Gaza death toll could be five times official figures, may exceed 186,000: Report

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
5 min read

The death toll of the nine-month Israeli air and ground offensive in Gaza could be almost five times official figures, according to a new report estimating the number of fatalities could exceed 186,000.

The health ministry in Gaza said Monday at least 38,193 people have been killed in the war between Israel and Palestinian militants, now in its tenth month. A further 87,903 people have been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7, 2023, according to the official figures.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

However, the British medical journal The Lancet released a report this week that the true death toll of the Gaza conflict could be over 186,000 – about eight percent of Gaza’s population.

The forecast that casualties in Gaza could reach 186,000 is based on the calculation that for every person killed directly by the war – another four people will die indirectly. The Lancet article said that “in recent conflicts, the number of indirect deaths has ranged from 3 to 15 times the number of direct deaths.”

“Applying a conservative estimate of four indirect deaths per one direct death to the 37,396 deaths reported, it is not implausible to estimate that up to 186 000 or even more deaths could be attributable to the current conflict in Gaza,” the report ‘Counting the dead in Gaza: difficult but essential’ said. “Using the 2022 Gaza Strip population estimate of 2,375,259, this would translate to seven to nine percent of the total population in the Gaza Strip.”

“A report from February 7, 2024, at the time when the direct death toll was 28,000, es-timated that without a ceasefire, there would be between 58,260 deaths (without an epi-demic or escalation) and 85,750 deaths (if both occurred) by August 6, 2024.”

While the Israeli authorities have contested the Gaza health ministry’s figures, Israeli intelligence services, the UN, and WHO have accepted them as accurate, The Lancet said in its report.

“These data are supported by independent analyses, comparing changes in the number of deaths of UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) staff with those reported by the Ministry, which found claims of data fabrication implausible,” the report authors added.

According to the journal, mass infrastructure destruction has made collecting data increasingly difficult for the health ministry in the war-torn strip.

“The Ministry has had to augment its usual reporting, based on people dying in its hospitals or brought in dead, with information from reliable media sources and first responders. This change has inevitably degraded the detailed data recorded previously. Conse-quently, the Gaza Health Ministry now reports separately the number of unidentified bodies among the total death toll,” the authors of the report said.

As of May 10, 2024, 30 percent of the 35,091 deaths were unidentified, according to the report but the journal warned that the number of reported deaths is likely an underesti-mate.

The authors of the report cited non-governmental organization Airwars which undertakes detailed assessments of incidents in the Gaza Strip. According to the report, the organization “often finds that not all names of identifiable victims are included in the ministry’s list.”

The report also said the number of bodies still buried under the rubble is estimated to be more than 10,000 as 35 percent of buildings in the Gaza Strip had been destroyed by February 29, 2024, according to UN estimates.

“Armed conflicts have indirect health implications beyond the direct harm from violence,” the report stated. “Even if the conflict ends immediately, there will continue to be many indirect deaths in the coming months and years from causes such as reproductive, communicable, and non-communicable diseases. The total death toll is expected to be large given the intensity of this conflict; destroyed health-care infrastructure; severe shortages of food, water, and shelter; the population’s inability to flee to safe places; and the loss of funding to UNRWA, one of the very few humanitarian organisations still active in the Gaza Strip.”

The report authors called for “an immediate and urgent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip” as well as “measures to enable the distribution of medical supplies, food, clean water, and other resources for basic human needs.”

The authors also said that the only organization counting the number of deaths is the Gaza health ministry.

“These data will be crucial for post-war recovery, restoring infrastructure, and planning humanitarian aid,” the report concluded.

Read more:

Israeli forces step up military pressure on Gaza amid new ceasefire bid

UN ‘appalled’ by Israel’s forced evacuation orders as strikes on Gaza continue

Episcopal Church protests closure of its Gaza hospital by Israeli evacuation orders

Top Content Trending