IDF Says 761 Palestinian Civilians Killed in Gaza War - Half of UN Figure

Gili Cohen
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Palestinian girls play at their family's house, that witnesses said was damaged by Israeli shelling during a 50-day war last summer, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, March 10, 2015. Credit: Reuters
Gili Cohen

The Israel Defense Forces issued Monday its first breakdown of the number of Palestinians killed during Operation Protective Edge last summer, finding that of the 2,125 Gazan fatalities 36 percent (761 people) were civilians, while 44 percent (936 people) were combatants. The rest of the fatalities were not clearly identified. Most of the armed combatants killed were Hamas fighters.

These numbers contrast with those issued by the United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which said that 1,483 civilians were killed during last summer’s fighting.

On Sunday, the Foreign Ministry issued a report that attempted to break down the identity of the Palestinians killed during Operation Protective Edge, in which it quoted an analysis by the research department of Military Intelligence from the end of April. The army refused to release the research department’s analysis, saying that it was based on classified information, but some parts were published yesterday that included the numbers cited above. It is the first time the IDF has issued any official breakdown of the dead of Operation Protective Edge.

The intelligence report said that the 761 were classified as civilians after there was no indication that they had been involved in combat, or because the army estimated they had not been involved because of their age or gender. Of the civilians killed, 369 were children under the age of 15, comprising 17 percent of all the Palestinians killed. There were also 284 women killed, the IDF said.

Of the combatants, 67 percent were Hamas fighters, 22 percent were affiliated with Islamic Jihad, and the rest were affiliated with other terror groups. Of the dead that the army has not yet been able to classify, most are men aged 16-50.

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has also been checking the names of the Palestinian dead in an effort to classify them, and issues updates on the issue from time to time. The center is basing its research on open sources, such as Palestinian newspapers and reports from the Palestinian Health Ministry and has been cross-checking the names with information gleaned from Facebook, YouTube, and other websites. In its last report in February, the center noted that an official Hamas source himself had told the Associated Press in an interview that 400 of his fighters had been killed during the war in the Strip.

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