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The Gaza casualty count: Propaganda vs. reality

1 min

The Hamas Ministry of Health announced a staggering death toll of 34,454 in the Gaza Strip since the conflict with Israel began on October 7th. This figure has been widely reported by international media, but the reliability of these numbers has come under scrutiny.

Ahmed Houndy © Mena Today 

The Hamas Ministry of Health announced a staggering death toll of 34,454 in the Gaza Strip since the conflict with Israel began on October 7th. This figure has been widely reported by international media, but the reliability of these numbers has come under scrutiny.

It's important to note that the 'Ministry of Health' in Gaza is operated by Hamas, an organization that both the United States and the European Union classify as a terrorist organization. The authenticity of the data provided is challenging to verify due to the lack of a civil registry and death certificates in Gaza, which complicates accurate casualty counting.

The figures released by Hamas have been quickly picked up and circulated by global media outlets, often without in-depth verification, turning potentially skewed data into a tool of propaganda. This uncritical dissemination raises questions about the role of journalism in conflict zones.

A true count of the casualties will likely only be possible after the conflict ends. Current estimations suggest that about 12,000 fighters from Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been killed since the conflict's onset. For civilians, expert estimates suggest the death toll could be between 15,000 and 17,000, based on the intensity and nature of the warfare in a densely populated area.

The vast discrepancy between the numbers provided by Hamas and those estimated by experts underscores the complexities of reporting in war conditions. This situation highlights the critical need for rigorous verification of information before it is reported, to avoid misinformation and its potential consequences on public perception and policy.

These insights into the reporting and verification processes remind us of the significant challenges faced in conflict zones and the importance of maintaining integrity in data handling and media reporting.

By Ahmed Houndy. The author is a specialist in humanitarian law and teaches at a university in Zurich

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