Israel’s military has officially released the count of Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza to be 121, but that is probably far lower than the actual number, according to anecdotal evidence and estimations from Hezbollah.
As the Israeli military’s ground campaign in the battered and encircled enclave approaches its second month, this is a topic that many people continue to ponder.
If the army is taking comparatively few casualties while dealing massive casualties to Palestinian civilians, this indicates that Israel is making good progress toward both its stated and unstated objectives of overthrowing Hamas, capturing Gaza, ethnically cleansing its 2.3 million inhabitants, and reconstructing the Gush Katif settlement bloc.
However, if the occupying force is losing a lot of soldiers, this may mean that the Israeli military and political establishment will have to call off their genocide campaign early on, using the White House’s fictitious external pressure as justification.
Secrecy surrounding Israeli losses
On December 17, Israel’s military declared that since the start of its belated ground campaign on October 27, when tanks and infantry started to advance into Gaza’s cities and camps for refugees, 121 troops had died.
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However, since Israel’s military goes to considerable measures to conceal its combat losses, ascertaining the actual number of Israeli troop casualties has always been infamously challenging. This concealment is best illustrated by a recent conflict between Israel’s renowned Golani Brigade and Hamas.
Before leading his troops on a ground operation in the fabled Shujaiyya neighborhood in northern Gaza—which aptly means “courageous”—Israeli Lt. Col. Tomer Grinberg, commander of the Golani Brigade’s 13th Battalion, boasted, “We are heading to the most difficult and deepest place with a large number of enemy fighters.”
He then added, “I promise you a resounding victory.”
But Grinberg has passed away.
Israeli officials claim that during the operation on December 12, Hamas gunmen ambushed Grinberg and nine other Golani soldiers, resulting in their deaths.
Fearing they would be pulled into a tunnel, other soldiers in the brigade tried to rescue the four wounded men from the combat. Both the second group and the third group, which were also attempting to evacuate the injured, were struck by explosives.
Following the conflict, Hamas released a warning statement.
“The longer you stay there, the greater the bill of your deaths and losses will be, and you will emerge from it carrying the tail of disappointment and loss, God willing.”
Resistance claims a higher soldier toll
However, there is strong evidence to suggest that the nine men the army declared were not the number of soldiers who died beside Grinberg in Shujaiyya.
Retired Israeli Colonel Miri Eisin, a security specialist, told CNN that the attack on December 12 was especially traumatic because so many of the victims were senior officers:
“We’re hurting today…It’s always hard when soldiers are killed, but when it’s this level of command, it hits you in the gut. These are commanders that commanded hundreds of soldiers.”
Because of this, one ex-US soldier questioned X whether Israel was concealing the actual number of soldiers that were killed in the ambush. “Where are all of the lower enlisted, corporals, and privates?”
The answer comes from Hamas through its armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.
About the losses confirmed by the Israeli army, the Qassam Brigades announced that 11 troops, including members of a rescue team, had been killed in Shujaiyya on December 12.
However, Qassam claims that on the same day, its fighters also killed or wounded ten soldiers east of Khan Yunis, twenty more soldiers who were trapped inside a building in Gaza City’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, and fifteen more soldiers who attacked them at their makeshift base at the Abu Rashid Pool.
Censorship on the press and hospitals
Tel Aviv, which prides itself on being “the only democracy in the Middle East,” uses military censors to keep a close rein on information about military casualties. They also govern what the press is allowed to print about matters of national security, including army injuries and deaths.
“Hundreds of media organizations are typically bound by the security establishment’s declared human casualties, and they are permitted to operate essentially by this regulation. No one challenges the fact that there is only one source of deaths, as Hassan Abdo documented earlier this year.
This is because, according to Abdo, Israeli soldiers are unbeatable and “do not fall victim to a weak, primitive opponent.”
This is “one of the main pillars of the Zionist project based on the tripartite of security, immigration, and settlement,” he added.
Israel is glorifying war porn using the telegram channel 72 Virgins, an uncensored channel that the Influencing Department of the IDF Operations Directorate administers.
According to The Cradle, Israeli soldiers have a peculiar propensity to perish in “accidents” during times of increased conflict with the Palestinian resistance, including vehicle accidents, plane crashes, suicides, gas leaks, and even falls from balconies. This tendency existed even before the start of the war on October 7.
Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, however, destroyed this unbeatable image when Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups emerged from the Gaza Strip to assault Israeli military bases and settlements (kibbutzim), which were brutally maintaining a 17-year siege on the small and impoverished enclave.
Hamas killed forty-one soldiers from Grinberg’s Golani brigade alone during Al-Aqsa Flood in significant confrontations at the Nahal Oz and Re’im military facilities.
Hezbollah’s estimates and questions from within
Not only did a significant battle occur at the Nova music festival, which is located only a few kilometers away from the Re’im facility, but Israel also says that Hamas committed a massacre there. 58 Israeli police were slain at Nova, including members of the Border Police’s special combat counter-terror teams, known as Yamam, who were the first to react to the attack.
