Gaza death toll could exceed 186,000: Lancet analysis

Yasmine Osama Farag , Wednesday 10 Jul 2024

The actual Palestinian death toll in Gaza could exceed 186,000 people, according to an analysis published by The Lancet medical journal.

Palestinians mourn over the bodies of loved ones following Israeli bombardment in Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on July 10, 2024 .AFP


The analysis, published in The Lancet’s correspondence section, said the official number of reported deaths in Gaza is likely an underestimate due to many factors.

These include not taking into account thousands of dead buried under the rubble and the indirect deaths caused by destroyed healthcare 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 organizations still active in the Gaza Strip.

The official Gaza death toll since 7 October exceeds 38,000 people, according to the Palestinian health ministry which is facing increasing difficulties in collecting data due to the destruction of much of Gaza’s infrastructure, according to the study.

The researchers explained that in light of recent conflict findings, such indirect deaths range from three to 15 times the number of direct deaths.

After applying a conservative estimate of four indirect deaths per one direct death to the 37,396 deaths in Gaza reported on 19 June, it is not implausible to estimate that up to 186,000 or even more deaths could be attributable to the current war in Gaza.

"Using the 2022 Gaza Strip population estimate of 2,375,259, this number would translate to 7.9 percent of the total population in the Gaza Strip," the study said.

The researchers also indicated that 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,” they said.

The study stressed the need to document the true scale and nature of suffering in Gaza to ensure historical accountability and acknowledge the full cost of the war.

Furthermore, it said these data will be crucial for post-war recovery, restoring infrastructure, and planning humanitarian aid.

The study also pointed to the International Court of Justice rulings in January which ordered Israel to “take effective measures to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza."

Starvation campaign
UN rights experts on Tuesday accused Israel of carrying out a "targeted starvation campaign" that has resulted in the deaths of children in Gaza.
"Israel's intentional and targeted starvation campaign against the Palestinian people is a form of genocidal violence and has resulted in famine across all of Gaza," 10 independent United Nations experts said in a statement.
"Thirty-four Palestinians have died from malnutrition since 7 October, the majority being children," said the experts, who are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council.
The UN experts listed three children who had recently died "from malnutrition" after many others were said to have starved to death in northern Gaza earlier in 2024.
Six-month-old Fayez Ataya and 13-year-old Abdulqader Al-Serhi died on 30 May and 1 June at Gaza's Al-Aqsa Hospital, while nine-year-old Ahmad Abu-Reida died on 3 June in the tent sheltering his displaced family in Khan Younis, they said.
"With the death of these children from starvation despite medical treatment in central Gaza, there is no doubt that famine has spread from northern Gaza into central and southern Gaza," they added.
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