The Israeli media began to release increasingly frequent publications on the actual casualties of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and other security, defense and law enforcement agencies during the clashes in the Gaza Strip.
The most sensational publication, causing a massive reaction especially in the Arab world and Iran, was the investigative report of the Israeli journalist Ariel Shimon, fired from Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper after his controversial publication was released. Unfortunately, the author could not find the original of Shimon’s report, even in Hebrew. However, many Arab and Iranian publications have shared the links to the alleged investigation.
According to Shimon, the IDF press service reports casualties in small portions. Moreover, it only reports KIA (killed in action) numbers. The actual number of wounded as well as losses of military and special equipment remain undisclosed. All medical institutions receiving the wounded were instructed by the IDF press service to abstain from comments.
According to the journalist, the number of Israeli military KIAs is magnitudes higher than official figures. As of December 9, the official casualties among the IDF and other security, defense and law enforcement agencies reached 418 people. Shimon claims that, as of December 9, the actual number of KIAs was 3,850 soldiers and officers.
The official number the IDF press service gave for the wounded was around one thousand. In reality though, according to Shimon, the number of wounded exceeded 7,000 people, including 3,700 irrecoverable losses, i.e. those who became disabled. Of these, more than 250 soldiers and officers went completely blind.
Over the course of hostilities, more than 500 armored combat vehicles of all types (tanks, armored personnel carriers, army vehicles) and army bulldozers were completely or partially destroyed.
Shimon believes that without the US support, Israel would have had a rough time. He accused the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government of deliberately withholding from the Israeli public the actual number of the IDF casualties in the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The data on casualties shared by a number of Arab and Iranian media with references to Ariel Shimon, are indirectly confirmed by the reports of the Israeli news website Ynet, an online version of Yedioth Ahronoth. On December 9, 2023, Ynet published information obtained from Limor Luria, head of the IDF rehabilitation department, according to which every day the department received about 60 new wounded security officers and reservists. This figure did not include IDF military personnel. This indicates that the actual figures of wounded may be higher than is officially recognized.
Luria added that over 58 percent of the wounded had severe hand and feet injuries, including those requiring amputations. Around 12 percent of injuries are damaged visceral organs, such as spleen, kidneys, and rupture of internal organs. About 7 percent of military personnel suffer from mental disorders.
The increasing casualties among the IDF personnel and security forces, and the uncertainty of the future of hostages still held by Hamas are provoking growing dissatisfaction with Netanyahu’s government among Israelis, which is starting to break through Israel’s highly disciplined media space fully controlled by the IDF command. The authorities fear that acknowledging heavy casualties inflicted on a regular army by irregular forces may raise doubts in Israeli society about the effectiveness of the established security system, which cost billions of taxpayers’ money.
Nikolay Plotnikov, Head of the Center for Scientific and Analytical Information of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Political Science, exclusively for “New Eastern Outlook”.