The IDF has released the conclusions of its investigation of Arab deaths in the Cast Lead operation in Gaza. According to Israeli researchers, 1,166 Gaza residents were killed in Cast Lead, most of them terrorists.
More than 60 percent of those killed – a total of 709 men – were proven to be members of terrorist groups, the IDF said. Most belonged to Hamas.
A total of 295 civilians were killed in fighting, the IDF found. The civilian death toll as reported by the IDF includes all children under the age of 16 and all women killed in the fighting, as well as elderly men and women, and men aged 16-50 who did not take part in combat.
A total of 89 children and 49 women were killed in the fighting, investigators said.
The remaining 162 people are men between the ages of 16 and 50 whose affiliation remains unknown.
The IDF released a statement with the report mentioning the measures Israel took to protect Gaza civilians:
"The IDF wishes to emphasize that its objective during Operation Cast Lead was to target the Hamas terror organization and not the citizens of the Gaza Strip. It must be stressed that the fighting took place in a complex battlefield, defined by the Hamas terror organization itself. The Hamas terror organization placed the primary fighting scene at the heart of civilian neighborhoods as it booby-trapped homes, fired from schools, and used civilians as human shields.
The IDF took extensive measures in order to prevent harming uninvolved civilians, including the dropping of leaflets, broadcasting warnings in local Palestinian media, and placing numerous phone calls to homes. The procedure of making use of warning shots and the briefing of commanders to take extra precautions in populated areas were also among the measures taken by the IDF."
Hamas Disputes Numbers
Hamas disputes the numbers reported by Israel, and claims that roughly 1,400 people were killed in the fighting, most of them innocent civilians. Israeli researchers have pointed out serious flaws in the Hamas data, such as double reporting of deaths and the inclusion of senior terrorists on the list of children killed.
Hamas considers any person under the age of 18 a child victim, including teenagers who took an active role in combat.
In addition, armed Hamas officers who served in the Hamas "police force" were listed as terrorists by Israel, and counted as civilian casualties by Hamas.