Mideast: Israel claims only 250 civilians killed in Gaza

Jerusalem, 26 Jan. (AKI) - The Israeli army claimed on Monday that only 250 Palestinian civilians were killed during the three week offensive against the Gaza Strip. An investigation by the Israeli Defence Forces concluded that between 1,100 and 1,200 people were killed during the offensive, and at least 700 are believed to be militants, most of them belonging to the Islamist Hamas movement.

However, the figures are in sharp contrast to those by the Palestinian Health Ministry, which claims that 1,330 Gazans lost their lives, while at least 5,000 were injured.

Of the 1,330 Palestinians killed in the Israeli military offensive in Gaza, at least 400 of them are women and children, according to Palestinian doctors.

The figures are similar to those surveyed by non-governmental organisation The Palestinian Center for Human Rights. The PCHR said that up until 21 January, 1,285 Palestinians were killed, including 895 civilians and 167 civilian police officers.

Moreover, Palestinian militants claim that only 92 fighters were killed during the offensive. Of these, 48 were associated with the Islamist Hamas movement, 32 with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, 10 with the Popular Resistance Committees Salah ad-Din Brigades and two with the Mujahideen Brigades.

In a separate development, the European Union's Commissioner Louis Michel visited Gaza on Monday and called for the opening of the border crossings, the lifting of the Israeli economic blockade against Gaza and the maintenance of the ceasefire.

Michel also accused Israel of what he calls violations of international law.

"The most painful thing for me was the sizeable of destruction of infrastructures, economic facilities and factories which used to provide work opportunities for the Palestinians. [The destruction of these] was an unjustifiable violation of international law," Michel told journalists.

However, Michel also condemned the launching of Qassam rockets by Palestinian militants against southern Israeli towns and also described this as "terrorism".

The EU commissioner pledged 52 million euros of fresh aid for the Palestinians.


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