The Hamas-run Health Ministry says more than 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza

  • Written by Yolande Knell
  • BBC News, Jerusalem

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The majority of those killed are believed to be women and children

The Hamas-run Health Ministry says more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7.

This figure equates to about 1.3% of the region's population of 2.3 million people, and is the latest grim sign of this war's heavy toll.

The ministry says that the majority of those killed were women and children.

Its numbers do not differentiate between civilians and combatants when determining the dead.

The ministry said in its daily update on Thursday that 81 people were killed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 30,035.

The actual death toll is likely to be much higher because the number does not include those who did not reach hospitals, including thousands of people still missing under the rubble of buildings hit by Israeli air strikes.

More than 70,000 wounded have been registered by the Gaza Ministry of Health, the only official source of casualties. Its data is transmitted by United Nations agencies and other international institutions.

The WHO says it has “long-term cooperation” with the organization in Gaza and has “good data collection/analysis capacity.” Its previous reports have been deemed credible and “well developed” by the UN agency.

The World Health Organization notes that when the current distribution of deaths is compared with previous data recorded by the United Nations from previous conflicts in Gaza, “it clearly shows an increasing number of civilians being killed, with a higher proportion of deaths among children and women.”

In response to a question about its assessment of the number of deaths and the distribution of civilians and fighters, the Israeli army told the BBC that “the number of terrorists killed is about 10,000.”

In order for a Palestinian death to be registered in Gaza, the body or remains must be seen by hospital staff or medical personnel. At the end of each day, hospitals send lists of all victims, including – if known – names, identification numbers, dates of injury or death, and details of injuries and condition to a central Ministry of Health system. Its operators are now stationed in Rafah.

The Palestinian Red Crescent also contributes data.

During this war, reporting numbers has become more difficult than ever due to overflowing bodies, fighting in and around hospitals and clinics, and poor internet and phone connectivity.

However, if a long-term truce is agreed or the war ends, efforts to recover bodies and trace missing persons should allow a clearer picture of the death toll to emerge, including the numbers of combatants. The United Nations and human rights groups, as well as the Israeli military, are expected to conduct their own investigations.

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The death toll is equivalent to about 1.3% of the region's population

One persistent criticism of the current numbers is that they give no idea of ​​how Palestinians are killed – whether as a result of Israeli air strikes, artillery shelling or other means such as misfired Palestinian rockets. All victims are currently counted among the victims of “Israeli aggression.”

In recent days, the Ministry of Health in Gaza has highlighted more cases of what the World Health Organization calls “indirect deaths” — that is, people dying as a result of the war but not directly from the fighting.

She said on Wednesday that six children died of dehydration and malnutrition in hospitals in northern Gaza. Two of them are in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and four are in Kamal Adwan Hospital in the town of Beit Lahia.

The United Nations warns that a quarter of Gaza's population is now at risk of famine and that there has been a significant increase in infectious diseases exacerbated by a general shortage of medicines and lack of medical care.

The war began when thousands of Hamas fighters stormed southern Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking 253 hostage, according to Israeli statistics.

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