Palestinians at the site of a destroyed police car after it was hit from an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on February 7, 2024. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90 Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90
Gazan civilians

Media-reported deaths of Gazans often vaguely cite ‘reliable media sources’ which aren’t government sources or independently verified but come from online news clips. 

By Shula Rosen

While world leaders and protesters alike decry the IDF’s operations in Gaza and base their criticism on the high numbers of reported casualties, especially among women and children in Gaza, an extensive report from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy reveals that these numbers aren’t accurate and are manipulated by Hamas.

Although it’s nearly impossible to provide fully accurate fatality accounts in war, there is sufficient reason, according to the report, to be particularly skeptical in the case of the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health’s numbers.

At an October 25th news conference, even US President Joe Biden acknowledged that he lacked confidence in the numbers the Gaza Health Ministry was publishing, but he walked back these statements when he met with Muslim American leaders.

The report shows that at the beginning of the war prior to the IDF’s ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, the Gaza Health Ministry numbers were consistent with both official UN and Israel’s figures.

However, since the beginning of the ground invasion, a careful analysis of the figures reported by Gazan sources reveal that Hamas has been severely manipulating the numbers.

Hamas’s strategy appears to be to exaggerate the numbers regarding deaths of of women and children and to underreport male deaths.

The report warns, “Here a cautionary note is necessary: even as most combatants are men, most Gazan men are still civilians, rendering the overall number of men killed an imperfect proxy for Hamas.”

The Gaza Health Ministry stopped reporting civilian deaths on November 10th and resumed on December 2nd although in much less detail.

Media-reported deaths of Gazans often vaguely cite “reliable media sources” which aren’t government sources or independently verified but come from online news clips.

Hamas’s reporting on civilian deaths in many cases is contradictory and inconsistent.

In Hamas’s numbers, there is a marked revision downward of male deaths, for instance, in two reports from November 5th, male deaths were reported as 2,890 and later on as 2,616.

On the same day, the Gaza Health Ministry reported male deaths at 5,577 and Hamas-run Government Media Office (GMO) published 4,212 as the official number.

On December 2, GMO reported over 1,000 fewer male deaths than the Gaza Health Ministry (4,563 to 3,499).

On January 1st the Gaza Health Ministry reported that 6,088 male deaths in Gaza before November 11th, and GMO reported 6,098 men had been killed as of January 1st, which indicated that only 10 men died in military operations between November 11 and January 1st.

The IDF claim that 9,000 Hamas terrorists have been killed in Gaza whereas GMO reports 6,088 total male casualties.

Even if the IDF’s numbers are inflated, as some skeptics suggest, it is unlikely that they would be exaggerated by 3,000, but given the pattern of Hamas reporting on casualties, the number of male deaths apparently have been revised downward.

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