War of the Casualties: The PIJ reported that 123 of its operatives were killed in Operation Protective Edge, including several senior commanders. Hamas continues its policy of concealing the number of casualties*

PIJ announcement about its achievements in the war. The announcement (marked by a red rectangle) reports the deaths of 123 operatives (Al-Quds Brigades website, August 29, 2014).
PIJ announcement about its achievements in the war. The announcement (marked by a red rectangle) reports the deaths of 123 operatives (Al-Quds Brigades website, August 29, 2014).


1.   On August 29, 2014, three days after the announcement of the ceasefire that ended Operation Protective Edge, the PIJ reported that 123 operatives of the organization were killed in the operation[1] (Al-Quds Brigades website, August 29, 2014). The organization also published photographs of the 96 operatives who were killed, some of whom held senior military positions (see Appendix A). On September 9, 2014, it was reported that another casualty of the organization had died in an Egyptian hospital (Al-Quds Brigades website, September 9, 2014). However, in our assessment, there is still a gap between the number of fatalities reported by the PIJ and the actual number of fatalities, which is a few dozen higher, in our estimation.

2.   The PIJ’s practice of publishing the number of those killed and emphasizing its senior military operatives who were killed (and comparing them with Hamas officials who were killed in the war) is part of the propaganda campaign, which is designed to highlight the important role played by the organization in the fighting and its military "achievements". Thus, for example, the organization claimed (exaggeratedly) that during this campaign, it fired 3,249 rockets and mortar shells at Israel; killed 30 IDF soldiers; was the first organization to launch rockets deep into Israel (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Dimona) and operated advanced weapons (such as Fajr 5 long-range rockets and Kornet anti-tank missiles).

Poster illustrating the PIJ’s achievements: the map indicates rockets being launched from the Gaza Strip and landing in Jerusalem, Dimona, Netanya and Tel Aviv (Al-Quds Brigades website, August 29, 2014)
Poster illustrating the PIJ’s achievements: the map indicates rockets being launched from the Gaza Strip and landing in Jerusalem, Dimona, Netanya and Tel Aviv (Al-Quds Brigades website, August 29, 2014)

3.   Conversely, Hamas still continues to conceal the number of its casualties, which is estimated by the ITIC at hundreds of operatives and, in our opinion, exceeds 500. This despite the fact that Hamas pays a political and image-related price for this vis-à-vis the PIJ, which emphasizes its part in the war, and vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority, which exploits the concealment policy to challenge Hamas. This is part of Hamas’s political and media strategy, which prioritizes the assimilation of the (false) message that the vast majority of those killed were civilians, a message used in its legal-political campaign against Israel on the day after.

Estimation of the PIJ’s casualties

4.   In our estimation, the number of PIJ fatalities is several dozen higher than the figure that was published, and may reach 150 to 170. There are several possible reasons for the disparity between the figure published by the organization and our above estimation: First, the non-inclusion of PIJ members who are not clearly identified with its military-terrorist wing (the Al-Quds Brigades) in the number of fatalities. These individuals may have operated concurrently in the ranks of other groups and organizations, or even independently, and for the time being their dual affiliation has not been revealed; Second, the cautious behavior of the organization, which does not want to unduly challenge and embarrass Hamas in light of the concealment policy that the latter has adopted; Third, problems of identifying the dead and missing, especially those whose bodies are still buried under the rubble of houses or collapsed tunnels. In addition, more casualties who died of their injuries may be added to this list. In the project examining the names of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge, 52 names of PIJ operatives have been identified to date (out of nearly one-third of the total number of fatalities).[2]

5.   The Al-Quds Brigades website published a collection of 119 photos and names of PIJ fatalities. Out of this list, 96 dead operatives have been identified, some of them holding senior military positions (see Appendix). Until recently, the PIJ refrained from formally and systematically publishing photos of its fatalities. However, photos and death notices have appeared on various websites and social networks, on an individual and informal basis.

6.   At this stage, these are still only general estimates. The ITIC’s examination of the names of the casualties in Operation Protective Edge on an individual basis is still in progress. On completion of the examination, it will be possible to achieve a more accurate organizational segmentation of the fatalities and the proportion of war casualties of each of the various terrorist organizations.

Hamas’s policy of concealment is still continuing.

