Gaza war: UN defends casualty tally amid Israeli anger

The UN humanitarian aid chief, Martin Griffiths, stood behind the organization’s Gaza death toll statistics by saying that they were “very cautious” in their approach, according to a BBC report from last week.

Israel recently reported that UN estimates of Gazan female and child fatalities were less than stated. UN data is most likely based on the data of the Hamas-run Government Media Office (GMO).

The UN reported 69% of the fatalities in Gaza since October 7 were women and children, but on May 8, they reduced it to 52%.

Hamas-run Health Ministry

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) put the reduction down to incomplete information which was subsequently revised, according to the report.

The UN claims to now be using figures from the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza rather than the Government Media Office (GMO).

ISRAEL’S AMBASSADOR to the UN Gilad Erdan shows a video of the Iranian missile attack as he addresses members of the Security Council during a meeting on the situation in the Middle East, at UN headquarters in New York City, on Sunday. (credit: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

Griffiths said, “Gaza is a war zone, and the collection of data and statistics, while admirable and necessary, is first of all secondary to actually delivering some aid and, secondly, very difficult in cases of insecurity and violence.”

“So… be realistic, please, about what’s possible in the middle of what we’re seeing in Gaza. I think we are very cautious about these figures, and I think it’s not right to blame the messenger who is trying to get the truth out of what is a very, very complicated situation,” Griffiths added.

On 6 May, OCHA reported 34,735 deaths – of which there were more than 9,500 women and more than 14,500 children, citing the Hamas-run GMO as its source, said the BBC.

Two days later, the UN switched its primary source to the Health Ministry, resulting in the number of registered deaths of women and children falling significantly. The overall death toll remained unchanged.

Reacting to this change in estimates, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to step down.

Mr Katz posted on

“Anyone who relies on fake data from a terrorist organization in order to promote blood libels against Israel is antisemitic and supports terrorism. @antonioguterres, resign!”

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