More than 30,000 people were killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry
  • By Yolande Knell
  • BBC News, Jerusalem

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Most of those killed are believed to be women and children

More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

That number equates to about 1.3% of the territory's population of 2.3 million — the latest grim marker of the war's worst toll.

The ministry says most of those killed were women and children.

Its statistics do not distinguish between civilians and combatants when identifying those killed.

In its daily update on Thursday, the ministry said 81 people had been killed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 30,035.

With thousands more lost under the rubble of buildings hit by Israeli airstrikes, the actual death toll is likely to be much higher as it does not include those who did not make it to hospitals.

More than 70,000 wounded were registered by the Gaza Ministry of Health (MoH), the only official source of casualties. Its data is cited by UN agencies and other international organizations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has “long-standing collaboration” with the Gaza organization and that it has “good capacity in data collection/analysis”. Its earlier report was considered credible and “well developed” by the UN agency.

When comparing the current death toll to previous data recorded by the UN from past conflicts in Gaza, the WHO notes that “it clearly shows a growing civilian population with a high proportion of children and women casualties.”

Asked for its estimate of the death toll and the breakdown of civilians and militants, Israel's military told the BBC only that “the number of terrorists killed was approximately 10,000”.

In order for a Palestinian death to be registered in Gaza, a corpse or remains must be viewed by hospital staff or medical personnel. At the end of each day, hospitals send a list of all casualties at known locations – including names, identification numbers, dates of injury or death, and details of injuries and condition – to the centralized MoH system. Its operators are now based in Rafah.

The Palestinian Red Cross also provides data.

During this war, reporting statistics was more difficult than ever due to overcrowded morgues, fighting in hospitals and clinics, and poor internet and telephone connectivity.

However, if a long-term ceasefire is agreed or the war ends, efforts to recover bodies and trace the missing should allow a clearer picture of the number of casualties, including the number of combatants, to emerge. UN And expect rights groups and the Israeli military to conduct their own investigations.

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The death toll was about 1.3% of the territory's population

A persistent criticism of the existing figures is that they do not take into account how many Palestinians were killed – be it the result of Israeli airstrikes, artillery shelling or other means such as errant Palestinian rockets. All casualties are currently counted as victims of “Israeli occupation”.

In recent days, the Gaza MoH has highlighted several cases of what the WHO calls “indirect deaths” – people dying as a result of the war, but not directly because of the fighting.

On Wednesday, it said six children died of dehydration and malnutrition in hospitals in northern Gaza. Two were at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and four at Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahiya City.

The UN warns that a quarter of Gaza's population is now at risk of famine, and that infectious diseases have increased dramatically due to a general lack of medicine and lack of medical care.

The war began on October 7 when thousands of Hamas fighters entered southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages.

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