What really is behind the numbers reported on the number of civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip? Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera reported Thursday that a doctor working in Gaza's Shifa Hospital claimed that Hamas has intentionally inflated the number of casualties resulting from Israel's Operation Cast Lead.It is to be expected that Israel would stick with the higher numbers until there is complete verification of the lower numbers. For instance, there is a Palestinian doctor who disputes the lower numbers:
"The number of deceased stands at no more than 500 to 600. Most of them are youths between the ages of 17 to 23 who were recruited to the ranks of Hamas, who sent them to the slaughter," according to the newspaper article.
The doctor wished to remain unidentified, out of fear for his life.
Dr. Moaiya Hassanain, who is in change of the emergency department at the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, denied the figures presented by the Italian paper.Apparently there are some Palestinian journalists who will verify that there has been an exaggeration of the numbers and themselves compare this with the obvious precedent:
Hassanain told Ynet that the Palestinian figures were issued cautiously, without any political considerations, and that several casualties may not have been reported as their bodies are still under the rubble or have not been handed over to the rescue forces and authorized medical officials.
The reporter for the Italian newspaper also quoted reporters in the Strip who told of Hamas' exaggerated figures, "We have already said to Hamas commanders – why do you insist on inflating the number of victims?"The Jerusalem Post has picked up on this story and indicate that the Italian newspaper did more than rely on what they were told: they also investigated the hospitals and talked to people:
These same reporters mentioned that the truth that will come out is likely to be similar to what occurred in Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin. "Then, there was first talk of 1,500 deaths. But then it turned out that there were only 54, 45 of which were armed men," the Palestinian reporters told the Italian newspaper.
The number of Palestinians killed in Operation Cast Lead did not exceed five or six hundred, Lorenzo Cremonesi, a correspondent for Italy's Corriere della sera reported on Thursday.
Cremonesi based his report on tours of hospitals in the Gaza Strip and on interviews with families of casualties. He also assessed the number of wounded to be far lower than 5,000, the number quoted by Hamas and repeated by the UN and the Red Cross in Gaza.
"It is sufficient to visit several hospitals [in the Gaza Strip] to understand that the numbers don't add up," he wrote.
In the European hospital in Rafah, one of the facilities which would presumably be filled with wounded from the "war of the tunnels," many beds were empty, according to Cremonesi. A similar situation was noted in the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, and in the privately-run Amal Hospital Cremonesi reported that only five out 150 beds were occupied.
Cremonesi interviewed Gazans who echoed Israel's insistence of how Hamas gunmen used civilians as human shields. One Gazan recalled civilians in Gaza shouting at Hamas and Islamic Jihad men, "Go away, go away from here! Do you want the Israelis to kill us all? Do you want our children to die under their bombs? Take your guns and missiles with you."
...Other Palestinians told Cremonesi of Hamas operatives donning paramedic uniforms and commandeering ambulances. A woman identified as Um Abdullah, 48, spoke of Hamas using UN buildings as launch pads for rockets.Cremonesi has said that it is difficult to collect data because of the fear that Gazans have of Hamas, but one would expect that those bringing in aid would at least make a point of ascertaining the number of injured before bringing in supplies for them.
The hoax of Jenin was eventually revealed--it now remains to uncover to what degree Hamas is hiding the truth.
Crossposted on Soccer Dad