Is Israel Committing Genocide in Gaza? Part I


You have probably heard the claim that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. News pieces, social media posts, and protests around the world claim Israel is intentionally targeting innocent civilians in Gaza. South Africa took Israel to the International Criminal Court with these accusations, and Brazil’s president likened Israel’s motives to “when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”1 Are these claims true? Is Israel committing the horrific crime of genocide in Gaza?

What is genocide?

The term genocide was developed in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish jurist, to describe the Nazi atrocity of the Holocaust, the widescale slaughter of six million Jewish people during World War II.2 Four years later, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) defined the crime of genocide as follows:3

Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.4

Accusers of Israel’s actions in the Israel-Hamas War claim that genocidal intent is present as evidenced by widescale destruction of civilian areas in Gaza, a high number of casualties, and a humanitarian crisis. In this two-part article series, we will examine each of these claims and show why we believe Israel is waging a just war against Hamas while trying to protect, not destroy, Gaza’s civilian population.

Claim: Israel intends to eradicate Gaza’s civilian population.

After Hamas’ brutal attack on innocent civilians in Israel on October 7—slaughtering more than 1,200 Jewish Israelis and foreigners and kidnapping more than 240 hostages—Israel justly announced war on Hamas. Israel’s goals are limited: to destroy Hamas, the terrorist group that has vowed to commit the atrocities of October 7 “again and again” until Israel is annihilated, and to bring back the Israeli hostages.5 Israel has made clear it has no desire to permanently occupy Gaza or displace or destroy its civilian population.6

Those who claim Israel’s true intention is to eradicate Gaza’s civilian population ignore three important facts: Hamas’ abhorrent use of human shields in warfare, Israel’s extensive efforts to diminish civilian casualties, and Israel’s efforts to address humanitarian hardships in Gaza despite Hamas’ attempts at obstruction.7 We will provide evidence of each of these facts throughout this article series.

Claim: The amount of Palestinians Israel has killed in Gaza amounts to genocide.

The death of any innocent civilian in war is tragic, and we should mourn and pray for innocent lives to be protected. However, accusing Israel of genocide because of the death count provided by Hamas is troublesome for many reasons.

  • The number of casualties comes from the “Gaza Health Ministry,” run by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist group. That should at least give us pause. Would we trust the death-toll figures of ISIS or Al Qaeda during previous American and British operations?
  • Hamas reports its numbers within minutes of an Israeli attack, before it even has had time to investigate the scene and produce accurate numbers.8
  • Hamas does not differentiate between civilians and Hamas combatants. At least one third of those killed were Hamas fighters.9
  • In this war, the combatant to civilian death toll is unprecedently low, revealing the great lengths to which Israel has gone to prevent civilian casualties, despite the fact Hamas has embedded itself within Gaza’s civilian population. According to the United Nations, the normal ratio in war is 1:9. That means for every nine civilians killed, one combatant is killed. The combatant-to-civilian death ratio in Gaza is less than 1:2.10
  • Hamas does not differentiate between those killed by the Israel Defense Forces and those killed by Hamas fire. For example, thousands of Hamas’ own rockets have misfired and landed within Gaza, indiscriminately harming and killing civilians.11
  • Hamas’ unlawful use of human shields turns civilian centers into legitimate military targets and puts civilians at risk. Hamas has entrenched itself within Gaza’s civilian population, hiding in and firing from hospitals, mosques, schools, and homes, in grave violation of international law. Israel has compiled extensive photo, video, and satellite evidence of Hamas’ use of civilian centers for terror and warfare. Just a few examples include the hiding of weapons in incubators in Gaza’s hospitals, the hiding of projectiles under children’s bedrooms, and the building of an extensive system of tunnels underneath Gaza’s hospitals and other civilian structures.12
  • Israel has gone to great lengths to evacuate and warn civilians in Gaza ahead of attacks—measures recognized by international humanitarian law as showing intent to preserve a civilian population during war, rather than to destroy it. Israeli lawyer Galit Rajuan explains:

To date, the IDF has dropped millions of leaflets [in Arabic] over areas of expected attacks with instructions to evacuate and how to do so, broadcast countless messages over radio and through social media, warning civilians to distance themselves from Hamas operations and made over 70,000 individual phone calls, including to occupants of the targets, warning them of impending attacks. This requires time. It requires resources and intelligence, and the IDF invests all of these to save civilian lives.13

Israel routinely sacrifices military advantage in exchange for civilian safety—even though it means providing Hamas with advanced knowledge of when and where it will attack.

Unequal Weights and Measures

Those who claim Israel is committing genocide in Gaza employ unequal weights and measures. They overlook Hamas’ own genocidal intent—Hamas has a publicly stated goal to annihilate Israel—and its use of human shields, in violation of international law, while condemning the only democracy in the Middle East.

The death of civilians—one of the main points wielded by Israel’s critics as “evidence” of genocidal intent—is a direct result of Hamas’ war crimes of embedding itself within Gaza’s civilian population. As Tal Becker, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ legal advisor, explains:

Sadly, the civilian suffering in warfare is not unique to Gaza. What is actually unparalleled and unprecedented is the degree to which Hamas has entrenched itself within the civilian population and made Palestinian civilian suffering an integral part of its strategy. . . . This is not an occasional tactic. It is an integrated, pre-planned, extensive, and abhorrent method of warfare, purposely and methodically murdering civilians, firing rockets indiscriminately, systematically using civilian sensitive sites and civilian objects as shields.14

Yet, even while Hamas shows its complete disregard for its own population, Israel has exerted substantial efforts to try to mitigate civilian harm, as we have covered in this article. In part two, we will cover the widescale destruction in Gaza and address Israel’s attempts to address humanitarian hardships, despite Hamas’ attempts at obstruction.


  1. “Israel incensed after Brazil’s Lula likens Gaza war to Holocaust,” Reuters, February 18, 2024,
  2. What Is Genocide?” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, accessed February 26, 2024,
  3. “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” The United Nations, accessed February 19, 2024,
  4. Ibid., emphasis added.
  5. Jesse O’Neill, “Hamas official vows to repeat Israel attacks ‘again and again’ until it’s destroyed,” New York Post, November 1, 2023,
  6. Tal Becker, “Israel defends itself against genocide case brought to ICJ by South Africa,” DW News, January 12, 2024, educational video, 2:03-33:50,
  7. Galit Rajuan, “Israel defends itself against genocide case brought to ICJ by South Africa,” DW News, January 12, 2024, educational video, 1:45:27- 2:10:48,
  8. Yaakov Katz, “A More Accurate Accounting of the War in Gaza,” Newsweek, March 19, 2024,
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Tal Becker, “Israel defends itself against genocide case brought to ICJ by South Africa,” DW News, January 12, 2024, educational video, 2:03-33:50,
  12. Galit Rajuan, “Israel defends itself against genocide case brought to ICJ by South Africa,” DW News, January 12, 2024, educational video, 1:45:27-2:10:48,
  13. Ibid.
  14. Tal Becker, “Israel defends itself against genocide case brought to ICJ by South Africa,” DW News, January 12, 2024, educational video, 2:03-33:50,