The Lancet: Gaza death toll could reach 186,000

GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 7: People mourn as bodies of Palestinians, who died due to Israeli army attack on Al-Sabra neighborhood, after taken to Al Mamedani Hospital to be buried following the funeral ceremony in Gaza City, Gaza on July 7, 2024. ( Hamza Qraiqea - Anadolu Agency )

The death toll in Gaza as a result of Israeli military attacks could reach 186,000 people, the respected medical journal The Lancet has reported. 

In a new article, the peer-reviewed journal said it arrived at that figure by multiplying the current death toll by the number of expected indirect deaths.

“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,” The Lancet said.

“The total death toll is expected to be large given the intensity of this conflict; destroyed health-care 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 organisations still active in the Gaza Strip.

“In recent conflicts, such indirect deaths range from three to 15 times the number of direct deaths. Applying a conservative estimate of four indirect deaths per one direct death to the 37, 396 deaths reported, it is not implausible to estimate that up to 186, 000 or even more deaths could be attributable to the current conflict in Gaza.

“Using the 2022 Gaza Strip population estimate of 2, 375 259, this would translate to 7·9% of the total population in the Gaza Strip.”

The Lancet said that the June 19 death toll of 37, 396 people killed in the Gaza Strip since October 7, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, is most likely accurate (or an underestimate) because it is supported by independent analyses.

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It noted that the Ministry’s figures have been contested by the Israeli authorities, but have been accepted as accurate by Israeli intelligence services, the UN and WHO.

Furthermore, the UN estimates that, by February 29, 2024, 35% of buildings in the Gaza Strip had been destroyed, so the number of bodies still buried in the rubble is likely substantial, with estimates of more than 10, 000.

The Lancet concluded: “An immediate and urgent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip is essential, accompanied by measures to enable the distribution of medical supplies, food, clean water, and other resources for basic human needs. At the same time, there is a need to record the scale and nature of suffering in this conflict. Documenting the true scale is crucial for ensuring historical accountability and acknowledging the full cost of the war. It is also a legal requirement…

“The Gaza Health Ministry is the only organisation counting the dead. Furthermore, these data will be crucial for post-war recovery, restoring infrastructure, and planning humanitarian aid.”

GAZA CITY, GAZA – JULY 7: People perform funeral prayers for Palestinians, who died due to Israeli army attack on Al-Sabra neighborhood, after bodies are brought to Al Mamedani Hospital to be buried in Gaza City, Gaza on July 7, 2024. ( Hamza Qraiqea – Anadolu Agency )

Meanwhile, at least 55 more Palestinians were killed in Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip today, taking the overall death toll to 38,153 people since last October 7, the Health Ministry in the enclave said on Sunday.

A ministry statement added that 87,828 people have also been injured in the onslaught.

Flouting a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire, Israel has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza.

Nine months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, whose latest ruling ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its operation in the southern city of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on May 6.

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