Analysis of the Ratio between the Names of Terrorist Operatives Killed during Operation Pillar of Defense and Civilians Killed in Error *

Issued on: 16/12/2012 Type: Article

Overview
Main Findings

1. This study examines the names of the Palestinians killed during Operation Pillar of Defense, both terrorist operatives and non-involved civilians. The analysis is based on a variety of Palestinian sources, among them lists issued by the ministry of health of the de-facto Hamas administration during and after the operation, websites and forums of the Palestinian terrorist organizations and additional information from the Palestinian media. To complete or verify our findings we used information from Israeli security sources.

2. Regarding the overall number of Palestinians killed in the operation there are contradictions and errors in the Palestinian notices. Our own investigations led us to conclude that 178 Palestinians were killed, including those who died of their wounds after the operation ended. That is the maximum number, considering that the de-facto Hamas administration inflated the number of casualties in a variety of ways, including by adding the names of civilians who died of natural causes during and after the operation.[1]

3. Of the 178 names of Palestinians killed in the operation, we have identified 169 as belonging either to Palestinian terrorist operatives or non-involved civilians. (There are nine additional names of men whose identities could not be verified as the circumstances of their deaths are so far unclear.) Of the 169 who were identified, 101 (60%) were terrorist operatives and 68 (40%) were non-involved civilians. The civilians were killed in error during IDF strikes on the terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, which the terrorist organizations deliberately located in the midst of the civilian population, using civilians as human shields.

4. The 101 terrorist identified operatives were distributed among the various terrorist organizations as follows:

1) 71 operatives from Hamas

2) 17 operatives from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)

3) Six operatives from the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC)

4) Three operatives from Fatah

5) Two operatives from the Army of Islam

6) One operative from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)

7) One operative from a Salafist-jihadi network

5. Among the terrorist operatives killed were senior figures in Hamas and the PIJ's military-terrorist wings. The most senior and most important was Ahmed al-Jaabari, commander of Hamas' military-terrorist forces in the Gaza Strip, whose death (along with an aide) initiated Operation Pillar of Defense. Prominent among those killed were senior commanders and operatives on the ground who were members of the Hamas and PIJ rocket-launching networks and died in targeted killings or in IDF strikes on rocket stockpiles and launchers. Their deaths were an important aspect of the severe blow dealt by Operation Pillar of Defense to the rocket-launching capabilities of the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.

The Double Identity of Security Service Members and Its Significance

6. One of the most striking facts emerging from the examination of the names of the terrorist operatives killed in the operation was the double identity of members of Hamas' internal security service. Those members also belonged to Hamas' military-terrorist wing or to other terrorist organizations.

7. During Operation Pillar of Defense 25 members of Hamas' internal security services were killed. The Hamas ministry of the interior announced that 25 members had been killed, but issued 23 names. We identified two additional names. All 25 were also identified as terrorist operatives, 23 ofwhom belonged to the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and two to the PRC. The findings indicate the large number of operatives with double identities, and in our assessment indicate that the members of the internal security services should be considered military-terrorist operatives in every respect (as opposed to the Goldstone Report, which at the time considered them "civilians")[2].

Other Types of Double Identity

8. We identified additional terrorist operatives who had double identities but were not connected to the internal security services:

1) Five of the terrorist operatives who were killed also belonged to the communications and information networks of the PIJ (three operatives) and Hamas (two operatives), departments which serve the military-terrorist wings of the organizations.

2) Two of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades terrorist operatives who were killed were also religious functionaries (a muezzin and a preacher).

Comparing Operation Pillar of Defense to Operation Cast Lead with Regard to Terrorist Operatives and Non-Involved Civilians[3]

9. After Operation Cast Lead Israel conducted a comprehensive investigation of the Palestinians who were killed. The investigation was based on intelligence information cross-referenced with reports in the Palestinian media. While the information was not complete, the findings provided a reasonable picture of the numbers and identities of the Palestinians who were killed.

10. According to the findings of the Israeli investigation, in Operation Cast Lead 1,166 Palestinians were killed. Of them, 609 were terrorist operatives who belonged to Hamas' military-terrorist wing and to its internal security services. To that figure 100 operatives were added who belonged to other terrorist organizations, so that the total number of terrorist operatives involved in the fighting killed was 709. Of the 709, 232 also belonged to the internal security services of the Hamas administration. The 457 kllled who were not designated as terrorist operatives were either killed in error or their identities could not be ascertained (the minority).

11. The findings of the examination held after Operation Cast Lead indicated that at least 60% of the Palestinians killed in the fighting belonged to Hamas military and security apparatuses who were involved in fighting the IDF. That percentage (identical to the percentage of the Palestinians killed in Operation Pillar of Defense) was fundamentally different from the statistics promoted by the Palestinian human rights organizations (whose figures were adopted by the Goldstone Report). According to the (biased) Palestinian figures, only one in five of the Palestinians killed was a "fighter" (i.e., terrorist), that is, only 20% of those killed were terrorist operatives involved in the fighting.

