Attempts to sabotage the security fence and even cross it into the Israeli side (Facebook page of the Supreme National Authority of the Return Marches, January 11, 2019). The examination of the list of fatalities shows that Hamas operatives are prominent among those in the front line of the confrontations.
- The findings of the ITIC’s examination are essentially consistent with those of previous examinations carried out by the ITIC in the past (April-May 2017). Furthermore, these findings are consistent with past statements of two Hamas senior figures in the Gaza Strip: Salah Bardawil stated that 50 out of the 63 shahids killed in the events of May 14, 2018 (about 81%) belonged to Hamas. He added that in the events that took place between March 30, 2019, and May 14, 2019, 50% of the fatalities were Hamas operatives. Yahya Sinwar, chairman of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, said that on May 14, 2018, over 60 Hamas operatives were killed (Al-Mayadeen Channel on YouTube, May 21, 2018).
- The large number of fatalities from the terrorist organizations on the front line demonstrates that the violence against the IDF near the border is not “popular,” as the false Palestinian propaganda wishes to convey. It is orchestrated by Hamas and significantly involves operatives of Hamas’s military wing or operatives affiliated with Hamas. It also shows that the IDF soldiers do not shoot indiscriminately at “innocent” demonstrators but instead, in most cases, target and hit specific terrorist operatives. It should be noted that the Gaza Strip Health Ministry, whose reports are used as a source for media outlets worldwide (as well as in Israel), does not provide information on the organizational affiliation of the fatalities, thus helping to convey a false idea of killing “innocent” demonstrators by the IDF.
Characterization of the identity of the fatalities of the “return marches”
Summary of the findings: Identities of the fatalities of the “Return Marches” (March 30, 2018 – January 14, 2019)
- According to the ITIC’s findings, 187 Palestinians were killed during the “return marches.” A total of 150 of them were identified by the ITIC as being affiliated with some organization, most of them operatives of Hamas or affiliated with it. Among the fatalities, 58 (about 31%) were identified as operatives of the military wings of the various organizations. As for 37 of the fatalities, no affiliation was found to any of the organizations, and they were possibly civilians taking part in the violent activity on the front line (near the fence).
- Following are the details, divided into organizations:
- Hamas: 96 fatalities are affiliated with Hamas, 45 of them are operatives of its military wing.
- Fatah: 36 fatalities are affiliated with Fatah, six of them are affiliated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (Fatah’s military wing).
- PIJ: Six fatalities were identified as PIJ operatives, all of them operatives of the PIJ’s military wing. In comparison with Hamas and Fatah, the small number of fatalities from this organization, which is the second largest terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip, is outstanding. The reason for it is possibly an understanding of the PIJ that this is a Hamas project.
- According to these findings, it is evident that during the “return march” demonstrations, operatives of the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, especially Hamas operatives or Palestinians affiliated with Hamas, occupy the front line of confrontation vis-à-vis the IDF forces. In most cases, it is these operatives who throw hand grenades and IEDs at the IDF forces, and it is these operatives who approach the security fence and attempt to sabotage it or penetrate into Israeli territory. In addition, some of the operatives were also involved in attempts to carry out terrorist attacks during the demonstrations and hit the IDF troops deployed on the ground. On the other hand, the relatively small number of “ordinary civilians” without any organizational affiliation who were killed during the events of the “return marches” is conspicuous (usually, 5,000-10,000 Palestinians take part in the demonstrations). They are usually positioned in the back, in rear sites (“camps of return”), and they play a secondary role in the violent confrontations with the IDF forces near the fence.
- Following are several methodological notes on the manner in which information on the fatalities was collected and analyzed:
- The number of fatalities refers to fatalities in the “return marches” only. It does not include people who were killed in other events in the Gaza Strip which took place between the marches and were inspired by them.
- The information on the number of fatalities of the “return marches” is based on the Gaza Strip Health Ministry. Since the Health Ministry does not usually provide a breakdown of fatalities according to their organizational affiliation, this information was collected from various websites and social networks (mostly local networks in the Gaza Strip). There are various levels in the quality of information on which this examination is based, ranging from solid information (formal statements of the organizations on the death of their operatives) to circumstantial information.
- Referring to the identity of the fatalities, distinction was made between operatives of the various organizations. Inside the organizations, distinction was made between clear operatives of the organization, mainly operatives of the military wings or security services, and other members only loosely connected to the organization.
Previous examinations of the identity of the fatalities, made by the ITIC
- This document is an update to previous examinations of the identity of the fatalities, made by the ITIC:
- Initial Analysis of the Identities of Gazans Killed During the “Great Return March” on March 30 and April 6, 2018
- Analysis of the Identities of Gazans Killed During the “Great Return March”
- Findings of the ITIC’s examination of the identity of Palestinians killed in the events of the “Great Return March” (March 30, 2018 – May 15, 2018)