IDF: B'tselem report not based on facts

Army says Web sites, blogs of terror groups among sources used by NGO for Cast Lead numbers.

kassam damage car 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
kassam damage car 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
The IDF rejected a B'tselem report on Wednesday which claimed more than half of the 1,382 Palestinians killed in Operation Cast Lead did not take part in hostilities. The army stressed that approximately six months ago, it published official statistics, gathered and confirmed by the Research Division of the IDF Defense Intelligence, citing the number of casualties during Operation Cast Lead. According to these statistics, there were 1,166 Palestinian casualties in the Gaza Strip, the majority of whom (709) were terror operatives affiliated with Hamas and other groups. In a statement, the military added that B'tselem officially stated that it based its findings on cross referencing statistics from investigations of Palestinian human rights groups and various Web sites and blogs, including those of the militant wings of terror organizations and that of the Palestinian police. "The discrepancy in the numbers is based on the fact that B'tselem's sources are organizations with a vested interest, and it does not have the tools, nor the intelligence capabilities with which it can, with a necessary degree of confidence, know the causes of death or the affiliations of these casualties," said an IDF spokesman. The army asserted that Hamas was hiding the statistics so that it could play on international public opinion and increase support for its activities. As an example, the army cited the way in which Hamas "police officers" were categorized in the report, where Hamas was presenting operatives in its military wing as police officers whose job is to enforce law and order. "This is done in order to minimize the number of casualties among its forces, while inflating the number of civilian casualties," read the statement. "By shifting public attention to the number of casualties, Hamas is diverting attention from the real issue, in which this terror organization specifically and deliberately endangered the lives of the residents in the Gaza Strip, where on the other hand, as much as was possible, the IDF sought to prevent the harm of uninvolved noncombatant civilians." The army went on to stress that the IDF embarked on Operation Cast Lead after a prolonged period of continuous rocket and mortar shell fire from Gaza population centers on southern Israeli civilian areas, stressing that terrorists used the local residents as human shields. The IDF emphasized that it took extensive measures to prevent civilian casualties, including the dropping of leaflets, broadcasting warnings in local Palestinian media and placing numerous phone calls to homes.