The destruction in Gaza's Shijaiyah neighbourhood.

The destruction in Gaza’s Shijaiyah neighbourhood.

 

A six-month investigation by international news agency Associated Press has determined that almost two thirds of those killed by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza last year were women, children and older men.

The report, which AP described as “the most painstaking attempt yet to try to determine who was killed,” was undertaken because Israeli military authorities poured doubt on official United Nations statistics following the 50-day conflict.

AP researchers looked into 247 airstrikes and interviewed witnesses. They found that over 60 percent of those killed were elderly men, women and children, and that only 11 percent of the dead were “confirmed or suspected militants”. Authors noted however that no official casualty list has ever been released by Hamas.

Commentators said the numbers “help shape public opinion about the way the war was wa”ged, its cost in human life and whether the hostilities were worth the casualties,” after more than 2,100 people died in less than two months.

Israeli authorities have defended their actions during Operation Protective Edge, arguing that Palestinian groups used houses, schools and hospitals from which to launch attacks.