Israel

An emergency worker carries a child wounded in an Israeli air strike on the Sheikh Radwan area of Gaza City, as he arrives at the city's Al-Shifa hospital, on August 8, 2014
Divergence in fatality statistics and composition of Gaza population may reveal nature of Israeli strikes

Most news organizations have been quoting Gaza death statistics from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which leads a group of humanitarian organizations known as the Protection Cluster, the BBC reported.

The OHCHR reported that as of Wednesday, 1,843 Palestinians had been killed along with 66 Israelis and one Thai national since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge on 8 July.

Of the Palestinian fatalities, 279 could not be identified and at least 1,354 were civilians, including 415 children and 214 women, according to the UN body.

The statistics mean that 216 members of armed groups were killed along with 725 civilian men.  More than three times as many men were killed as women among the civilian population and three times as many civilian men were killed as fighters.

The UN attaches a caveat to its figures, stating "Data on fatalities and destruction of property is consolidated by the Protection and Shelter clusters based on preliminary information, and is subject to change based on further verifications."

While more men are usually killed in conflict than women, no ratio has ever been determined.  If the Israeli attacks in Gaza have been "indiscriminate" as the UNHRC says, the large difference between the number of men and women killed is hard to work out.

Matthias Behnk of OHCHR told BBC that the organization would not speculate on the ratio of fatalities between men and women in Gaza, adding that the organization is now focusing only on recording the casualties.

"As such, we have not at this stage conducted a detailed analysis of trends of civilian casualties, for example in relation to the reasons why different groups are affected and the types of incidents, but hope to carry this out at some point in the coming future," he said.

"However, even in the compiling of these preliminary figures, we cross-verify between different sources, not only media and several different human rights organisations, but also use other sources, including, for example, names of alleged fighters released by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and notices by armed groups in Gaza claiming someone as a member."

The New York Times ventured to analyze the death statistics in Gaza, pointing out that "the population most likely to be militants, men ages 20 to 29, is also the most over-represented in the death toll. They are 9% of Gaza's 1.7 million residents, but 34% of those killed whose ages were provided."

"At the same time, women and children under 15, the least likely to be legitimate targets, were the most underrepresented, making up 71% of the population and 33% of the known-age casualties."

The IDF announced that they had killed 253 Hamas operatives, 147 Islamic Jihad operatives, 65 operatives of other organizations, and 603 operatives with unknown affiliation.  They have stressed that the numbers are not final.

Spokesman Captain Eytan Buchman told BBC that "the UN numbers being reported are, by and by large, based on the Gaza health ministry, a Hamas-run organization".

"It's important to bear in mind that in Operation Cast Lead [the last Israeli ground offensive in December 2008-January 2009], Hamas and Gaza-based organisations claimed that only 50 combatants were killed, admitting years later the number was between 600-700, a figure nearly identical to the figure claimed by the IDF."

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