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The Atlantic faces backlash for saying ‘It is possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza

May 27, 2024 at 11:12 am

Palestinians including children, injured in Israeli attacks at Nuseirat Refugee Camp, are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on May 25, 2024 [Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency]

In a recent article by The Atlantic has faced a backlash online after questioning the massive civilian death toll as a result of the US-backed, Israeli war on Gaza, and going as far as to suggest that  “it is possible to kill children legally.”

In his opinion piece for the outlet earlier this month entitled, “The UN’s Gaza Statistics Make No Sense”, staff writer Graeme Wood expressed scepticism in the UN’s figures on the death toll in Gaza, stating: “The UN numbers changed because the UN has little idea how many children have been killed in Gaza, beyond ‘a lot.’ It gets its statistics from Hamas.”

On 6 May, the UN stated that 69 per cent of the reported deaths were women and children. However, two days later, it revised this figure to 52 per cent. Despite this adjustment, the overall death toll in Gaza remains over 35,000. Of these, the UN initially reported 9,500 killed were women, and 14,500 were children. These figures were changed to 4,959 and 7,797, respectively.

“To rebut Hamas’s allegations by letting journalists see the war up close would be a calculated risk. Even when conducted legally, war is ugly,” Wood said.

However, his remarks has received a notable backlash online for saying: “It is possible to kill children legally, if for example one is being attacked by an enemy who hides behind them. But the sight of a legally killed child is no less disturbing than the sight of a murdered one.”

Since October 2023, Amnesty International says it has conducted in-depth investigations into 16 Israeli air strikes that killed a total of 370 civilians, including 159 children, and left hundreds more wounded. The organisation has found what it says is “evidence of war crimes by Israeli forces, including direct attacks on civilians or indiscriminate attacks, as well as other unlawful attacks and collective punishment of the civilian population.”

READ: Palestine presidency: ‘Israel’s massacre in Rafah challenges ICJ ruling’