B’Tselem: 63% of casualties in 2014 war were civilians

High figure ‘casts doubt’ on claim that all of IDF’s targets in Gaza were legitimate, says left-wing group

Clearing the rubble east of Gaza City (photo credit: SUHAIB SALEM / REUTERS)
Clearing the rubble east of Gaza City
(photo credit: SUHAIB SALEM / REUTERS)
Two years after Operation Protective Edge, a B’Tselem report said 1,394, or 63 percent, of the 2,202 Palestinians killed by the IDF did not take part in the conflict.
This is lower than the figure cited by the United Nations and other NGOs of 70% but is still higher than Israeli intelligence estimates of 50%. Sixty-six soldiers and seven civilians were killed on the Israeli side.
The data gathered by B’Tselem, and released on Wednesday, was collected from field researchers in Gaza, cross-referenced with publicly available data.
This report is the first time B’Tselem has collected data on the war. Prior to this all casualty numbers were based on outside figures.
According to B’Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli the purpose of the report is to inform the Israeli public of the war’s high death toll.
“Our main goal is to enable the Israeli public to be informed,” she said.
In conjunction with the report, titled “50 Days: More than 500 Children,” B’Tselem released a list of Palestinian fatalities along with the cause of their death and an interactive format that maps all Palestinian deaths, enabling users to search fatalities by name, age, gender and location.
Michaeli says the interactive map is part of larger move towards merging data and technology with user accessibility.
“Regardless of your politics, B’Tselem wants the public to gain access to this information to simply understand how many people were killed.”
According to the report, 762 of Palestinian fatalities “were taking part in the hostilities at the time of their death, or held a continuous combat function.”
Out of the 2,202 figure B’Tselem cites as the total death toll, the NGO was unable to determine if 46 fatalities had partaken in hostilities.
The report goes on to blame the IDF.
“The high number of civilian fatalities casts doubt on Israel’s claim that all the targets were legitimate and that the military adhered to the principle of proportionality.”
The IDF could not be reached for comment, but in a May 2015 IDF report on the war, the army stated, “The IDF strives to mitigate the risk of harm to civilians.”
The IDF report goes on to say, “the IDF sought to achieve the goals set by the government of Israel while adhering to the Law of Armed Conflict – and in certain respects, the IDF went beyond its legal obligations.”
According to the B’Tselem report both Hamas and the IDF broke international law, however, the report places the majority of responsibility on Israel stating that the IDF “shirked” its duty to prevent large civilian casualties.