An Israeli police inquiry into what happened at Nova states that “the terrorists would have been on their way to… Tel Aviv in 40 minutes” if there had not been a significant police presence at Yad Mordechai, some thirty kilometers to the north.
Therefore, to preserve the illusion of an overwhelming military presence in the area, it is more important than ever for the occupation state to conceal the full extent of its losses in both the battle with Hezbollah and the fight against the Palestinian resistance in Gaza.
The official toll of 115 Israeli soldiers killed in the combat in Gaza and around the Lebanese border after October 7 is probably far lower than the actual number, according to anecdotal evidence and estimations from Hezbollah. There is a notable disparity in reports from various sources, with some cases of mass casualties not being formally recognized.
According to the Lebanese resistance movement, at least 35 Israeli soldiers have died and 172 have been injured as a result of its strikes against settlements and military bases in northern-occupied Palestine.
According to information released by the Israeli army, 19 people had died in Gaza in just the first week of conflict. Nine troops were slain in a single attack among them. Using an anti-tank missile, Hamas attacked the “Namer” armored personnel carrier carrying the soldiers to combat.
Seven of the fallen troops were 20 years of age or younger, which appears to validate the belief that Israel is pitting inexperienced fighters against battle-hardened Hamas terrorists who are driven by a cause they fervently believe in—resistance to occupation.
However, the occupying army spokesperson’s section soon discovered that such announcements of mass soldier execution were not appropriate.
Israeli rabbi Baruch Rosenblum recounted an army incident from the second week of the military battle in Gaza, told by a senior officer. The official clarified that the majority of the combat occurs at night and that Hamas had murdered 36 soldiers in a single operation.
The rabbi clarified that three Namer armored trucks, each carrying twelve troops, were ambushed by Hamas and set ablaze. The army headquarters observed, through a live drone feed, as the soldiers got out of their trucks and Hamas used anti-tank weaponry to eliminate them all.
The episode was never made public by the army or covered by the Israeli media. The senior officer declined to give the rabbi his identity “to avoid arrest for revealing state secrets.”
During the third week of the ground operation on November 18, David Oren Baruch, the director of Mount Herzl Military Cemetery, shared another anecdote that suggested the number of soldiers killed was significantly more than what was made public.
“We are now going through a period where there is a funeral every hour, every hour and a half,” he disclosed.
“I was asked to open a large number of graves. Only in the Mount Herzl cemetery did we bury 50 soldiers in 48 hours,” Baruch explained further.
Military control of the narrative
The suspicion that the Israeli military is underreporting is heightened by their unwillingness to provide information about the number of injured soldiers.
In contrast to previous battles, the Israeli military had declined to comment on the amount of casualties in Gaza. Finally, on December 10, right before Haaretz was about to release its report on the number of soldier casualties based on hospital sources, this changed.
Haaretz noted “a considerable and unexplained gap between the data reported by the military and that from the hospitals.” The number of injured soldiers was “twice as high as the army’s numbers,” according to hospital data that the outlet was able to get.
The army spokesperson’s section has members who “are in the hospitals around the clock,” according to the Israeli newspaper, which also emphasized the military’s strict supervision over the information released by the hospitals. They have to approve all press releases about injured soldiers and responses to questions from the media.
On December 9, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth published a similar story, stating that “the cumulative numbers since October 7 are astronomical: More than 2,000 soldiers, policemen, and other members of the security forces have been officially recognized as disabled.” Additionally, “every day, about 60 new wounded are received only by the rehabilitation department.”
“We have never been through anything even similar to this,” explained Limor Luria, head of the rehabilitation department at the Ministry of Defense.
“More than 58 percent of the wounded who are taken in by us have severe injuries of arms and legs, including those that require amputations. About 12 percent are internal injuries – spleen, kidney, tearing of internal organs. There are also head and eye injuries.”
The article also stated that Israel is dealing with “a tsunami of trauma” in addition to hundreds of horrifying bodily wounds. “I sat with a fighter who took three bullets. A physically torn person, a very serious injury,” Luria added, “but his main struggle is with the sights he saw.”
Elisha Madan, a wounded soldier, told the assembled throng about how he saw his comrades slaughtered right before his eyes. “I returned from the dead by myself. I was close to death, and my team perished as well. Sitting in his wheelchair, Madan stated, “I survived because of your prayers.
‘All warfare is based on deception’ – Sun Tzu
Since October 7, virtually every aspect of the events of that day and the ensuing conflict has been misrepresented by the Israeli military leadership.
They covered up the burning alive of their soldiers and civilians with Apache helicopter and tank fire, they lied about Hamas decapitating babies, and they still lie about acting as though they care about the safety of Palestinian civilians, whom they have been bombing mercilessly for months under the flimsiest pretense that they are Hamas fighters and infrastructure.
Consequently, there is good reason to doubt the accuracy of the information provided by the US-backed occupation force, even though it is hard to determine the precise number of Israeli soldiers lost in combat with the Palestinian resistance.