Gaza death count ‘systematically manipulated’ by Hamas, report shows

Significant discrepancies were recorded even among Hamas-run ministries themselves, the report by The Washington Institute for Near East Policy reveals.

By World Israel News Staff

As some international media outlets and NGOs continue to repeat Hamas-released death count figures without caveats, a recently released report by The Washington Institute for Near East Policy reveals how the count is “inconsistent, imprecise, and systematically manipulated”.

“Although thousands of Palestinian noncombatants, including military-age males, have undoubtedly been killed in the Hamas-initiated conflict, the world must also recognize that the group has manipulated and exploited civilian fatality claims for its strategic benefit, in an attempt to truncate Israel’s air and ground operations and stir international outrage,” the report’s author, researcher Gabriel Epstein, wrote.

According to the report, initially Hamas’s casualty numbers were closely aligned with those from the UN and Israel, lending them credibility among international bodies. However, the report indicates a decline in the accuracy and reliability of these figures following the IDF’s ground operation beginning on October 27.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry stopped documenting deaths on November 10 and resumed on December 2, but with far less identifying elements of those killed.

The report cautions against using the total number of male casualties as a direct indicator of combatant deaths, noting the potential for underreporting and manipulation, especially highlighted by inconsistencies in the death toll from specific incidents, such as the al-Ahli Hospital explosion.

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“Even as most combatants are men, most Gazan men are still civilians, rendering the overall number of men killed an imperfect proxy for Hamas fighters,” Epstein notes.

Discrepancies grew post-ground invasion, with notable adjustments in male fatality figures and changes in the gender distribution of casualties. The report underscores the challenges in relying on figures from northern Gaza, suggesting skepticism towards the Health Ministry’s numbers due to their unverified nature and the unlikely inclusion of militant deaths.

Significant discrepancies were recorded even among Hamas-run ministries themselves. For example, the Hamas-run Health Ministry recorded 5,577 adult men killed through November 12, while the Hamas-run Government Media Office (GMO) put that number at 4,212, a difference of 1,381.

On December 31, the GMO reported 6,600 women killed while the Health Ministry reported 4,659 – a difference of 1,941.

According to IDF estimates, which the report said should also be treated with skepticism because of the fog of war, some 9,000 Hamas combatants – 30% of its fighting force – have been killed. The IDF statistics “underlines the enormous gap between Hamas and Israeli claims, particularly since many of the 6,088 men the Health Ministry reported in the death toll on December 31 were inevitably civilians,” the report said.