Saturday, January 10, 2009

Imagine a war in Los Angeles with armor, jets, artillery and heavily armed infantry

The IDF has been dropping leaflets in Gaza urging that civilians flee from their homes. Some people who flee their homes for other districts of Gaza find that the same warnings have been dropped in the areas where they have sought refuge. In the Lebanon war of 2006 the IDF used its warnings as a rationale for killing zones where anyone moving was considered to be an enemy.

It has frequently been noted that the people of Gaza are trapped. They have nowhere to run, but I suspect that many have no idea how densely populated Gaza really is and how difficult it is for many people to find safe shelter. Thanks to one of my bright graduate students at Boston University, I offer the following data:

Think of Gaza as a single city. Gaza's population density is variously estimated at between 3,823 persons per sq. KM and 4,270 per sq. KM. The high-end estimate of 4,270 would make it the 54th most dense city in the world, just behind Warsaw at 4,300 persons per sq. KM and only a few spots behind Tokyo/Yokohama at 4,750 persons per sq. KM. The low end estimate of 3,823 persons per sq. KM would place it just ahead of Birmingham, UK (3,800 persons per sq. KM) or Berlin (3,750 persons per sq. KM). The Gaza strip is a good deal more densely populated than the cities of Paris (3,550 persons per sq. KM), Rome (2,950 persons per sq. KM), Dublin (2,950 persons per sq. KM), Beirut (2,800 persons per sq. KM), Los Angeles (2,750 persons per sq. KM), San Francisco/Oakland (2,350 persons per sq. KM), Sydney (2,100 persons per sq. KM), and New York (2,050 persons per sq. KM). Finally, Boston, which has just 900 persons per sq. KM is a veritable park-land when compared to Gaza. The city of Tel Aviv has a population density of 5,050 persons per sq. KM, by the way.

Now imagine conducting a military campaign with field artillery, tank guns and thousands of bombs in Tokyo, Birmingham or Los Angeles. Add the fact that the people living in those cities cannot flee, but are stuck there.

Here are the links used to find the data reported here: Jewish Community Online, CIA, and City Mayors.

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