Haaretz Probe: Shin Bet Count of Gaza Civilian Deaths Is Too Low

Shin Bet head: 200 of 800 killed in IDF Gaza action in last 2 years were civilians; Haaretz finds 360 innocents died.

Israeli security forces killed 810 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in 2006 and 2007, Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin reported Sunday at the weekly cabinet briefing in Jerusalem. He estimated that some 200 of those killed were not clearly linked to terrorist organizations.

However, an examination by Haaretz reveals that the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces stands at 816 during those two years, and that of them, 360 were civilians who were not affiliated with any armed organizations. Data from B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, show that 152 of the casualties were under age 18, and 48 were under the age of 14.

According to Diskin, 356 Palestinian Gazans were killed in 2006, and an additional 454 in 2007.

Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, also present at the briefing, said that "about five percent of the militants in the Gaza Strip have been killed," adding that their number today is estimated at some 20,000. He said he was pleased with the results of the fighting against militants in the Strip, noting that Israel's security forces target terrorists while the Palestinians target civilians. "This asymmetry is part of a war of attrition: Sderot's residents are still leaving the city."

Dichter went on to say that the war that is being waged against the Israel Defense Forces and Israel "is not being checked, but is actually intensifying." He added that the IDF's modus operandi in Gaza must be changed with the aim of ending the war against the terror organizations there.

Minister and former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon disagreed with Dichter. "We should [continue to] pursue the same policy in Gaza, which is so far proved effective in combating Hamas."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak concurred with Ayalon.