An analysis of the names of Gazans killed during Operation Guardian of the Walls indicates that about half of them were terrorist operatives

  • During Operation Guardian of the Walls, May 10-21, 2021, the Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip launched 4,360 rockets at Israeli cities and towns in a systematic attempt to harm as many civilians as possible. Twelve Israelis, two of them children, were killed by rocket fire and one IDF soldier was killed by an anti-tank missile. 680 of the rockets fell inside the Gaza Strip, killing at least 21 people, 10 men, two women and nine children: among the ten men, one was Hamas operative, one Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative and one Fatah member.

During the operation the IDF attacked about 1,500 terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, the overwhelming majority with precision weaponry. An analysis of names of the 236 Palestinians killed in the attacks indicated that at least 114 of them (48.3%) belonged to terrorist organizations, most to the military-terrorist wings of Hamas and the PIJ: 65 belonged to Hamas, 20 to the PIJ, 25 to Fatah, two to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), one to the Mujahedeen Brigades[1] and one to the Popular Resistance Committees. Eleven of the men between the ages of 17 and 40 were killed in IDF attacks on terrorist targets but we have no information linking them to terrorist organizations (one of them was a driver for a terrorist squad). At least five who were operatives of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing were also operatives in Hamas’ security forces (police, naval police or internal security forces). It has often been found that operatives of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing were also operatives in its security forces.[2]

  • Of the Gazans killed by IDF attacks who had no terrorist organization affiliation, 52 were children, 38 were women and five were 70 years old or older. Many of the Gazans who were killed as a result of IDF attacks and are not identified as affiliated with terror organizations were killed because they were in proximity to terrorist operatives or targets during an attack, the result of Hamas’ situating its terrorist installations near or under civilian structures: one prominent example was the collapse of two buildings under which Hamas had built one of its terrorist tunnels. One death was reported when an IDF tank opened fire to chase non-combatant Palestinians away from the border.[3] The deaths of four Gazans were reported without their ages.
  • Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, admitted that the organization’s military positions were located within the civilian population, confessing it was a “problem” (al-Jazeera, June 5, 2021).[4]
Number of fatalities
  • There are several Palestinian versions of the overall number of Gazans killed during the hostilities.
    • According to the latest update from the ministry of health in Gaza (June 3, 2021), 256 people were killed and 1,948 were wounded (ministry of health in Gaza Facebook page, May 24, 2021).
    • According to Wafa, the Palestinian Authority (PA) news agency, 257 people were killed (Wafa, May 30, 2021).
    • According to the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, a Hamas-affiliated Palestinian NGO operating in the Gaza Strip that documents IDF activity, 248 people were killed, 66 children and 39 women (al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, May 22, 2021).
    • According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 247 people were killed, 66 children and 39 women (Palestinian Center for Human Rights, May 21, 2021).
    • According to Defense for Children International – Palestine, 67 Palestinian children were killed; no other statistic was provided (Defense for Children International – Palestine, May 21, 2021).
    • According to Yahya al-Sinwar, 90 operatives from the Palestinian organizations were killed (al-Jazeera, June 5, 2021).
  • The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) carried out a detailed analysis of the information from the above and other sources of 262 names of Gazans killed during Operation Guardian of the Walls. It was found that 155 were men (ten killed by rocket misfires), 41 were women and 62 were children under the age of 16, nine of whom were killed by rocket misfires. The ages of four could not be verified.
  • As in previous operations and this time to a greater degree, the ministry of health in Gaza and the terrorist organizations provided only scanty information about terrorist operatives who were killed. Exceptions were the high-ranking operatives, whose deaths were formally announced by their organizations. The Hamas administration has been trying to create the impression that the overwhelming majority of fatalities were non-combatant civilians. The ministry of health in Gaza stressed the number of women, children and aged, as opposed to its past policy of publishing detailed lists of the names of all those killed. The social media and official media outlets have also represented a significant percentage of terrorist operatives as “civilians,” for the same reason, that is, to promote the narrative that most of the fatalities were non-combatants.
  • Lacking organized lists of names, the ITIC’s researchers based their results on a variety of Palestinian sources. They included data from the ministry of health in Gaza, reports issued by human rights organizations including the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights (, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights ( and Defense for Children International – Palestine. Information was also gathered from the Wafa news agency, the websites of the Palestinian organizations’ military-terrorist wings, the Arab media and the social networks.
  • It can be stated that the overwhelming majority of the terror organizations affiliated fatalities were identified as Hamas and PIJ military-terrorist wing operatives. However, it was hard to determine absolutely how many Fatah members were terrorist operatives who actively participated in the hostilities or were targets for elimination or attack because of their military-terrorist activities.
  • In addition, at least 11 Gazans who died as a result of IDF attacks were between the ages of 17 and 40 and could have been targeted, but the Palestinian sources make no mention of their organizational affiliation.

Note: For referencing place names, Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun are in the northern Gaza Strip, Khan Yunis, and Rafah are in the southern Gaza Strip. The Erez Crossing and Rafah Crossing mark the Gaza Strip’s northernmost and southernmost points.

[1] The Mujahedeen Brigades are the military-terrorist wing of the Mujahedeen Movement, which split from Fatah and are today affiliated with the PIJ and influenced by Iran.
[2] For further information, see the December 24, 2012 bulletin, "Members of Hamas’ Internal Security Services Who Were Also Operatives in Hamas’ Military-Terrorist Wing and Were Killed in Operation Pillar of Defense."

[3] The IDF investigated the incident and measures were taken within the ranks; the Military Police initiated an investigations whose results will be given to the Military Prosecutor's Office (IDF spokesman, June 11, 2021)

[4] Yahya al-Sinwar made the statement at a meeting of Gazan academicians, claiming that thanks to those of them who had joined the ranks of the "resistance" [i.e., the terrorist organizations] or enriched the "resistance" with their knowledge, today they had rockets whose precision and capabilities had not yet been revealed (al-Jazeera, June 5, 2021). At least three high-level academicians, who dealt with developing weapons for Hamas' military-terrorist wing and who trained generations of engineers, were killed.