Palestinians: 47 killed in Gaza fighting

Doctors say only half were combatants; IDF says most of the dead were fighters.

By YOAV APPEL
July 10, 2006 21:16
2 minute read.
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Palestinian health officials said Monday that 47 Palestinians had been killed in fighting since Israeli forces reentered the Gaza Strip on June 28. According to Jomaa Saqqa, a spokesman at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, about half of the 47 casualties were combatants, or members of militant organizations. Altogether, 187 people had been wounded, about 40 of them children, Saqqa said.

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A Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman also said 47 Palestinians had been killed in fighting. No official would give an exact breakdown of civilian and combatant deaths. At least two children have been killed in the fighting so far. An 11-year-old boy shot in the chest Wednesday died of his wounds Friday, and a 6-year-old girl was killed in disputed circumstances along with her mother and older brother in Gaza City's Sajayia neighborhood Saturday. Officially, the IDF's spokeswoman's office refused to provide information on the number of Palestinian dead and wounded, but Israeli military officials speaking off the record have estimated the Palestinian death toll to be around 50. According to the IDF, most of those killed have been gunmen. An Associated Press body count concurred, finding that 53 Palestinians, most of them terrorists, had been killed in 13 days of fighting. IDF sources said 80 armed Palestinians had been fired at, but that number included wounded. The differing figures have sometimes been caused by bureaucratic mismanagement, bodies moved from hospitals to morgues that are counted twice or corpses being overlooked or held in locations unknown to official spokespeople. If the IDF's and AP's counts are accurate and most of those killed were combatants, then the relatively high ratio of combatants to civilians killed after more than a week of combat in a densely populated area was a huge success for the army, said terror expert Boaz Ganor from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. Operating in such a crowded area where gunmen were hiding within a civilian population meant the chance of civilians being hit was very high, Ganor said, and the army appeared to be taking extra precautions not to harm them. More Palestinian casualties would increase international pressure on Israel to withdraw its troops from Gaza amid calls it was using disproportionate force, he estimated. Since Israel reentered the Gaza Strip almost two weeks ago, one IDF soldier was shot and killed unintentionally by friendly fire and two soldiers were wounded in shootouts with Palestinian gunmen. Two soldiers were killed and a third abducted by Palestinian gunmen in the attack on the Kerem Shalom outpost two weeks ago that sparked the invasion.

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