June 28, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Legislators Bar State Department From Citing Gaza Health Ministry Fatality Statistics

June 28, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Legislators Bar State Department From Citing Gaza Health Ministry Fatality Statistics

Latest Developments

An amendment to the annual State Department appropriations bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on June 27 bars the State Department from citing the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry’s fatality data. Sixty-two Democrats and 207 Republicans voted for the measure, which was spearheaded by representatives Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Mike Lawler (R-NY), and Carol Miller (R-WV).

The Biden administration has relied on the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry’s casualty count since October, despite significant flaws in the data. The Ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants and, in April, admitted that it had “incomplete data” to document more than 10,000 of the deaths it had previously reported. Still, the State Department in May defended the administration’s reliance on the Health Ministry’s data on the grounds that “international organizations generally deem [them] credible.”

Expert Analysis

“It’s a complete abdication of responsibility for the Biden administration to say it trusts the Gaza Health Ministry’s numbers because the UN considers them trustworthy. We’ve seen that the UN puts blind faith in the ministry’s numbers even when they’re completely implausible. As a result of trusting numbers from a Hamas-controlled entity, the Biden administration has become more focused on the restraints it can put on Israeli forces than how it can help accelerate Hamas’s defeat.” — David Adesnik, FDD Senior Fellow and Director of Research

“The administration cannot rely on or even accept with any veracity figures provided by the Gaza Ministry of Health because it is controlled by Hamas. Given that multiple press agencies have revised their casualty figures in Gaza based on gross inaccuracies and lies peddled by Hamas’s Ministry of Health, those figures are simply not a reliable source of information for the Biden administration and never should have been considered as such. The House has intervened not once but twice — once through the defense authorization legislation and again through the appropriation process — to ensure that Hamas propaganda is not adopted as fact by the administration.” — Matt Zweig, Senior Director of Policy at FDD Action

Media Debunks Gaza Health Ministry Claims

The Associated Press published an analysis of the Gaza Health Ministry’s data in June, which found that 62 percent of those who died in April were adult males or had no reported gender. This finding flies in the face of the Health Ministry’s persistent claims that women and children account for more than 70 percent of fatalities in Gaza.

“The trend is significant because the death rate for women and children is the best available proxy for civilian casualties,” AP observed, “yet the shift went unnoticed for months by the UN and much of the media, and the Hamas-linked Health Ministry has made no effort to set the record straight.” While the media and the United Nations did not probe the Health Ministry data on which they relied for months, independent analysts, including FDD scholars, exposed numerous flaws in the data as early as January.

UN Quietly Walks Back Casualty Claims

On May 6, the UN reported that more than 24,000 women and children had lost their lives in Gaza. On May 8, that figure suddenly fell to less than 13,000, with the UN providing no explanation until journalists began to notice the shift. A spokesman for the UN contended that the change simply represented a new way of presenting the same information, but the UN consciously chose to stop reporting inflated numbers from Gaza’s Government Media Office — another body providing unreliable fatality data — whose methodology the UN’s humanitarian office had described in December as “unknown.”

Gaza Health Ministry Cannot Provide Names for More Than 10,000 It Says Have Died,” by David Adesnik

Hamas-Run Gaza Health Ministry Admits to Flaws in Casualty Data,” FDD Flash Brief

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


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