Israel-Palestine: Names released of 7,028 Palestinians killed after Biden questions death toll

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A mourner reacts amidst the bodies as people attend funeral for Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on 24 October 2023 (Reuters)

The Palestinian health ministry on Thursday released the names of 7,028 people killed by Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip, a day after US President Joe Biden questioned the death toll since the war began on 7 October. 

Biden told reporters at the White House that he has “no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth” about the number of people killed by Israel so far. “I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s the price of waging a war,” he added.

In response, the health ministry published a 210-page report, detailing the names, ages, genders, and ID numbers of every person killed in the enclave. The ministry said an English version of the report will be published soon. 

Health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra said the US administration was “devoid of human standards, morals and basic human rights values” for “shamelessly” questioning the validity of the death toll. 

“We decided to go out and announce, with details and names, and in front of the entire world, the truth about the genocidal war committed by the Israeli occupation against our people,” he said. 

Between 7 October and 3pm local time on 26 October, 7,028 Palestinians were killed, including 2,913 children, the report stated.

A total of 3,129 females and 3,899 males were killed. The number of unidentified people killed stands at 218, but they are not included in the final death toll. 

The report also excludes those buried without being brought to hospital, those for whom hospitals were unable to complete registration procedures, and people missing under the rubble, who number around 1,600, with many of them feared dead. 

As such, the ministry said the actual death toll is likely to be much higher than the report stated. 

“We confirm that the doors of the Ministry of Health are open for all institutions to have access,” Qudra said in a statement. 

“Let the world know that behind every number is the story of a person whose name and identity are known. Our people are not nobodies who can be ignored.”

Despite Biden questioning the accuracy of the death toll, the HuffPost revealed that the State Department recently cited the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza in nearly 20 “situation reports”. 

‘Biden should watch some of these videos and ask himself if the crushed children being dragged out of the ruins of their family homes are a fabrication’

– Nihad Awad, CAIR’s executive director 

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said Biden’s remarks were “shocking and dehumanising” and urged him to apologise.

“Countless videos coming out of Gaza every day show mangled bodies of Palestinian women and children – and entire city blocks levelled to the ground,” Nihad Awad, CAIR’s executive director, said.

“President Biden should watch some of these videos and ask himself if the crushed children being dragged out of the ruins of their family homes are a fabrication or an acceptable price of war. They are neither.”

Many experts consider figures provided by the Palestinian ministry reliable, given its access, sources, and accuracy in past statements.

Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, told the Washington Post earlier this week the ministry’s figures are “generally proven to be reliable”.

“Everyone uses the figures from the Gaza Health Ministry because those are generally proven to be reliable,” he said. “In the times in which we have done our own verification of numbers for particular strikes, I’m not aware of any time in which there’s been some major discrepancy.”

The ongoing Israeli war on Gaza erupted on 7 October after Hamas led a Palestinian attack into southern Israel. According to Israeli officials, around 1,400 people were killed in Israel during the assault, the majority of them believed to be civilians.

At least another 220 people have been taken as prisoners in Gaza, including soldiers and civilians. Hamas has released four prisoners so far and said 50 others have been killed in Israeli air strikes.

Israel responded to the Hamas-led assault by waging a relentless bombing campaign on Gaza, and a complete siege of the territory. 

The bombardement has killed dozens of journalists, doctors, first responders, writers, artists, and footballers – among others. 

It has targeted residential buildings, hospitals, ambulances, schools, universities, media offices, mosques, a church, and banks – among other civilian infrastructure. 

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