GAZA, a new version of the genocide-that-wasn't in Jenin?
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.I'm told that Haaretz (only in Hebrew so far, so I can't personally check) reports that a doctor in Shifa hospital says that there were 500-600 killed max, most of them 17 to 23 year-old males.
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."
UPDATE. The Israeli army denies the Italian journalist's report:
Despite a report by Lorenzo Cremonesi, a correspondent for Italy's Corriere della sera, that the number of Palestinians killed in Operation Cast Lead did not exceed five or six hundred, Israeli defense officials on Thursday said there were around 1,300 Palestinians killed during the fighting in Gaza and that a majority of them were Hamas operatives.Stay tuned.
The IDF's Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration has already compiled a list with 900 names of Palestinians killed during the operation, out of which 750 are believed to be Hamas operatives.
The IDF estimated that two-thirds of those killed were gunmen affiliated with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terror factions. At least 500 are believed to have been members of Hamas's military wing.
Hamas, defense officials said, purposely covered up the number of dead and on Sunday claimed that only 48 members of its military wing had been killed. Many bodies belonging to Hamas operatives were being stored - officials said - in the morgue in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
The vast majority of the Hamas operatives killed were not wearing uniforms to disguise their affiliation, another reason for the exaggerated estimate of civilian casualties by the United Nations.