Is death toll in war-torn Gaza real? UN investigates

The official death toll in Gaza has passed 16,200 so far, mainly women and children, since the beginning of the aggression 61 days ago. However, with the horrendous situation and images circulating, some governments and people are doubting the death toll in the besieged strip.

The spokesperson of the UN human rights office said that the UN’s “monitoring suggests that the numbers provided by the Ministry of Health do not include fatalities who did not reach hospitals or may be lost under the rubble.”

Moreover, Nathaniel Raymond, Executive Director of the Humanitarian Research Lab at the Yale School of Public Health, said that “it is a logical assumption that the numbers being reported are low.”

“Palestinian data collection capabilities are professional and many ministry staff have been trained in the United States. They work hard to ensure statistical fidelity,” he added.

Raymond has a career in death counts in armed conflict and natural disasters spanning more than 20 years.

According to Reuters, during the first six weeks of the war, hospital morgues in the besieged city sent figures to Al Shifa Hospital, the health ministry’s main collection centre.

In the hospital, they used Excel sheets to track down the names, ages, and ID card numbers of those killed by the Israeli occupation.

They then transmitted these names to the Palestinian ministry of health in Ramallah, part of the Palestinian Authority (PA), exercising limited self-rule in the illegally occupied West Bank.

However, Omar Hussein Ali, director of the Ramallah ministry’s emergency operations centre, said that the four officials responsible for the data centre are now gone.

One of them was killed in an Israeli strike on the hospital while the other three went missing during Israel’s raid of the health complex as an alleged Hamas hideout.

“The kind of casualty recording required to understand what’s going on is getting harder,” said Hamit Dardagan of Iraq Body Count, set up during the U.S.-led illegal invasion of Iraq, which killed more than one million civilians.

“Information infrastructure, the health systems that existed, are being systematically destroyed,” he added.

The Gaza death toll can never be precise, however, it will never be less than the number reported.

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