GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Israeli military said in a statement on Friday that it had killed 240 "militants" in the Gaza Strip since it began a ground offensive on the Gaza Strip last week.
More than 600 Palestinians have been killed in the ground assault according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, meaning that according to the army's numbers less than 40 percent of those killed have been combatants.
The new figures are closer than expected to those of Palestinian rights groups inside Gaza, who have claimed that around 80 percent of the dead have been civilians.
The Israeli military has repeatedly emphasized that it has done its utmost to avoid civilian casualties, but the widespread killing of civilians -- including the shelling of four UN-designated shelters in the last three days -- has raised alarm among international watchdogs.
Palestinian militants, meanwhile, have killed 33 Israeli soldiers since the ground assault began. Rocket fire into Israel has killed three civilians, one of whom was volunteering with the military near the border and another who was a foreign agricultural worker.
More than 90 percent of those killed by Palestinian militant groups, primarily Hamas, have been soldiers.
Correction: An earlier version of this article gave the figure of militants given by Israel as 30 percent, not 40 percent.