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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A note about "civilian" deaths in Gaza

As with Cast Lead, the media is relying on PCHR (and, worse, on the Hamas health ministry) to determine how many of the dead in Gaza are civilian and how many are terrorists.

Remember: PCHR only counts a person as a "militant" if he is, in their opinion, actively engaging in military activities at the time of his death.

So while I don't know about this person either way, PCHR says:
At approximately 14:10 on Monday, 19 November 2012, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a civilian car that was traveling in al-Saftawi Street in Jabalya, in which Hussam Fayez Hamdan Abdul Jawad, 32, was traveling. The car was destroyed and Abdul Jawad was killed.
Jawad may very well have been a member of a terror group, but PCHR is not going to say - he was just driving, not preparing to fire a rocket.

Since the first couple of days of the fighting, Hamas has refused to admit any casualties among its members. (Islamic Jihad right now says seven of its members were killed.)

This is exactly what happened during Cast Lead. Hamas hushed up every single terrorist death during the war, and only in the months afterwards did they slowly document on their websites the "martyrs" and the dates they were killed. In the end, hundreds of people that the PCHR called "civilians" were found out to have been terrorists.

When Hamas controls the security forces and, to an extent, the movements of the media, they control the truth.

Also during Cast Lead, as soon as the ground war started, Hamas and other terror group members took off their fatigues and continued to fight in civilian clothes - another breach of the Geneva Conventions. This further made it difficult to find out who the civilians are.

One thing is certain: the vast majority of those killed in Gaza so far have been males of fighting age. This in an area where men between 16-40 take up perhaps only 18% of the population (men between 15-64 are about   27%.)

It will again  take months to figure out the real truth about casualties. But don't trust the initial statistics - as we've seen, they are historically skewed.