B'Tselem: 773 of Palestinians killed in Cast Lead were civilians
Published: 09.09.09, 09:19
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31. ICT Response to B'Tselem's Response (Part 1)
Don Radlauer ,   Alfei Menashe, Isr.   (09.09.09)
As the lead researcher in ICT's study of "Operation Cast Lead" fatalities, I would like to respond to the points raised by B'Tselem - particularly to the objections mentioned in the last paragraph of this article: 1) We are not saying that someone is a combatant simply because he's male and of "combatant age". But since the laws of war are based fundamentally on the perceptions of soldiers in the field and their right to defend themselves while attacking legitimate targets, it is perfectly legitimate for IDF soldiers to have killed or injured young men, either individually or in groups, who they believed posed a threat - since there was no obvious and safe way, under the prevailing circumstances of Operation Cast Lead, to distinguish non-uniformed combatants from demographically-similar noncombatants. B'Tselem is thus making a "straw man" argument, refuting a claim that we are not making. Nowhere did we claim that all "demographically combatant-like" fatalities were genuine combatants, and in fact we have explicitly stated otherwise: that there is no doubt that IDF soldiers specifically targeted at least some male noncombatants, although we cannot say how many. To the extent that such targeting was based on soldiers' judgement that these young men appeared dangerous, no legal or moral blame accrues to the IDF for these killings; any blame accrues to Hamas and other Palestinian combatants, who chose to fight in an urban setting without conforming to the legal requirement to wear uniforms and carry weapons openly. By disguising combatants as civilians, Hamas effectively makes civilians (at least those demographically "combatant-like") into legitimate objects of suspicion and likely targets. 2) It is also important to note that our demographic calculation of the number of "civilian-like" noncombatant fatalities is based on the assumption that, given the reported number of girls, boys, and adult women killed, a corresponding number of adult men would be killed as well - making up a "civilian-like" population of non-targeted victims with demographics similar to the overall demographics of the Gaza Strip. This population would be expected to include roughly 100 to 150 adult males; and given the young median age of the Gaza Strip's population, it would be expected that these non-targeted adult male victims would have a relatively young median age as well (presumably somewhere between 24 and 30). Accordingly, the fact that some young men were killed even though they were obviously not engaged in combat does not in and of itself contradict our findings; we would expect to see a fair number of such victims among a civilian-victim population of 400 to 550. (continued...)
32. ICT Response to B'Tselem's Response (Part 2)
Don Radlauer ,   Alfei Menashe, Isr.   (09.09.09)
3) The fact that someone was killed while in fact "doing something harmless like climbing on top of a roof to fix a water boiler or going out on the street to drink coffee" does not automatically imply guilt on the part of the IDF for his death. In hindsight, it is possible to determine - in at least some cases - that a particular victim was engaged in innocent activity; but in the midst of urban combat, soldiers cannot afford to wait until they are certain that a particular potential target is in fact a combatant. Particularly in an environment where genuine combatants routinely dress and behave like noncombatants, and where Hamas had for months in advance bragged about the "nasty surprises" in store for the IDF if it invaded the Gaza Strip, it is completely inappropriate to hold the IDF to such unrealistic, hindsight-based standards. 4) It is, of course, entirely possible - and even likely - that some IDF soldiers fired on some Palestinians even when it was clear to them that the latter did not present any threat. Such "retail" war crimes are, sadly, a universal feature of combat - particularly in urban settings against irregular forces. It is worth noting in this regard that the IDF is currently investigating a number of accusations of such improper killings - partcularly cases of "white flag" killings - and we very much hope that the IDF imposes severe punishment on any soldier found to have committed such a crime. It is important to note in this context that such "retail" war crimes cannot normally be detected by statistical analysis, unless they have occurred in unusually large numbers; in this case, complicity or negligence on the part of higher command is likely. The fatality statistics of Operation Cast Lead, however, do not give any indication of such a systematic trend towards "retail" war crimes. Lacking such a statistical indication, only detailed investigation of individual incidents - with specific reference to how and why individual soldiers and officers decided to open fire on particular targets - can determine whether, where, and when war crimes occurred; and only if the IDF fails properly to conduct such investigations and impose appropriate punishments on soldiers and officers found guilty of illegal or improper actions is the IDF or the Israeli government implicated in war crimes. -Don Radlauer Associate, The Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT)
33. At #6
Jordan ,   Brampton, Canada   (09.09.09)
Most moral? Really now? If so, explain the use of white phosphorus on civillian centers in Gaza? And yes it's true that's it's important to keep your children safe but that doesn't mean you can't try and do the same towards the enemies own. I just find it strange how some people think the IDF can do no wrong.
34. Report
Alex ,   Toronto, Canada   (09.09.09)
I would trust an IDF report over an extreme left advocacy group any day of the week.
