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Public Opinion in the Aftermath of a Massive Attack

Updated: Nov 11

According to a poll conducted by the Israeli Democracy Institute on October 18-19, 2023, less than two weeks after the deadly October 7 Hamas attack, 48% of Jewish-Israeli respondents thought military planners should not "take into consideration the suffering of the civilian Palestinian population in Gaza when planning the next phases of fighting there," while another 36% responded, "not so much." (see question 15). Just under 8% thought Israeli military planners should take that suffering into account "quite a lot," while 5% said they should do so "very much."

In other words, roughly 84% were relatively unconcerned with Palestinian civilian suffering, as opposed to 13% who were concerned.

Are these responses remarkable, given the scale of the attack? `The Hamas assault killed about 1400 Israelis (mostly Jews), the vast majority of whom were civilians, and took another 240 hostages. These 1600 people represent 0.00023% of Israel's seven million Jews or 0.00017% of the country's total population of nine million. (Roughly two million Israeli citizens are Muslims, Druze, Christians, and other faiths).

Let's take the Jewish population as the denominator, as the Hamas attack was focused on that religious group. In US terms, the equivalent death toll would be 78,000 (assuming a US population of 340,637,000), or 26 times more than the roughly 3,000 Americans who died on 9/11.

When Americans were asked about the suffering of Afghan or Iraqi civilians in the aftermath of 9/11, did they respond similarly? I'll have to do the research.

But consider this: From October 7 until Nov 5, 2023, Israeli forces killed roughly 9,500 Gazans, or 0.005% of Gaza's two million inhabitants (and 0.002% of the total Gaza/West Bank population of five million). The equivalent US numbers would be 1.7 million and 681,000, respectively.

The death tolls on all sides have been staggering. These numbers will forever mark public opinion in the Israeli/Palestinian space.


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