12. The relation between the numbers of terrorist operatives and civilians killed in the densely populated Gazan neighborhoods reinforces considerablyIsrael's claim regarding the IDF's systematic efforts to minimize the harm to Palestinian civilians from within whom the fighting was waged and who were deliberately used by the terrorist organizations as human shields. (That is more striking when the Gazan arena is compared to the fighting arenas of other armies.) It also helped to prove false the claimof the Goldstone Report, which was later retracted, that Israel deliberately targeted the Gazans civilian population.

Methodological Notes

 13. Examining the names of the Palestinians killed in Operation Pillar of Defense presented methodological difficulties, primarily because of the inexact nature of the Palestinian lists issued (which contained names mentioned twice, names included by mistake, names of people who did not die in battle, etc.). In addition, the terrorist organizations, deliberately in our assessment, did not release reliable information about the overall number of terrorist operatives killed in the Israeli attacks. Sources in the Hamas administration, especially the ministry of health, issued mixed lists of terrorists and non-involved civilians without noting their identities. That pattern of manipulation, i.e. issuing the names of casualties without distinguishing between terrorists and civilians, is familiar from previous incidentsand military operations, and is meant to create the impression that many civilians were killed, in order to defame Israel.

14. As a basis for our examination we used a list of 162 Palestinians killed, prepared by the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip and published on Hamas' Felesteen website on November 22, 2012, despite the problems involved.[4] To the basic list we added names from another list issued by the ministry of health, despite suspicions about the identities and circumstances of the deaths of some of the names added to the original list. After examining names appearing twice and those of Palestinians who in our assessment did not die as a result of the IDF attacks, we concluded that the total number of Palestinian civilians and terrorist operatives who died as a direct result of Operation Pillar of Defense was approximately 178.[5]

15. The terrorist organizations issued partial and manipulated figures which reduced the number of terrorist operatives killed in the operation: Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades issued a list of 25 terrorist operativeswho were killed (of the 71 we identified) and the Palestinian Islamic Jihadreleased the names of 11 terrorist operativeswho were killed (of the 17 we identified). Mahmoud al-Zaharclaimed that during Operation Pillar of Defense 30 of the 170 killed were terrorist operatives ("shaheeds") (Alresala.net website), less than one third of the actual number of terrorist operatives killed.

16. Reducing the number of terrorist operatives killed and calling them "Palestinian casualties" to create the false impression that many civilians were killed is a familiar Hamas propaganda tactic and was also used in Operation Cast Lead. The numbers are manipulated so as not to undermine the "victory" narrative nurtured by Hamas, and also to defame and demonize Israel in international public opinion and forums (judicial, political and propaganda).

 

Sources

17. To identify the terrorist operatives who were killed we used the websites and forums of Hamas, the PIJ and the other terrorist organizationsoperating in the Gaza Strip. We also examined the social networksused by the terrorist organizations. To complete and in some cases add to the findings based on the Palestinian sources we used information from Israeli security sources.

18. However, the examination of the websites and forums used by the terrorist organizations yielded a great deal of varied information about the terrorist operatives who were killed, including pictures of most of them (73).

Appendices

19. This document has three appendices, whose information we used to reach our conclusions:

1) Appendix I: A table of names and information about the Palestinians killed in Operation Pillar of Defense listed according to terrorist operatives and non-involved civilians. It is based on the list issued by the Palestinian ministry of health with the addition of the findings of our examinations.

2) Appendix II: Pictures of 73 terrorist operatives killed in the operation, listed according to organization and based on an examination of the websites and forums of the terrorist organizations (73 pictures of the 101 terrorists killed whom we identified).

3) Appendix III: The basic list (in Arabic) of the 162 Palestinians who died in the operation, issued by the Hamas ministry of health on November 22, 2012. As noted, other names were added, either from another list issued by the Hamas ministry of health, or the names of terrorist operatives which were not included in the ministry's list.

To the Full Document in PDF Format Click Here

* The examination is updated to December 5, 2012. The findings may have to be altered, but not significantly, for example by the addition of the names of Palestinians who were wounded and died or following the receipt of additional information.

[1] There is a discrepancy of 12 names between the first basic list (162 Palestinians killed) and second (174 Palestinians killed) list issued by the Palestinian ministry of health. The discrepancy mainly concerns names which were not mentioned at all during Operation Pillar of Defense in the context of events on the ground. That leads to many questions about the identity and circumstances of the deaths of those whose names were later added to the first basic list of those who were killed,

[4] In our assessment the list was prepared hastily and negligently (we found a number of names which appeared twice, or which did not appear on another list later issued by the ministry of health. Thus there is a suspicion that as in the past, the lists were manipulated, for example by padding them with names of Palestinians who died of natural causes to give the false impression that IDF attacks killed more people than they actually did. (In one instance we found a name on the list of a Palestinian who died of a heart attack during the operation.)

[5] The number updated to December 5 is similar to other statistics issued by the Hamas' administration's ministry of health. According to a report in Hamas' Felesteen published on November 28, 2012, based on information from the Hamas ministry of health, 174 Palestinians were killed during the operation. On November 27 the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website posted a list of 175 names, also based on statistics from the Hamas ministry of health. The number we reached is marginally larger because it includes several Palestinian terrorist operatives whose names did not appear on the ministry of health's lists.

Additional Bulletins