7.   Unlike the PIJ, Hamas still adheres to its policy of concealing the extent to which its operatives were hit by the IDF. This policy is designed to prevent damage to the image of the “victory” and to reinforce the (false) propagandist message that Israel indiscriminately harmed innocent civilians, a message designed to serve Hamas’s political, media and legal campaign on the day after. This policy was reflected in the guidelines issued by Hamas and the Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip prohibiting the posting of pictures, names or details of those killed in the “resistance” until the end of the war. Even though the fighting is over, and even though Hamas announced that it wouldsoon publish information about its losses, in practice there has been no change in Hamas’s policy of concealment.

8.   Despite the importance of the PIJ, there is no doubt that Hamas bore the brunt of the fighting in Operation Protective Edge and sustained far more casualties than the PIJ. The number of Hamas operatives killed is a few hundred (more than 500, in our assessment), even though Hamas is careful not to publish information supporting this. In our assessment, the ratio between Hamas’s fatalities and the PIJ’s is 1:3 or even 1:4 in favor of Hamas. However, this estimate must be verified. On completion of the individual examination of all those killed in the operation, it will be possible to achieve a more accurate segmentation of the number of fatalities in each organization and to characterize their positions.

9.   In any case, at this stage, Hamas's policy of concealment poses a difficulty in the internal Palestinian arena, which its opponents are quick to take advantage of. Thus, for example, Abu Mazen made manipulative-propaganda use of Hamas’s policy at a press conference held in Cairo (September 7, 2014). He stated, among other things, that Hamas claimed that only 50 of its men were killed, and that the rest of the dead are civilians (Note: This figure is completely unfounded). He said that more than 120 youths were murdered during the fighting because they violated thecurfew or house arrest imposed on them. He also stated that about 30-40 people were executed (i.e., by Hamas) during the operation. In addition, Abu Mazen claimed that 861 Fatah members were killed during the operation (Wafa News Agency, Paltoday, September 6, 2014). Note: we feel that the number of Fatah fatalities is exaggerated and, in our assessment, is designed to highlight the magnitude of Fatah’s sacrifice and losses versus the small number of Hamas operatives killed. In our assessment, the actual number of Fatah operatives killed during the fighting is dozens and is much lower than the number of fatalities sustained by Hamas and even by the PIJ.

10.   Hamas, on its part, is aware of the propaganda use made by the Palestinian Authority and the PIJ, each according to its needs, of Hamas’s failure to publish the number of fatalities. In our assessment, Hamas’s failure to change its concealment policy, despite the political and image-related price that it pays in the intra-Palestinian arena, stems, first and foremost, from prioritizing the political, media and legal campaign against Israel on the day after. However, in order to address the image-related challenge posed by the PIJ and the Palestinian Authority, Hamas recently began to publish photos of meetings held by its senior official in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya, with the families o

Appendix A
PIJ operatives killed in Operation Protective Edge (According to the Al-Quds Brigades website, September 10, 2014)

1.   The website of the Al-Quds Brigades (the PIJ military wing) recently published a collection of photos of the organization’s operatives killed during Operation Protective Edge. The collection of photos comprises a total of 119 photos of uniformed operatives (most of them in a similar format) with the goal of reinforcing the image of an orderly and organized military infrastructure. Some of them include two or more photos documenting the same operative on a number of occasions. Out of the collection of photos that were published, we were able to identify 96 dead operatives, including three operatives whose photos were published without their names.

2.   Among the PIJ operatives killed in fighting, five senior military operatives stand out:

A.  Salah Abu Hassanein (Abu Ahmad) – senior operative in the PIJ military wing. He was a Member of the Military Council of the Al-Quds Brigades.He also served as Head of the PIJ Military Media unit in the Gaza Strip. Killed in an Israel Air Force attack on his house in Rafah on July 25, 2014, along with his two children, Abd al-Aziz and Abd al-Hadi (Al-Quds Brigades website, July 25, 2014). Upon his death, a Facebook page was created in memory of “The Shahid, Commander Salah Abu Hassanein (Abu Ahmad),” commemorating him through various pictures and posters about his life. The Facebook page also includes photos of Abd al-Aziz Abu Hassanein, one of Salah Abu Hassanein’s sons, who was also killed in the attack. The photos show his son holding guns and an RPG launcher, probably during his participation in one of the summer camps held by the organization in Rafah (Facebook page of the Shahid, Commander Salah Abu Hassanein – Abu Ahmad, September 8, 2014). Publishing images of children and teenagers holding weapons is common practice in the Gaza Strip and in Palestine in general, as part of the assimilation of the message of the continuation of the military-terrorist campaign (the so-called resistance) against Israel by the younger generation. 

