrow scale of attack in Gaza.” Israel has to be allowed to do what it has to do in order to survive. Otherwise, the Hamas threats to repeat the October 7 massacre will, G-d forbid, be realized.
No army in the world is as careful as Israel’s in protecting civilians. It is the most considerate and humane army on the face of the earth. Soldiers have literally sacrificed themselves to protect civilians. This is made even more difficult because Hamas uses human shields routinely. Israel’s “civilian casualty ratio,” the ratio of civilian casualties to combatant casualties, is the best of any army. America’s civilian casualty ratio in World War II was approximately 2:1. That means that for every combatant killed, two civilians died. In the Iraq War, it is estimated that approximately 174,000 civilians were killed, with 39,900 combatants killed by America and its allies from 2003-2023. The civilian casualty ratio was a lot worse in the Iraq War, at close to 4.5 to 1. America’s war in Iraq is more comparable to Israel’s war in Gaza. Israel’s civilian casualty ratio in Gaza is far better than America’s was in Iraq. At the most, it is around 2:1 using inflated figures from the Gaza Health Ministry. It is probably closer to 1:1. America would do well to emulate Israel’s handling of civilians in a war setting of such close quarters.

No one wants to see civilians die in war. It is the greatest tragedy of all, but to single out Israel for not being focused enough on civilian lives is unfair and untrue.

Israel has its work cut out for itself. The tunnel war is the hardest type of war to fight. Israel is making steady progress. In due time, it will be victorious. Pressure from America is not helpful. Let Israel finish the job unimpeded.

Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.