November 6, 2023 | Flash Brief

No Reliable Data on Gaza Death Count

November 6, 2023 | Flash Brief

No Reliable Data on Gaza Death Count

Latest Developments

Citing the Gaza Health Ministry, media outlets reported on November 6 that more than 10,000 Palestinians have died in Gaza since Hamas provoked a war with Israel on October 7. Despite weeks of active warfare conducted by Hamas, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry does not differentiate between military and civilian deaths. The United Nations also cited the Gaza Health Ministry in the data it published on November 5.

On October 25, President Joe Biden said he has “no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed.” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby warned the following day against using “numbers put out by an organization that’s run by a terrorist organization.”

Expert Analysis

“Anyone who cites Hamas statistics as fact is knowingly amplifying Hamas propaganda aimed at pressuring Israel into a ceasefire before Hamas can be destroyed. Hamas lies — it’s just what Hamas does — and those lies will become louder and more outrageous as the group’s final hours approach.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Every civilian casualty in war is a tragedy. Hamas has a long history of inflating civilian casualty numbers to demonize Israel. The same Iran-backed terror organization that denies killing Israeli civilians on October 7 is now controlling and distorting the narrative out of Gaza. There is no independent reporting or reliable data coming out of the enclave.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

Unverified Reporting

Following the October 17 explosion at al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza caused by an errant Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket, major media outlets quickly repeated claims from the Gaza Health Ministry that approximately 500 Palestinians had died. However, American intelligence subsequently estimated that the count was between 100 and 300. A senior European intelligence source told Agence France-Presse that the toll was 50 at most. The New York Times published an editor’s note on October 23 admitting that “the death toll might be lower than initially reported” and that the editors should have “been more explicit about what information could be verified.”

The United Nations Is Not Neutral

The United Nations has worked with the Palestinian organization Al-Haq to track casualties during previous rounds of violence. The Israeli government recognizes Al-Haq as a front for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is no less partial. In 2021, the agency recalled its Gaza chief after he publicly acknowledged that the Israeli military carried out “precise” and “sophisticated” strikes to avoid civilian casualties.

5 Things to Know About the Hamas-Run Gaza Health Ministry,” FDD Insight

Israel’s Proportional and Humanitarian Response,” by Sinan Ciddi and David May

Inside Hamas’ Propaganda Machine,” by Joe Truzman


Israel Israel at War Palestinian Politics