Palestinian Casualties during the Gaza Operation - Civilians or Terror operatives?
2009 April 2
Simple figures first - lengthy analyses later:
The IDF released its official numbers of the Palestinian fatalities in Gaza and updated them on 26 March: "According to the data gathered by the Research Department of the Israel Defense Intelligence, there were 1166 names of Palestinians killed during Operation Cast Lead. 709 of them are identified as Hamas terror operatives, amongst them several from various other terror organizations. Furthermore, it has been found that 295 uninvolved Palestinians were killed during the operation, 89 of them under the age of 16, and 49 of them women. In addition, there are 162 names of men that have not yet been attributed to any organization."
A few out of these women and teenage victims were actually also proven as combatants or failed suicide bombers, but their number were left among the civilians. The further 162 identified fatalities were unclassified males, the majority of whom believed to be military men. Assuming their composition of military vs. civilians being similar to the other males;
one can conclude with high probability that more than 71 % of the Palestinian fatalities in Gaza were parts of the Hamas/Palestinian terror/military and less than 29% could have been civilian victims. Though every civilian death is tragic, this is a very low civilian casualty rate in any international comparison - particularly if one considers Hamas' consistent use of its population as human shields.
These figures are very different from those provided by diverse Palestinian sources and Palestinian-leaning NGO-s, who talked of about two-third of the casualties being civilians. Ample evidence supports the IDF figures and practically none the Palestinian hearsay.
To those however, who have doubts as to which side they can believe, let's remind the figures of the famous "Jenin massacre" rumors in April 2002. Saeb Erekat - the Palestinian Authority's Minister of Truth then - talked of 3000 and days later of 500 Palestinian civilian victims in Jenin. Israel - the IDF - reported within two weeks a total 52 Palestinian dead, mostly combatants. It took the UN investigating team until August to publish its report declaring that "no massacre whatsoever was committed by Israel in Jenin", and reporting about 53 Palestinian dead - mostly combatants - thus justifying the IDF figures to the letter.
However, the Western media headlines quoted the ten-times inflated and distorted Palestinian ‘reports', at least for a few weeks, and without any loud corrections later. The worst ones in spreading Palestinian propaganda uncritically, like the BBC News, continued to spread the libelous lies about the non-existent "Jenin-massacre" as late as November, and never ever sincerely apologized.
The painful question remains open as to how such distortions of the truth about Jenin and Gaza can spread so wide, so deep and last so long. Some believe that the Israeli officialdom's and the IDF's self-restraint and caution in publishing unfinished investigation results, honest as it intends to be, are part of the story of the worldwide disinformation, by their absence for too long. The best results to any date should probably be published, although with due reservations, in order not to leave the whole stage to unscrupulous propaganda or uninhabited fantasy.