Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gaza Withdrawal: Revised Casualty Figure: 1,284 Dead, 4,336 Wounded?

Israeli troops complete pullout from Gaza Strip

JERUSALEM (Associated Press) – Israel's last troops left the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, although the cease-fire was frayed when its navy opened fire toward beaches in northern Gaza, and smugglers' tunnels that were targeted in the 23-day campaign against Hamas were active again at the Egyptian border. [Read More]
The patterns which had fueled the most recent conflict are beginning again, in many ways returning back to status quo ante. The porous Egyptian border is being used to create a black and grey market for goods.

Returning life to the way things were before a war is generally considered good, when it is a resumption of normal, peaceful civilian life. If it is the resumptions of clandestine arms shipments and other illicit trading, then there will be little accomplished by the offensive to have curbed the systemic hostilities.

The Israeli government has conceded to open an investigation into allegations that white phosphorus (WP) was used against civilian populations. This may have impacts upon the United States’ own behavior, considering the controversy surrounding the use of white phosphorus by U.S. forces in Fallujah in 2005. Amnesty International’s Briefing on Applicable Law on Gaza clarifies the argument in terms of standards of international law.
First war tally: 1,284 Gazans dead, 4,336 wounded

KHAN YOUNIS (Associated Press), Gaza Strip – Squatting in the rubble, his briefcase perched atop his knees, the human rights researcher interviewed residents of a house shelled by Israel as he compiled a list of Gazans killed and wounded during Israel's offensive against Hamas.

Yasser Abdel Ghafar's work is part of a painstaking endeavor by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights to count the casualties of the 23-day war. The group released a final tally Wednesday, saying 1,284 Gazans were killed and 4,336 wounded, the vast majority civilians. [Read More]

The good news, such as it is, contends that according to these revised casualty figures, less people are dead and wounded than first reported. These revised figures from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights bring down the initial reports of 1,324 dead and 5,400 wounded. However, that latter figure is still the one cited by the Health Ministry. The difference comes from what constitutes a “casualty.” The ministry counted psychological trauma as well as physical injury, where the rights center did not. The rights group also contends the Health Ministry double-counted certain casualties.

Israel, for its part, disputes both figures, stating both reports severely undercount the number of combatants. It will take time to sort the truth from the propaganda. Yet for now, children are still having pieces of white phosphorus picked out of their wounds, detected only when smoke started pouring out from under their bandages.

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