BBC News – Caution needed with Gaza casualty figures

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In the Gaza conflict, most news organisations have been quoting from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which leads a group of humanitarian organisations known as the Protection Cluster.

Its recent report said that as of 6 August, 1,843 Palestinians had been killed and 66 Israelis and one Thai national since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July…

…The UN report carries a caveat with its figures: “Data on fatalities and destruction of property is consolidated by the Protection and Shelter clusters based on preliminary information, and is subject to change based on further verifications.”…

…Spokesman Capt Eytan Buchman told BBC News that “the UN numbers being reported are, by and by large, based on the Gaza health ministry, a Hamas-run organisation”.

He said that part of the reason for the discrepancy between the figures was “when militants are brought to hospitals, they are brought in civilian clothing, obscuring terrorist affiliations”.

“Hamas also has given local residents directives to obscure militant identities,” he said.

“It’s important to bear in mind that in Operation Cast Lead [the last Israeli ground offensive in December 2008-January 2009], Hamas and Gaza-based organisations claimed that only 50 combatants were killed, admitting years later the number was between 600-700, a figure nearly identical to the figure claimed by the IDF.”

In conclusion, we do not yet know for sure how many of the dead in Gaza are civilians and how many were fighters. … But it does mean that some of the conclusions being drawn from them may be premature.


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