Majority of Gaza Victims Were Civilians: Rights Group

252 children among casualties of Israeli operation, group concludes
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2009 6:51 AM CDT
Palestinians children climb through the rubble of a building destroyed during the war in January 2009, at the devastated area east of Jebaliya in the northern of Gaza Strip, Wednesday, July 15, 2009.   (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
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(Newser) – The majority of casualties in Israel's operation in Gaza last winter were civilians, a human rights group has concluded, contradicting the official stance of the Israel Defense Forces. According to the NGO B'Tselem, which conducted extensive interviews and has compiled a list of victims' names, 1,387 Palestinians died in the three-week war, of whom 773 were civilians. Of those, 252 were under the age of 16—almost three times the official number.

A further 248 victims were Hamas policemen killed in early bombing raids; they are considered combatants by the IDF, but B'Tselem says they were not fighting and should be counted as civilians. The organization tells Haaretz that its researchers combed every possible source of information, both Israeli and Palestinian, but that it was refused access to the IDF's own casualty list. Nine Israelis were also killed during the operation, including three civilians.