35. Where did B'Tselem get their info?
rebecca ,   Modiin   (09.09.09)
If it's so good that it's worth such a report, they must have been there, on the spot. Why did we miss them? Maybe Hamas would not consider their deaths good properganda...
36. B'Tselem, you should computerise the arab body count
Zorro   (09.09.09)
You are doing a lousy job. You are just another worthless organisation ( among many others)kept alive, well paid, well fed, in order to tell the world that Jews are mad and are fighting back. And it makes you "experts"in All Jewish conflicts. Now let's see: 614 combatants killed or 44.27 % ( so little); 773 non combatants or 55.73 % (so much). During WWII, it is estimated that 60 to 65 % were killed (depending who writes, who claims). The Germans went after big cities in order to soften up the population. The allied, to reciprocate did the same. They all had their private concentration camps, POW camps, and more. B'Tselem, you are doing it all wrong. All you have to do, is tell the thugs who run Hamas, Fatah, Hezbo, and other terrorist groups to stop bombing , killing , and the % will drop to ZERO. Simple isn't it? ---- then of course you will be out of business..................Sad.!
sam ,   Israel   (09.09.09)
38. #31 and #32
I can only assume that you are jewish, and therefore biased toward the IDF.
39. B'Tselem is an ARAB PALESTINIAN organization
Jake   (09.09.09)
Look at their data collection 'Fieldwork Department'. Each and every single name is Arab.
40. #15 Another fraud defender of a rogue cause.
Jake   (09.09.09)
41. #24 Wael, There was no ceasefire for Israel to breach.
Jake   (09.09.09)
Hamas claimed it was adhering to a so-called '6-month ceasefire'. Israel did not enter into a formal ceasefire with Hamas, it said it would respond to quiet with quiet. However, Hamas did not maintain quiet on the Israel-Gaza border during the '6-month ceasefire'. 223 rockets and 139 mortar shells were fired from Gaza during the lull, including 20 rockets and 18 mortar shells before November 4. Many of the so-called 'dissidents' firing rockets who were allegedly arrested by Hamas were released immediately, and continued to fire rockets at Israel. The so-called "Israeli ceasfire violation" that occurred on November 4 was a raid on a Hamas-dug tunnel near the Israel-Gaza border. Hamas built the tunnel for the capture of Israeli soldiers, like Gilad Shalit. Do you deny this? On December 19 the 'ceasefire' ended, and on December 20 Hamas announced it would not be extending the 'ceasefire'. Once Hamas decided to escalate the rocket fire, Israel decided to launch 'Cast Lead'. It really isn't that complicated, Wael. You can't hide the facts forever.
42. #9 - Nice try, but Islamists disagree with you
William ,   Israel   (09.09.09)
Claim whatever you like regarding the meaning of the term "jihad", the common usage today and 100% by Islamists is "armed struggle against infidels". Your attempt to whitewash a very disturbing phenomenon that paints Muslims as racist aggressors has again failed. You Muslims should not be surprised that the world sees you as violent when you can kill a man just for the sake of honor, or destroy property and threaten citizens over a cartoon. If Muslims really did take the true nature of 'jihad" to heart and used it for introspection, your society and religion would be a lot more today than a racist misogynist cult.
43. #15 - Your whole culture is about revenge
William ,   Israel   (09.09.09)
Nour - give it a rest. Your whole culture is about revenge. Islamists still cite a Christian crusade of 1099 as their impetus for Jiahd on the West. You Palestinians still cite past incidents as reasons for your racist terror war. If it wasn't about revenge or honor, wouldn't Pals have compromised by now? Of course, but when your goal is not to live in peace but to castrate your enemy, the war takes a different path. As for Pal's worth more to Israelis than to Palestinians apparently. While we heal Pals (even the terrorists) in our hospitals, you send your children to fight against soldiers and hide explosives in their bags. You use them as human shields and mothers on TV claim they celebrate the death of their sons and want to send many more. "And one wonders why peace hasn't arrived yet?" - No they don't, because the face of Pals is plain for all to see.....
44. #17 - Olmert's daughter is in B'tselem?
William ,   Israel   (09.09.09)
I wonder if we can expect them to ramp up their efforts to discredit the govt and IDF while Olmert is being indicted for criminal offenses.
45. #18 - A real tactic by Pals, as shown before by ICT
William ,   Israel   (09.09.09)
They use those who died of natural causes, regular criminal activity, and at the hands of Pal terrorists as fodder for the statistics they present against Israel. The girls who were killed by Hamas qassams in N. Gaza were included on the list of civilians "killed by IDF", as were those Fatah men tossed off buildings earlier and those shot for "collaborating with Israel" while sitting in Hamas prisons. B'tselem's big mistake is they believe anyone without a uniform or with a gun in their hand at the exact moment of being killed, is a civilian. That's not true by any intl law.
