Hamas admitted last week that between 600 and 700 of its militants were killed during Operation Cast Lead – a figure consistent with that reported by the Israel Defense Forces.

The figure is several times higher than the previous number of fatalities that Hamas claimed it sustained during the operation.

Hamas’ military wing had previously claimed that only 49 of its militants were killed during the three-week operation that the IDF launched in December 2008. Israel had put the figure at 709.

In an interview with the London-based Al-Hayat daily last Monday, however, Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad detailed the heavy price his group had paid during the war.

"They say that it was the people who were harmed in the last war," said Hamad. "Are we not part of the people nation? On the first day of the war, Israel attacked the police command and killed 250 martyrs, from Hamas and other factions."

"This was in addition to the 200-300 members of the Al-Qassam Brigade [Hamas' military wing] and 150 security personnel," Hamad added. "The rest of the fatalities were from among the civilian population."

Hamad also accused Israel of concealing the precise number of IDF troops killed during the operation.