Gaza’s Ministry of Health, which is run by Hamas, deliberately portrayed terrorists killed in fighting as non-combatants, and sometimes even as children, according to a report disclosed by the news site Israel Today.
Israel Today’s reporting is based on a systematic review of casualties performed by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC). ITIC has completed four analyses accounting for nearly 600 of those killed during Operation Protective Edge.
The third ITIC report showed that some of those killed, though listed as children, were actually adults.
For instance, Gaza’s MoH said that Abruim Jamal Kamal Netzer from Khan Younis, killed on July 18, was just 13-years-old. In reality, he was a 26-year-old militant associated with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement.
The ITIC said this was not an innocent mistake, but rather a deliberate effort to identify deceased terrorists as children.
Even classifying anyone under 18 as a child didn’t necessarily tell the whole story.
Another casualty, Wasim Reza Saleh from Khan Younis was innocently listed as a child of just 15. Analysis found that while Saleh truly was only 15, he was also an armed member of the same Fatah-affiliated terror group. This demonstrated that casualties under the age of 18 cannot automatically be assumed to be innocent civilians.
Israel Today also noted that “Hamas got wise to the fact Israel was carefully analyzing all the casualty figures and related evidence, and on August 5 issued a call via Facebook warning Palestinians to stop sharing details of deceased militants on social media.”
The ITIC’s analyses so far show that 46% of Gazans killed by the IDF in Operation Protective Edge were combatants. This percentage has held steady throughout the four analyses. This is very close to the one to one civilian to combatant ratio Israel managed during Operation Cast Lead, the lowest such ratio in the history of asymmetric warfare. It is likely that “a great many armed militants killed during the fighting in the Gaza City suburb of Shejaiya between July 19-August 1 remain buried under rubble, and therefore do not appear on any casualty lists.”
Previously, both The New York Times and the BBC did analyses of the casualties and noted that the vast majority of those killed were men, suggesting that the charge that the IDF bombarded Gaza indiscriminately was, in the words of the BBC, “premature.”
Also this week, the IDF issued a statement on Hamas’ false reporting of civilians killed:
Hamas used this deceptive strategy on Saturday after the IDF targeted Mahmoud Osama Abbas. Hamas’ interior ministry Facebook page presented Osama Abbas as a civilian (in Arabic – مواطن), but a bit of research reveals that he was a senior terrorist in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization in Gaza. Images of Osama Abbas are publicly available on the organization’s website, which refers to him as a ground commander (in Arabic – قائد ميداني) who directed several attacks against Israel.
Hamas’ social media rules issued early on during Operation Protective Edge stated that “[a]nyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine.” These rules, enforced by intimidation, were effective for portraying many terrorists as innocent civilians.
Longtime foreign correspondent Mark Lavie identified this dynamic in Why Everything Reported from Gaza is Crazy, Twisted, which was published in the August 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine. He explained that many reporters cover “the story you can easily see above ground, like destruction, misery, death and funerals, instead of digging for the real story.”
[Featured Image: المكتب الإعلامي / YouTube ]