46. #19 - Soldiers carry guns, civilians do not
William ,   Israel   (09.09.09)
And the target for Pal terrorists have always been civilians who do not carry guns. They mostly avoid police, IDF, and security guards. However, when a war breaks out, that's when the differences are more clear. Israeli civilians are kept from the fighting and only soldiers get involved. In contrast, Hamas hides behind human shields, indoctrinates kids to join and fight, and hide in civilian clothes. But the rule is - regardless of dress, gender, or immediate action, if you're involved in hostilities, you are NO civilian. That goes for property too.
47. #24 - Wael, check US polls instead
William ,   Israel   (09.09.09)
CNN missed several points especially the videos of Hamas using human shields. That makes them just a tad less credible. However, polls of US citizens tell a better story - the majority believe that Hamas started the war with the endless rockets on Israeli civilians. They also showed little sympathy for Gazans whose infrastructure was destroyed because they started the war. You forgot to mention that Hamas twice violated the cease-fire by launching mortars and rockets onto Israel. Israel chose to ignore these and keep the cease-fire going...maybe that's why the news media chose to ignore it too, but it did happen.
48. #24 - "The Bahrainis are behind the Palestinian people"
William ,   Israel   (09.09.09)
I'll remember that the next time my Israeli company does business with a Bahrani, which is often. Hahaha. Too bad they haven't come to their senses re: Palestinians, like UAE, Iraq, and Kuwait. But in time I'm sure they will.
49. #38 - Oh, cut the crap already...
Joe ,   Ramat Gan   (09.09.09)
Debate using facts and logic, not ad hominem accusations of bias. It's not as if the guy didn't just practically write a novel filled with facts and analysis for you to pick apart...
50. #33 - Use of Phosophorus is not illegal
William ,   Israel   (09.09.09)
The IDF used white phosphorous according the international laws governing such items during wartime and over civilian areas. The fact that the outcome wasn't ideal shows the law must be changed but the IDF and countless other armies used it according to law and are not responsible. You should spend your time on changing Hamas tactics of using children and civilians as their human shields, of placing weapons in civilian buildings, and inviting return attacks on civilian areas where they launch rockets from. Your blame of the IDF is just a lazy tactic so you can avoid the real problem here - which is war crime terrorists in Gaza who couldn't care less what you think. I find it strange that you think another army would have done better against Hamas terrorists during Gaza War.
51. #37 - Or maybe he's using proper data analysis techniques
William ,   Israel   (09.09.09)
True researchers analyze data from many different perspectives to uncover "hidden" correlations. Like, looking at civilian ratios in Israelis targeted by Pal terrorists reveal a shockingly high number....over 90%, indicating a real goal of targeting and harming Israeli civilians only. Don's argument is rock solid and can hold up in any academic or legal institution. B'tselem and the Palestinians make a claim based on conjecture. So that validates your only response to #31,#32 postings "You must be Jewish and for the IDF". Sad, but even that claim is conjecture as many non-Jews support the IDF and volunteer regularly. In addition, the IDF has the full support of the majority of world armies and intelligence networks...because they know better.
52. no question
Barney ,   USA   (09.09.09)
there are going to be collateral damage deaths that are terrible. the "innocent" civilian population needs to put heat on hamas to stop indescriminately firing rockets, taking sniper shots, etc over the border into Israeli civilian population centers then Israel would not reach a breaking point where they have to respond in this manner. like teasing a dog and then complaining when he bites you.
53. What cease-fire?
Gee ,   Zikron Yaakov   (09.09.09)
Hamas was firing thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians. A WAR-CRIME. No we did not violate any cease-fire, there never was a cease-fire to violate.
54. Was Mohammed al Dura killed again?
David ,   Dallas   (09.09.09)
B'Tselem uses Pal propaganda for its "statistics", even though it's been proven that they regularly lie about injuuries and deaths. Jenin wasn't a massacre. al-Dura wasn't killed by the IDF. And B'Tselem is as full of it as usual.
55. take a good look
at the filled vegetable and fruit stands. take a look at the healthy fat women shoppers and the healthy looking children in tow. is this starvation? is this plentiful stand indicative of food shortages? have you seen the palestinian grocery store packed to the guilds and stuffed with every food imaginable during the "free gaza" boat tour of gaza that the british sister of blair had taken by camera in gaza? believe me, people in poor africa would love to have an eight of what was in that stuffed store. pure bs about food shortages and shortages of any kind. look at the gaza women. they are huge. never seen kids like in biafra with their swollen bellies over in gaza. never say skeletal men like the concentration camp survivors in ww2. some propaganda these gazans run. but then again, the entire world forever witnesses the total bs and lies and propaganda these palestinians spread for money, donations, eu funding, etc... a bunch of useless thugs with a devoted population of killers, martyrs and psychopaths. hameed aboughaze, iranian
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