According to various sources, mainly the Jerusalem Post and ynetnews, which quotes an Italian newspaper, claims from various Palestinians and one Palestinian doctor that the number dead is around 500-600 maximum and, as this unnamed Palestinian doctor says "Most of them are youths between the ages of 17 to 23 who were recruited to the ranks of Hamas, who sent them to the slaughter." Within this report is further evidence of Hamas using the civilian population as human shields. From the Jerusalem Post, "One Gazan recalled civilians in Gaza shouting at Hamas and Islamic Jihad men, 'Go away, go away from here! Do you want the Israelis to kill us all? Do you want our children to die under their bombs? Take your guns and missiles with you.'
'Traitors, collaborators with Israel, spies of Fatah, cowards! The soldiers of the holy war will punish you. And in any case you will all die, like us. Fighting the Zionist Jews we are all destined for paradise. Do you not wish to die with us?' the religious fanatics of Hamas reportedly responded." It is also noted in this report that Hamas fighters dressed up as paramedics and driving hospitals. One Palestinian reported that she saw Hamas firing rockets in and on top of UN buildings. Another Palestinian told the reporter "Armed Hamas men sought out a good position for provoking the Israelis. There were mostly teenagers, aged 16 or 17, and armed. They couldn't do a thing against a tank or a jet. They knew they are much weaker, but they fired at our houses so that they could blame Israel for war crimes."
When this Italian reporter talked with Palestinian reporters about the fighting and these inflated numbers, they said that this would be similar to what happened in Jenin when "there was first talk of 1,500 deaths. But then it turned out that there were only 54, 45 of which were armed men."
Here is a link of the original story translated into English from the original Italian.