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May 27, 2009

Debunking Civilian Casualty Claims in Gaza


Elder of Ziyon blog's investigation of a list of Palestinian dead during the Israeli military operation in December and January reveals that hundreds who were reported to be civilians were in fact militants. The list of 1417 Palestinian victims was published in March by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), a Gaza-based organization. By cross-checking the names on the list with other Palestinian sources, including Hamas-affiliated web sites, Elder of Ziyon was able to compile the names of 286 militants who PCHR misidentified as civilians.

Media coverage of the Israeli operation in Gaza prominently featured the accusation that Israeli forces engaged in indiscriminate and excessive violence, in some cases intentionally targeting civilians. PCHR's reports of civilian fatalities were frequently cited to substantiate this accusation. As CAMERA pointed out as early as January 21, scrutiny of PCHR's own data cast serious doubts about its accuracy. The CAMERA analysis pointed out over 20 cases of mislabeling militants as civilians and noted that 75 percent of the fatalities were young males of combat age.

The recent analysis by Elder of Ziyon delves further into PCHR's data and debunks PCHR's assertion that most members of Hamas internal security forces (policemen) were civilians. It also reveals that a number of children (aged 17 or under) were Hamas combatants - a point initially suggested in the CAMERA analysis.

While these revelations come too late to impact coverage of the fighting, it can only be hoped that responsible journalists will be less inclined to accept without scrutiny the casualty statistics and claims made by PCHR and other groups that most of the casualties caused by Israeli military action are civilians.

Posted by SS at May 27, 2009 10:36 AM


Isn't Camera falling into the same 'mistake' as so many in the MSM it so often criticizes by calling the Gazan dead militants?

Elder of Ziyon, your source, calls them terrorists.

If you are not prepared to call them terrorists, how about armed personnel, as a neutral alternative?

Posted by: deegee [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 28, 2009 03:14 PM

You have a point. Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization and its members commit and support acts of terrorism. One could argue that by joining the organization or fighting on its behalf they are terrorists. But since these fatalities occurred in Gaza and one cannot tie every armed militant to the commission or planning of terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens, "armed combatants" or "armed militants" or "armed supporters of a terrorist group" might be a more neutral term. This would be as opposed to a known planner/commander of terrorist operations or a terrorist killed while firing rockets or attempting to infiltrate into Israel.

Posted by: Steve at May 28, 2009 07:24 PM

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