'Casualties higher in 2nd half of IDF Gaza op'

Eighty percent of Palestinian civilian casualties reported to have been in the second half of November's Operation Pillar of Defense.

May 9, 2013 06:16
2 minute read.
IDF soldiers on southern border

IDF soldiers on southern border 370. (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)


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The human rights organization B’Tselem on Wednesday issued a report stating that of the 87 Palestinian civilians killed in Operation Pillar of Defense, 80 percent of those fatalities occurred in the second half of the operation.

During the eight-day operation in November, the report states, a total of 174 Palestinians were killed.

B’Tselem said that of the 167 Palestinians that were killed by the IDF, 87 were civilians, 62 took part in hostilities, 7 were killed in targeted assassinations and it was unclear in 11 deaths whether they were civilians or gunmen.

Another 7 were killed by other Palestinians, all of whom had been accused of collaboration with Israel, said the report.

The report continued that it “challenges the common perception in the Israeli public and media that the operation was ‘surgical’ and caused practically no fatalities among uninvolved Palestinian civilians.”

Furthermore, the report claimed that there was a “significant difference” between the first four days and the final four days of the operation, with 80% of Palestinian civilian fatalities – 70 out of the 87 – occurring in the last four days.

B’Tselem acknowledged that the “harm caused to civilians in the course of the campaign was much less extensive than that caused in Operation Cast Lead,” and that the IDF “adopted a stricter open-fire policy and firing was more restricted and focused.”

It also acknowledged the difficulties the IDF faces in fighting an opponent that mixes in with the civilian population.

At the same time, the group said that its report “raises suspicions” of violations of international humanitarian law regarding alleged “lack of effective advance notice of an impending attack and an unacceptably broad definition of what constitutes a ‘legitimate target.’” The report states that in the early days of the operation, more gunmen were killed than civilians, whereas in the later days of the operation, many more civilians were killed.

It tries to raise questions about the necessity and quality of IDF missions during the latter days of the operation.

The report also noted that one Palestinian woman was killed by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip and that a further five Palestinians were likely, but not definitely, killed by Palestinian rockets.

Also discussed in the report were the six Israeli casualties.

The report said that four Israeli civilians were killed by rockets or shells fired from Gaza.

Three Israelis were killed on November 15, 2012, when a Grad rocket hit a home in Kiryat Malachi, and another was killed on November 20, 2012, by a mortar shell.

In addition, two members of the security forces were killed by mortar shells between November 20 and 22.

The report analyzed nine cases in which Palestinian civilians were killed or injured by the IDF – cases that the report claimed “raise suspicions” of international law violations, though it included an IDF letter that claimed to refute the allegations.

The Jerusalem Post
contacted the IDF for additional responses but had not received any by press time.

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