Rights Group: More than 50% of Gaza casualties weren't militants
By Haaretz Service
The human rights organization B'Tselem on Monday said in a statement that more than half of the Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip in Israel Defense Forces operations in recent days did not take an active part in the fighting. This statement came after the IDF Chief of Staff issued a statement saying that 90 percent of those killed were in fact armed militants.
In their statement, B'Tselem outlined a string of incidents in which IDF allegedly killed innocent bystanders in the course of military operations aimed at battling the escalating rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel.
According to data gathered by B'Tselem, 106 Palestinians were killed between February 27 and march 3. Fifty four of them were civilians who didn't take part in the fighting, and 25 were under 18, the statement said.
he human rights group cites as an example an incident that occurred on Thursday, in which four children were killed and two others were wounded in an Israel Air Force strike targeting rocket launchers. The children had been playing soccer in a street east of the Jabaliya refugee camp. The organization's inquiry into the incident revealed that the Qassam launcher may have been situated 100 meters from the site of the strike, and no militants were harmed in the strike.
Another incident cited by B'Tselem is the death of a brother and sister aged 16 and 17 while they were watching the violence from the window of their home east of Jabaliya. According to witnesses, the two were shot in the head and the chest.
B'Tselem expressed concern over the high number of civilians, especially children, who have been killed recently in the Gaza Strip. "Israel has a right to defend its citizens from rockets, which are in themselves a war crime, and it is what it must do," the organization wrote. "Israel must do so within the confines of the law, which must conform to the criteria of differentiation and proportionality as defined by international humanitarian law."