The UN, as usual, swallowed the Hamas line and proffered casualty figures that have absolutely no bearing on reality.
The number of Palestinians killed in Operation Cast Lead did not exceed five or six hundred, Lorenzo Cremonesi, a correspondent for Italy's Corriere della sera reported on Thursday.If the Israelis truly killed and injured as many as claimed, the Gaza hospitals would be overflowing with casualties.
Cremonesi based his report on tours of hospitals in the Gaza Strip and on interviews with families of casualties. He also assessed the number of wounded to be far lower than 5,000, the number quoted by Hamas and repeated by the UN and the Red Cross in Gaza.
"It is sufficient to visit several hospitals [in the Gaza Strip] to understand that the numbers don't add up," he wrote.
In the European hospital in Rafah, one of the facilities which would presumably be filled with wounded from the "war of the tunnels," many beds were empty, according to Cremonesi. A similar situation was noted in the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, and in the privately-run Amal Hospital Cremonesi reported that only five out 150 beds were occupied.
Cremonesi interviewed Gazans who echoed Israel's insistence of how Hamas gunmen used civilians as human shields. One Gazan recalled civilians in Gaza shouting at Hamas and Islamic Jihad men, "Go away, go away from here! Do you want the Israelis to kill us all? Do you want our children to die under their bombs? Take your guns and missiles with you."
"Traitors, collaborators with Israel, spies of Fatah, cowards! The soldiers of the holy war will punish you. And in any case you will all die, like us. Fighting the Zionist Jews we are all destined for paradise. Do you not wish to die with us?" the religious fanatics of Hamas reportedly responded.
They are not.
If the Israelis truly killed as many civilians as claimed, there would be evidence of such - the cemeteries would be overflowing with hundreds of new burials over the usual numbers.
They are not.
Of course, Hamas was using human shields and civilians did die in the conflict, but those victims were killed not by Israel but by Hamas - who put those civilians into harms way not only by carrying out a rocket war against Israel, but by purposefully using civilian areas to attack Israeli communities. Rockets fired from civilian areas, schools, and even UN facilities.
Gazan witnesses say as much, and that is undeniable. These Gazans know that Hamas would surely kill them if they say the wrong thing, so what is their rationale to lie? Many instead remain quiet because of Hamas intimidation.
The death toll in Gaza was likely no more than 500 or 600, the majority of which were Hamas thugs.
"The number of deceased stands at no more than 500 to 600. Most of them are youths between the ages of 17 to 23 who were recruited to the ranks of Hamas, who sent them to the slaughter," according to the newspaper article.Most of those killed were teenagers who Hamas armed so that they could go out with a bang.
The doctor wished to remain unidentified, out of fear for his life.
Where is the UN to investigate these claims? They'll much rather find fault with Israel since Israel isn't exactly slinking about Gaza during Operation Cast Lead without uniforms. Hamas purposefully hid their uniforms once Israel started air operations against Hamas, and only when Israel began withdrawing forces from Gaza did the uniforms come back out.
For all the talk about disproportionate force, it sure looks like Israel got their targets alright - which also explains why Hamas is busy trying to kill and intimidate collaborators. Israel had excellent intel.
This is the same kind of agitprop as the Jenin hoax, where Palestinians initially claimed that Israel leveled and killed thousands, but the real death toll turned out to be 54, with 45 being terrorists. The UN in that case also carried terrorist figures long after they had been debunked.
Once again, the UN serves up the indignation against Israel, while ignoring that Hamas initiated the conflict by firing rockets at Israel during the so-called ceasefire (broken by Hamas 5 days in) and then carried out war crimes against Gazans and Israelis alike - by firing on civilians from within civilian areas without care to protect civilians from undue casualties. Hamas purposefully sought to inflate the casualties, and yet the UN is overly concerned because Israel destroyed buildings Hamas used to carry out their war against Israel.
Israeli officials dismiss the report by the Italian paper, claiming that about 1,300 were killed, of which 700 were Hamas thugs.
The IDF's Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration has already compiled a list with 900 names of Palestinians killed during the operation, out of which 750 are believed to be Hamas operatives.UPDATE:
The IDF estimated that two-thirds of those killed were gunmen affiliated with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terror factions. At least 500 are believed to have been members of Hamas's military wing.
Hamas, defense officials said, purposely covered up the number of dead and on Sunday claimed that only 48 members of its military wing had been killed. Many bodies belonging to Hamas operatives were being stored - officials said - in the morgue in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
I think the truth is somewhere in between. I think we're going to find that most were indeed Hamas thugs and that the death toll is lower than Israel believed, but higher than the figures quoted by the Italian paper.
Where the Italian paper gets it right is that the Hamas thugs purposefully inflated the body count by using human shields, forcing attacks from civilian areas, and otherwise engaging in multiple war crimes.
Of course, the UN will claim that it's all Israel's fault, and they're already complaining and whining and seething as they've bought into the Hamas line.