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Gaza Death Toll May Have Exceeded 200,000, Five Times Higher Than Official Figure – New Study

Gaza Death Toll May Have Exceeded 200,000, Five Times Higher Than Official Figure – New Study

A recent study published in The Lancet medical journal suggests that the actual death toll in Gaza may be significantly higher than the reported 37,396, potentially exceeding 186,000.

The study, conducted by researchers from the UK, US, and Canada, takes into account “indirect deaths” in addition to direct casualties.

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Indirect deaths include those caused by disease, hunger, thirst, and exposure, which are often overlooked in conflict mortality estimates.

While the Gaza Health Ministry’s figures are widely accepted by the UN and acknowledged by the Israeli military, the Israeli government has publicly disputed them. The study’s findings indicate a potentially much higher toll from Israel’s war on Hamas.

“In recent conflicts, such indirect deaths range from three to 15 times the number of direct deaths,” the article read. “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.”

“Collecting data is becoming increasingly difficult for the Gaza Health Ministry due to the destruction of much of the infrastructure. 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. Consequently, the Gaza Health Ministry now reports separately the number of unidentified bodies among the total death toll. As of May 10, 2024, 30% of the 35, 091 deaths were unidentified.

“Some officials and news agencies have used this development, designed to improve data quality, to undermine the veracity of the data. However, the number of reported deaths is likely an underestimate.

“The non-governmental organisation Airwars undertakes detailed assessments of incidents in the Gaza Strip and often finds that not all names of identifiable victims are included in the Ministry’s list.

“Furthermore, the UN estimates that, by Feb 29, 2024, 35% of buildings in the Gaza Strip had been destroyed,5 so the number of bodies still buried in the rubble is likely substantial, with estimates of more than 10 000.

“Armed conflicts have indirect health implications beyond the direct harm from violence. 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 added, “in recent conflicts, such indirect deaths range from three 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.

“Using the 2022 Gaza Strip population estimate of 2 375 259, this would translate to 7·9% of the total population in the Gaza Strip. A report from Feb 7, 2024, at the time when the direct death toll was 28 000, estimated that without a ceasefire there would be between 58, 260 deaths (without an epidemic or escalation) and 85, 750 deaths (if both occurred) by Aug 6, 2024.”

With the population of Gaza around 2.3 million before the conflict began, such a death toll translates to the enclave losing between 7% and 9% of its population.

“An immediate and urgent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip is essential, accompanied by measures to enable the distribution of medical supplies, food, clean water, and other resources for basic human needs,” the authors argued, adding that Israel is required by the International Court of Justice to document and preserve evidence that could implicate it in genocide.

Israel is facing mounting international pressure to end its nine-month military campaign in Gaza, with Hamas accepting a US-backed ceasefire proposal.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists that any agreement must allow Israel to resume fighting until it achieves its war goals, including destroying Hamas’ military capabilities.

While both sides agree on a phased prisoner exchange, Hamas demands written guarantees from international mediators that Israel will continue negotiating a permanent ceasefire after the initial phase.

Despite mediation efforts by Qatar, Egypt, and the US, a truce and hostage release have yet to be secured, following a brief ceasefire in November that freed 105 hostages from Gaza and 240 Palestinian prisoners.

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