- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 20, 2009



In “Soldiers questioned on Gaza looting” (Briefly, World, May 13), The Washington Times reported that of the 1,000 or so Palestinian Arabs killed during Operation Cast Lead, “many of them [were] civilians.”

“Many,” without qualification, implies a significant number, if not a majority, of the group in question. However, while Palestinian sources claim that most of those killed during Israel’s December-January campaign against Hamas were civilians, Israeli officials sharply disagree. As detailed by CNN and the Jerusalem Post, the Israel Defense Forces identified 295 “uninvolved” Palestinian Arabs out of more than 1,000 killed. While that is a newsworthy figure, it suggests strongly that many - in fact, most - of the Palestinian casualties were combatants.

Furthermore, of the total Palestinian fatalities, 864 were males between the ages of 15 and 40, which is military age for Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip. This is about 77 percent of the total casualties. Nevertheless, males between 15 and 40 represent approximately 25 percent of the population. If Israeli fire was indiscriminate, the percentage of males of military age killed should have been much lower, and then there would have been “many” civilians among the total casualty figure.

At the least, the claim of “many” civilian casualties should have been modified. At best, the relevant statistics indicating a majority of fatalities among Palestinian combatants should have been noted.



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