Staggering new estimate of more than 186,000 killings in Gaza revives allegations of war crimes — Global Issues


  • by Thalif Deen (United Nations)
  • Inter Press Service

In recent conflicts, the article titled “Counting the Dead in Gaza: Difficult but Essential” states, the number of indirect deaths is three to fifteen times higher than the number of direct deaths.

“If we apply a conservative estimate of four indirect deaths per direct death to the 37,396 reported deaths, it is not improbable to estimate that up to 186,000 or even more deaths could be attributable to the current conflict in Gaza,” The Lancet said.

The rampant killings in Gaza are in retaliation for the 1,200 deaths Hamas committed in Israel on October 7.

Dr Simon Adams, President and CEO of the Centre for Victims of Torture, the largest international organisation treating survivors and advocating for an end to torture worldwide, told IPS: “Since the beginning of this war, Israel’s military operations in Gaza have consistently violated the international legal principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution”.

The result is incalculable civilian suffering in Gaza. It is impossible to have an accurate death toll when so many bodies remain buried under the rubble, or literally torn to pieces as Israel continues to launch airstrikes on residential buildings, hospitals and even UN schools sheltering displaced and vulnerable civilians, he pointed out.

“The collective punishment of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government is a war crime. Their actions have made it impossible to give an accurate death toll. But I certainly trust the evidence from The Lancet more than I trust any press release from the Israeli Defense Forces,” Dr. Adams said.

Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), told IPS that estimates of conflict mortality rates are the standard method for determining the true number of deaths caused by war, and have unfortunately proven to be all too accurate.

“If Israel continues to indiscriminately bomb and starve the Palestinian people, we can expect the real death toll to exceed 200,000, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of wounded and traumatized people who will suffer in the coming decades,” she stated.

Nihal Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said:

“We all know that the true death toll from Israel’s genocide in Gaza is much higher than reported. These new data from respected researchers add yet another piece of evidence showing that genocide is taking place in Gaza and that international action is needed to end the suffering and bring justice to the Palestinian people.” This realistic death toll, he pointed out, is supported by new reports that Israeli forces are free to kill civilians and destroy homes, without any of the rules of engagement required by international law. “The Biden administration — which is enabling genocide, ethnic cleansing and forced starvation — must act to stop this growing horror.” He said the Lancet figures — which estimate that nearly eight percent of Gaza’s population has been killed — would be equivalent to about 26 million Americans killed, or nearly the entire population of Texas. “President Biden and his administration have supplied Israel with weapons to commit this horrific genocide and have blocked any accountability for Israel,” Awad said.

Asked about the findings, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “As far as I know, we were not involved in this study. I think it is not surprising that the numbers are probably underestimated, given that the rubble and debris still have to be cleared. But whatever number we say, it is tragic, overwhelming and even hard to imagine.”

According to The Lancet, using the Gaza Strip’s 2022 population estimate of 2,375,259 would amount to 7.9% of the Gaza Strip’s total population.

According to a report dated February 7, 2024, when the immediate death toll was still 28,000, without a ceasefire there would have been between 58,260 deaths (without an epidemic or escalation) and 85,750 deaths (if both occurred) by August 6, 2024, according to the Lancet, which sets extremely high standards for its research reports.

Armed conflict, says The Lancet, has indirect health consequences that go beyond the direct harm of violence. Even if the conflict were to end immediately, many indirect deaths would still occur in the months and years to come from causes such as reproductive, infectious and non-infectious diseases.

The total death toll is expected to be high, given the intensity of the conflict; the destruction of health infrastructure; the severe shortages of food, water and shelter; the inability of the population to flee to safety; and the loss of funding for UNRWA, one of the few humanitarian agencies still operating in the Gaza Strip.

An immediate and urgent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip is essential, accompanied by measures to allow the distribution of medical supplies, food, clean water and other resources for basic needs.

At the same time, there is a need to document the scale and nature of the suffering in this conflict. Documenting the true extent is crucial to ensure historical accountability and acknowledge the full costs of the war. It is also a legal requirement.

The provisional measures adopted by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in January 2024 require Israel to “take effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence relating to allegations of acts within the scope of … the Genocide Convention.”

IPS UN Office Report

Follow IPS News UN Bureau on Instagram

© Inter Press Service (2024) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top