B.  Danial Kamel Mansour (Abu Abdallah) – served as head of the PIJ’s military wing in the northern Gaza Strip.He was a member of the Military Council of the Al-Quds Brigades and was also in charge of its intelligence and information collection network in the Gaza Strip. He was killed on August 4, 2014, in an Israel Air Force attack on the home of the Najam family in Jabaliya (Al-Quds Brigades, Dunya al-Watan, August 4, 2014).

C.  Sha’ban Suleiman al-Dahdouh (Abu al-Majd) – senior battalion commander in the PIJ’s Gaza Brigade. Served as commander of the Al-Quds Brigades battalion in Gaza’s Zeitoun neighborhood. Killed on July 21, 2014, in an Israel Air Force attack on Gaza City (Ma’an News Agency, Firas, July 21, 2014).

D.  Mahmoud Awad Ali Ziadeh (Abu Awad) – senior commander in the PIJ military wing. Served as battalion commander in the organization’s northern Gaza Strip brigade (the Fathi Shiqaqi Facebook page, July 23, 2014). Killed on July 23, 2014, in an IDF attack on his home in the Jabaliya refugee camp (Paltoday, July 23, 2014).

E.  Hafez Hamad (Abu Amir) – served as commander of the organization’s military wing in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip.Killed on July 8, 2014, in an Israel Air Force attack on his home (Paltoday, July 8, 2014).

Appendix B
Photos of PIJ operatives who belonged to the Central Gaza Strip Brigade and were killed in Operation Protective Edge (According to the Al-Quds Brigades website, September 11, 2014)

1.   On September 10, 2014, PIJ members held a round of visits with the families of military operatives in the organization’s Central Gaza Strip Brigade who were killed in Operation Protective Edge. During the visits, signs with pictures of the dead were waved. In this context, it was reported that the Central Gaza Strip Brigade lost 14 operatives during the operation. All the operatives appear in the collection of photos and names posted on the military wing’s website (as shown in Appendix A).

2.   Below are details of the names of the military operatives in the Central Gaza Strip Brigade, listed by battalion (the Al-Quds Brigades website, September 11, 2014):

a)  Mohammad Mahmoud al-Qadim – Maghazi and Wadi Salaqa Battalion

b)  Abdallah al-Buheisi – Deir al-Balah Battalion

c)  Alaa Hamad Khattab – Deir al-Balah Battalion

d)  Naim Mazid – Deir al-Balah Battalion

e)  Osama Abu Ma’la – Nusseirat Battalion

f)   Kamal Abd al-Karim al-Loh – Deir al-Balah Battalion

g)  Mohammad Atwa Khattab – Deir al-Balah Battalion

h)  Bassel Walid al-Tallaa – Nusseirat Battalions

i) Abdallah Suheil Abu Shawish – Nusseirat Battalion

j) Jum’a Ibrahim Matar – Nusseirat Battalion

k)  Omar Taysir Abu Nada – Nusseirat Battalion

l) Hael Shahada Abu Dahrouj – Nusseirat Battalion

m) Adam Ahmad Khattab – Deir al-Balah Battalion

n)  Mahmoud Ahmad al-Attar – Deir al-Balah Battalion

[*] Further to the ITIC Information Bulletin from August 10, 2014: “The War of the Casualties: During Operation Cast Lead it was Hamas policy to hide the real number of its casualties. The factual data was released two years later, only after false information that Israel was responsible for the mass killing of Gaza Strip civilians had percolated into the world’s consciousness and entered the Goldstone Report.”
[1] The PIJ calls Operation Protective Edge “The Solid Structure Campaign” (Ma'arakat al-Bunyan al-Marsous, a phrase from the Quran: “Allah loves those who fight in His cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure”, Surat al-Saff, Verse 4).
[2] To date, the ITIC has published four documents in this project. The latest of them, from August 26, 2014: “Examination of the names of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge - Part Four.