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Thursday, November 11, 2010

So how many were killed in Operation Cast Lead altogether?

Time magazine, in their article I linked to earlier, makes a passing comment:

Hamas suspended rocket attacks after Israel's devastating December 2008 military incursion, which killed more than 700 of its fighters, and a similar number of civilians.
This comes after Hamas themselves admitted last week that around 700 of the dead from Cast Lead were militants.

This admission shows, nearly two years after the operation, that Israel's estimate that 709 of the dead were fighters was quite accurate. Goldstone and PCHR, and HRW were all completely and provably wrong.

A ratio of 1:1 legitimate targets versus civilians in a war where the enemy hides among and disguises itself as civilian is literally unprecedented in war. It shows that the many people who airlly accuse Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza know nothing about war and are far more concerned with blaming the Jewish state for atrocities than for the rights of the civilians who were killed. They insist on a clinically clean war from only a single nation - the one nation that they want to delegitimize.

Now that the IDF figures on dead fighters have been proven correct, we need to now see if the total number of dead are closer to the IDF numbers or to the numbers given by "human rights" groups.

The IDF claims that a total of 1166 were killed. PCHR claims around 1415, of whom seven are either duplicates, blank or killed by Hamas.

At first glance, PCHR's figures seem compelling, because they list out the names of all of the dead. But there is one basic inconsistency that they never answered.

On the last day of fighting, PCHR had counted 1251 killed. Their weekly report on January 21st revised the number to 1285. (While they tried hard to document the names of the victims during the war, the names of the additional 34 were never published.)

The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced a tally of 1314 victims on January 28th, and the Al Mazen center said it was 1268.

But on March 12th, PCHR announced the final tally was 1417 (actually, a higher number, but they then revised it downward.) Al Mezan said it was 1342 on March 7th. And the PMOH raised its figures to 1440 and we already knew that they were lying

Yet nowhere do either organization document how they found the additional 80-160 people. Nowhere in their weekly reports do they mention the discovery of an additional hundred or so victims found under the rubble or discovered in hospitals.

The only hint I had found that perhaps PCHR was playing with the numbers - or that they had been mislead - was from a single, very anecdotal data point. The Palestinian Ministry of Health was keeping a tally of Gaza "victims of the siege," a list of roughly 5-10 people a week who they said died because they couldn't get adequate medical attention. As  I reported last year, the number of these "martyrs" dramatically decreased during Cast Lead - just when you would expect to have more of them.

While the numbers of "siege martyrs" is only a tiny percentage of those who die in Gaza every month, the decrease in reports of their deaths may indicate that, as Israel claimed, the discrepancy might be because of natural deaths in Gaza during the war.

To be fair, this is a very small data point, and there is no way I can prove it. But since the IDF has been vindicated in its figures of the number of terrorists killed, it is time to revisit the other number - the one that might indicate that instead of a ratio of 1:1 militants to civilians, the real ratio might be closer to 2:1, which would be an absolutely amazing achievement and prove beyond any doubt that the IDF is the most moral army in history.