With every update on the Israel-Hamas war, Western news outlets cite unverified figures about Palestinian casualties, although they have at least begun to caveat that these statistics are produced by the terrorist group’s own health ministry. These numbers remain the main source for the claims (which the numbers alone would not substantiate even if they were accurate) that the IDF needs to exercise more restraint, or that it is committing “war crimes” and “atrocities.” Lenny Ben-David carefully exposes the holes in the data presented by Hamas:
Hamas claimed in 2023, as of [November 30], that 15,000 Gazans were killed: 6,150 (41 percent) were children, and 4,000 were women (26 percent). The press, editorial writers, and government officials worldwide have reported and repeated these figures as gospel. Hamas claimed that the remaining 5,000 (33 percent) dead were men—both combatants and civilians.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated that 4,000 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters died in the fighting as of November 16. That number shakes the Hamas ministry’s current statistics to the core. Israel repeatedly warned Gazan residents of north Gaza to evacuate their homes. Leaflets were dropped in their neighborhoods, and even private phone calls were made by IDF Arabic-speaking soldiers. An estimated one million Gazans took the warnings seriously and avoided Hamas attempts to keep them in the north as human shields. Lower casualty rates of women and children should have reflected their leaving the north.
That the figures show combatant casualties to be a small minority of the total dead, rather than the majority, makes them very difficult to believe. Ben-David presents other evidence, as does Salo Aizenberg in this even more detailed breakdown, where he shows that the statistics literally fail to add up.