May 11, 2024 | Flash Brief

UN Halves Its Estimate of Women and Children Killed in Gaza

May 11, 2024 | Flash Brief

UN Halves Its Estimate of Women and Children Killed in Gaza

Latest Developments

The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) revised its child fatality figure from the Gaza war sharply downward, reporting more than 14,500 deaths on May 6 but then 7,797 on May 8. OCHA also revised downward its figure for women fatalities from more than 9,500 deaths to 4,959 deaths. The Jerusalem Post first reported the changes on May 11.

The UN attributed its original, higher figures to the Hamas-controlled Government Media Office (GMO) in Gaza, whose figures OCHA has cited continually for the past two months. The UN gave no source for the lower figures in its May 8 update, but the figures precisely match those in a May 2 report from a different Hamas-controlled organization, the Gaza Ministry of Health.

Expert Analysis

“This change may signal that the UN has finally recognized the lack of evidence behind Hamas’s original claims that more than 14,000 children and 9,000 women have been killed in Gaza. If so, the UN should state clearly that it has lost confidence in sources whose credibility it has affirmed for months. While this change may only reflect the conclusion of one UN office out of the many operating in Gaza, it is a clear step forward.” — David Adesnik, FDD Senior Fellow and Director of Research

“For observers following the conflict, it should have been evident, since the war began, that data published by Hamas and its affiliates requires rigorous scrutiny. While the UN’s belated decision to rectify the casualty figures is welcome, it may come too late to undo the harm already caused. The delay has bolstered Hamas’s position and increased its chances of survival in the conflict.” — Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Gaza Health Ministry Admits Flaws in Casualty Data

In early April, the Gaza Ministry of Health admitted it had “incomplete data” to document more than 10,000 of the deaths it had previously reported. Subsequently, the ministry indicated that it did not have names for more than 10,000 of the individuals it claimed to be deceased. As of April 1, the ministry also stopped repeating the claim it made since the first weeks of the war that 70 percent of the dead were women and children, even suggesting the media invented this number. Meanwhile, the GMO continues to promote the 70 percent figure while revising its own numbers upwards, to remain consistent with that claim.

Gaza Health Ministry Cannot Provide Names For More Than 10,000 It Says Have Died,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas-Run Gaza Health Ministry Admits To Flaws In Casualty Data,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas’s Casualty Numbers Games,” by David Adesnik

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Israel Israel at War Palestinian Politics