What’s Going on With Gaza’s Fatality Numbers?

“All the numbers we’re getting out of Gaza are from offices run by Hamas, the terrorist group that perpetrated the October 7 attack and runs the government (if you consider the government to be functional at all there). But there’s two main sources—the Government Media Office (GMO) and the Ministry of Health (MoH)—and the first, higher count is from the GMO, whereas the revised count is from the MoH.

In order to suss out the legitimacy of the numbers, we have to consider what is being counted as “identified” vs. “unidentified.” The MoH had long counted deaths reported by both hospitals and “reliable” media accounts; around the start of April, it revised the media-reported deaths to be categorized as “incomplete” and then “unidentified.” When a death is reported based on a media account (and a media account alone), there are no remains that have been identified—so the accuracy of this count remains disputed.

If you think these data-reporting practices are not so great, you should look at the GMO’s account. “Way back on Dec. 11, GMO reported the death of 8,000 children and 6,200 women out of 18,396 total fatalities,” writes David Adesnik, the director of research for the nonpartisan Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Arithmetic shows there were (18,396-8,000-6,200=) 4,196 men. But GMoH reported at the time that hospitals had registered 5,577 male fatalities.” In other words: Hamas’ two data-reporting entities cannot even line up their stories.”

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