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Friday, April 24, 2009

Good backgrounder on Gaza casualties

Besides the research we have been doing comes this analysis by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Herzliya. I wish it had more specifics but it points to some new avenues of research.

Excerpts:
4. During Operation Cast Lead Hamas adopted the policy of concealing its own casualties to prevent morale from flagging and to reinforce the (false) impression that Israel was deliberately directing its military operations against Gazan civilians. Surfers on PALDF, Hamas's main Internet forum, were informed that it was strictly forbidden to post the names, pictures or any identifying details about “resistance” [i.e., terrorist] operatives killed or wounded until the end of the “Israeli aggression” in the Gaza Strip 3 (see the Appendix for the text of the instructions). In some instances reports were received of unofficial (and sometimes secret) and improvised burials during the fighting.

5. The policy of hiding the real number of terrorist operative casualties and issuing false reports about the number of civilians killed has continued after Operation Cast Lead . That was manifested by the creation of a false propaganda presentation of the mass killing of civilians in the Gaza Strip (the “holocaust” claimed by pro-Hamas propaganda) and the reduction or hiding of the blow dealt to Hamas's military infrastructure and its terrorist operatives. All of the above were aimed at serving the “victory narrative” which Hamas has been carefully constructing since the end of Operation Cast Lead.

6. Hamas, which controls all information originating in the Gaza Strip, issued exaggerated numbers of the number of “civilians” killed during Operation Cast Lead, while feeding the media false data and selective, biased reports about the number of armed operatives killed. That was done by lending a civilian character to security forces' operatives despite the fact that such operatives also serve in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades in unequivocally operational capacities. 4

7. The numbers of armed terrorists involved in the fighting are therefore swallowed by the general statistics, where their identity as terrorists is blurred and they are represented as civilians or innocent, harmless policemen deliberately killed by the IDF . As a result a gap has been created between the biased data provided by Hamas (which the human rights organizations base their reports on) and the aforementioned findings of the examination undertaken by IDF Military Intelligence .

8. After Operation Cast Lead the Palestinians media reported an exaggerated 1,330 deaths. 5 By the end of February the total had been inflated to 1,414 (according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights) and then to 1,452 (by a media report which originated with the Hamas de-facto administration 6). The continual increase in the numbers of the dead was not supported by reports of scores of newly-found bodies or deaths of the wounded.

9. The discrepancy between the initial and later numbers can be explained by the inclusion of those who were not actually killed during Operation Cast Lead or the addition of those who died of natural causes.