B’Tselem: 63% of casualties in 2014 war were civilians
Eliyahu Kamisher, JPost, Jul 21 2016
Two years after Operation Protective Edge, a B’Tselem report said 1,394, or 63% 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 UN 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 spox Sarit Michaeli the purpose of the report is to inform the Israeli public of the war’s high death toll. 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 or location (what about date? – RB). Michaeli says the interactive map is part of larger move towards merging data and technology with user accessibility.
Our main goal is to enable the Israeli public to be informed. 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 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.
50 Days: More than 500 Children: Facts and figures on fatalities in Gaza, Summer 2014
B’Tselem, Jul 20 2016
1394, or 63%, of the 2,202 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces in Operation “Protective Edge” did not take part in the hostilities. Of these 526, a quarter of all Palestinians killed in the operation, were children under eighteen years of age. These are some of the figures published today by B’Tselem to mark two years since the operation, which took place in Jul/Aug 2014. Additionally, 17 children were killed while participating in the hostilities. For an additional three, B’Tselem was unable to ascertain whether they had taken part in the hostilities. Of the 72 Israelis killed in the operation, six were civilians (one of them a Thai national), including a four-year-old child, and 62 were soldiers killed by Palestinians. Three soldiers were killed by other soldiers, and one in an operational accident (the case of the Samson Directive – RB). B’Tselem’s data are based on a meticulous, exhaustive investigation carried out by the organization’s field researchers in Gaza, which were cross-referenced with other publicly available sources. The information is also available in an interactive format that enables searches by age, gender, location, and other criteria (above – RB). The high number of civilian fatalities, including women, children, and the elderly, casts doubt on Israel’s claim that all the targets were legitimate and that the military adhered to the principle of proportionality during the attacks and took precautions to reduce harm to civilians. While the fighting was still in progress, B’Tselem already cautioned against the predictable lethal consequences of the military’s open-fire policy, which included air strikes on homes that killed many civilians who were not taking part in the hostilities (see B’Tselem report Black Flag). Decision makers continued to apply this policy, in spite of these results. Of the Palestinians killed who did not take part in the hostilities, 180 were babies, toddlers, and children under the age of six. Another 346 were children from age six through seventeen, and 247 were women between the ages of 18 and 59. Another 113 were men and women over the age of sixty.
B’Tselem’s investigation found that 762 of the Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces were taking part in the hostilities at the time of their death, or held a continuous combat function in an armed group in the Gaza Strip. Regarding another 46, B’Tselem was unable to ascertain whether they had taken part in the hostilities. Over the course of two days that came to be known as “Black Friday” (Aug 1/2), IOF killed 207 people, including 154 civilians who were not taking part in the hostilities, in Rafah (including refugee camps Rafah, Shaburah, and Bsheit). Of the latter, 64 were children and 36 were women (over the age of 18). 50 of the Palestinians killed took part in the hostilities, including 3 children. Regarding another three, B’Tselem was unable to ascertain whether they had taken part in the hostilities. In two days of fighting in a-Shuja’iyeh neighborhood in Gaza City (Jul 19/20), IOF killed 134 Palestinians, including 78 who were not taking part in the hostilities. Of these, 26 were minors and 19 were women (over the age of 18). 55 of the Palestinians killed were taking part in the hostilities, including 2 minors. Regarding one person, B’Tselem was unable to ascertain whether he was taking part in the hostilities. The Israeli government almost totally shirked its responsibility for the massive harm to civilians in the operation, casting all blame upon Hamas. Indeed, Hamas and other armed groups operating in the Gaza Strip violated international humanitarian law, for example by aiming rocket attacks at Israeli civilians and by launching them from within densely populated areas. However, the argument that this justified any military response, regardless of the consequences, is unreasonable, as one party breaching the law does not permit its opponent to do the same. Furthermore, the argument focuses solely on the stated claims of policy-makers, which cannot be examined, while ignoring the lethal results of their actions, even though those results recurred time and again. In reality, several days into the operation, the consequences of this policy were eminently predictable. Israeli decision-makers chose to ignore this fact and continue the same policy line, making them fully responsible, both morally and legally, for the extreme harm to civilians.