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Conflicting numbers make it difficult to keep death toll in Gaza

Israel has been internationally condemned for the number of civilian deaths in Gaza, but the conflicting numbers make it hard to know the real total.

By Aileen Graef
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Palestinians carry children from an apparent Israeli air strike at a United Nations school, where displaced Palestinians had taken refuge, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on August 3, 2014. At least ten people were killed while people were waiting in line for food supplies. UPI/Ismael Mohamad | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/91a4d7900d5e920844fe73bf82183de7/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Palestinians carry children from an apparent Israeli air strike at a United Nations school, where displaced Palestinians had taken refuge, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on August 3, 2014. At least ten people were killed while people were waiting in line for food supplies. UPI/Ismael Mohamad | License Photo

GAZA CITY, Gaza, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Palestinians, the United Nations, and the Israelis are producing different numbers for the deaths of Palestinian civilians, making it difficult to keep track.

A team in Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City came to the conclusion Tuesday that 1,865 "martyrs" had died as the result of "Israeli aggression." These numbers include 429 Palestinians under age 18, 79 over 60, and 243 women all killed since July 6.

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The U.N., which puts the death toll at 1,814, has determined that 72 percent of those deaths were civilians. Two Gaza based groups, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, put the civilian percentages at 82 and 84 percent, respectively.

"There are big problems in the numbers because there are such huge numbers," said Samir Zaqout, who runs a team of 10 Al Mezan field workers that profiles attacks. "We do our best in this horrible situation to be very clear."

Israel provides yet a different set of numbers. They claim they have killed 900 "terrorists," but do not give many specifics, and estimate 47 percent of the dead are fighters.

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The total death toll isn't as contentious as the ratio of civilians to combatants killed, especially for Israel. Their attack on a U.N. school sparked outrage with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon calling it "unjustifiable" and Israel's biggest ally, the United States, calling it "indefensible."

The Israeli Defense Forces have repeatedly denied targeting U.N. facilities.

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