Monday, February 02, 2009

Blowing apart "official" Gaza casualty figures

CAMERA has been taking apart the weekly PCHR casualty reports in Gaza and finding that - despite its seemingly comprehensive nature, with names and ages listed - it is woefully inaccurate.

This information is extremely important and needs to be disseminated. Here is their summary and some notable parts of their analysis:
• By cross-checking with other sources, CAMERA has identified a number of Hamas fighters and members of other Palestinian terrorist groups who were either misclassified by PCHR as civilians, not identified as combatants, or omitted entirely from their tabulations. This raises serious questions about the accuracy of PCHRs casualty statistics.
PCHR represents a partisan source that favors Hamas over Israel. This is evidenced by the terminology and tone it uses in its reports - for example, labelling the Israeli Defense Forces as the "Israeli Occupation Forces" and describing Israeli military operations as "war crimes." Despite PCHR's clear bias, its data is widely cited by the media.

• An analysis of the fatalities by age and gender shows that the majority of civilian fatalities recorded by PCHR are males between 15 and 40 years old, the same age profile as the combatants. This also should raise concern that significant numbers of combatants may have been misclassified as civilians.
• Out of 1285 fatalities, at least 950 were males aged 15 or higher. While males over age 15 make up approximately 25 percent of the Gaza population, they made up over 74 percent of the fatalities.

PCHR records 281 child fatalities to January 21. But it gives specific age and gender information for only 253. Of these 253, 57 (23 percent) are 15 -17 year old males. Considering that this age group accounts for less than 8 percent of the under-18 population, 15-17 year old males are overrepresented as fatalities. Since Palestinian terror groups are known to have used teenagers from this age category to carry out suicide bombings, it is not unreasonable to suspect that a number of these teenage fatalities resulted from them having participated in combat.
Another example of how "children" are misrepresented can be seen from a list of "child" casualties from Al Jazeera (h/t Henrik). In a January 15th report of child victims, listed by name and age, out of 217 listed, 22 were adults by any definition (18 years old) ;70 were males above 15.

Also, keep in mind that we have no idea whether those executed by Hamas are included in these counts. In addition, we do not know how many Gazans were killed by Hamas fire aimed at the IDF, nor how many were killed by secondary explosions of Hamas munitions when Israel targeted weapons stores or terrorists. CAMERA also points out that quite a few of the civilians were killed when Israel targeted specific terrorists at locations that Israel warned the residents to leave, including family members who were forced to stay with their terrorist relatives.

I would also like to point out that the "objective" PCHR has as of yet refused to issue a report on casualties from Hamas attacks on Fatah and syspected "collaborators," information that PCHR pretends to keep track of and that other Gaza human rights organizations have publicized and criticized. The PCHR is taking a decidedly pro-Hamas stand in its choice of how to present its statistics, and this needs to be exposed to the Western reporters who are happy to parrot their seemingly comprehensive figures.