On the first day of the war, Israel targeted police stations and 250 martyrs who were part of Hamas and the various factions fell." He added that, "about 200 to 300 were killed from the Qassam Brigades, as well as 150 security personnel."
Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad
In the above quote, Hamad's admission that Hamas lost between 600 and 700 fighters during Israel's Operation Cast Lead mirrors what Israel claimed all along: that 709 Hamas combatants were killed.
As CAMERA notes, the Hamas admission directly undercuts the Goldstone Report's contention that Israel targeted civilians as well:
Hamad's admission gives greater credence to the assertion of British Colonel Richard Kemp that the Israelis acted with greater restraint than other military forces engaged in similar circumstances. The Israeli forces encountered an environment in which opposing forces were intermingled with civilian populations; distinguishing combatants from non-combatants was difficult. This difficulty was compounded by the intentional blending of civilians and combatants by Hamas. During the war, the New York Times reported that the Hamas leadership issued instructions for its fighters to shed their uniforms in order to blend in to the civilian population.So why has Hamas changed its claim of members killed from 48 to close to 700?
Based on a report by a report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, CAMERA notes that first Hamas milked the claim of Israel's 'disproportionate force' for all it was worth:
However, once Hamas got all the mileage it could out of that tactic, it had to deal with the flip side of the issue, that Hamas’s own constituency, the Gazan population, felt they had been abandoned by the Hamas government which had made no effort to shelter them. Since 2007, Hamas has been the government in Gaza, and it is, at least in principle, obligated to look after the well-being of the population it rules over. The flip side of the claimed low Hamas casualties and high civilian casualties is the lingering image of Hamas fighters retreating to prepared hideouts after firing off rockets, leaving the civilian population to absorb the punishing Israeli military response.Read CAMERA's complete report.
Gaza is a small territory, its residents would certainly have been aware that the Israeli attack was precipitated by the escalating volume of rocket fire directed at Israel from Hamas controlled territory. In order to defuse resentment at having abandoned its own constituency during the Israeli military response, Hamas has to show that its fighters did not simply run and hide, but had stood their ground and taken many of the casualties.
Knowing that the media would give lots of coverage to their original claim and practically ignore the corrected numbers, Hamas ran no real risk of undermining their anti-Israel propaganda, though they may be underestimating the resentment of Gazans for how Hamas abandoned them during the war.
The fact that Hamas has read the media correctly is attested to by the fact that not only has the media not given equal time to the new numbers, but those same 'humanitarian' groups who gave so much weight to the original numbers have thus far neither acknowledged the new numbers nor recognized their implications.
Technorati Tag: Goldstone Report and Gaza and Hamas and Operation Cast Lead.