IDF officials announced Thursday that they do not believe Hamas lied about the number of people killed in recent fighting in Gaza. A report issued by Italian journalist Lorenzo Cremonesi earlier in the day charged Hamas with vastly overstating the number of deaths in Gaza.
Cremonesi said that based on interviews with Gaza doctors, visits to Gaza hospitals and meetings with civilians he estimated that between 500 and 600 people were killed in the Cast Lead operation. IDF spokesmen said they believe that approximately 1,300 people were killed in the operation, as Hamas has claimed.
There is, however, a major difference between the casualties reported by the IDF and those reported by Hamas: the IDF believes that most of those killed were members of Hamas and at least 500 belonged to the group's armed forces, while Hamas claims that only 48 members of its armed forces were killed. Gaza Division Commander Ayal Eisenberg told a Thursday news conference, "The IDF still believes that the majority of those killed were armed, adult members of Hamas with blood on their hands."
The IDF's Coordination and Liaison Administration in the Gaza district is compiling a list of those killed to determine how many belonged to Hamas or other terrorist groups and which were civilians. The list currently contains the names of 900 victims, 750 of whom are believed to have belonged to Hamas.
The list is expected to be complete within two weeks.
IDF spokesmen explained that the estimated number of civilians killed was much higher than the actual number because many Hamas terrorists who were actively participating in battle at the time of their deaths were wearing civilian clothes. The United Nations and other international aid groups working in Gaza had accused Israel of killing primarily civilians.
In addition to charging Hamas with lying about the number of dead, Cremonesi accused the group of lying about the number of wounded and the lack of space in local hospitals. Many hospitals he visited had spare beds, he said. He also reported that Gaza civilians were afraid of Hamas, and said the group had used civilians as human shields against their will and had fired from United Nations buildings.
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