JERUSALEM (JTA) — A B’Tselem report stating that more than half the Palestinian casualties during Israel’s Gaza offensive were civilians is "not based on facts," the Israeli army said.
The Israeli human rights group released a report Wednesday saying that Israel’s military killed 1,387 Palestinians during Operation Cast Lead last December and January, of which 773 were civilians, including 320 minors and 109 women older than 18.
The report said that 330 of the casualties were combatants and 248 were Palestinian police officers, most killed during aerial bombings of police stations on the first day of the offensive. The organization could not account for 36 of the dead.
B’Tselem said it arrived at the figures following months of investigation and by cross-checking with various sources. The organization called the "blatant discrepancy" between its figures and those released by the Israel Defense Forces "intolerable."
The Research Division of the IDF Defense Intelligence reported six months ago that there were 1,166 Palestinian casualties in the Gaza offensive, of which 709 were terror operatives affiliated with Hamas and other terror groups. The IDF said 295 of the dead were civilians, 89 younger than 16 and 49 of them women.
"The B’Tselem report is not based on facts or on accurate statistics," the IDF Spokesman’s Office said. "Furthermore, among its sources, B’Tselem officially states that it based its findings on cross referencing statistics from investigations of Palestinian human rights groups and various Web sites and blogs, including those of the militant wings of terror organizations and that of the Palestinian Police.
"The discrepancy in the numbers is based on the fact that B’Tselem’s sources are organizations with a vested interest, and it does not have the tools, nor the intelligence capabilities with which it can within a necessary degree of confidence know the causes of death or the affiliations of these casualties."
B’Tselem repeatedly asked the Israeli army to share its list of names of the dead in an effort to cross-check the names against the lists it had compiled. A B’Tselem spokeswoman told JTA on Wednesday that the group would revise its report were the army to release such a list. An army spokesman said the list was classified.