Hamas’s ‘impossible’ casualty figures imply zero male civilians have been killed in Gaza, say data scientists

More experts show how the Hamas claim that 70 per cent of casualties are women and children is ‘statistically impossible’


More than half of the buildings in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed since October 7 (Photo: Jack Guez/AFP)

A Gaza Ministry of Health claim that 70 per cent of all casualties from the ongoing conflict are women and children – a figure widely cited in the West including in a BBC factcheck last month – is “statistically impossible”, according to a new report.

As recently as 29 February, Gaza’s Ministry of Health announced that the ongoing war has resulted in 30,022 Gazan casualties, 70 per cent of whom are women and children. The ministry has regularly claimed in reports that a steady 70 per cent of all deaths are women and children, going as far back as 11 December, 2023.

The new report, compiled by economist and population models expert Tom Simpson, biomathematician Lewi Stone and international law expert Gregory Rose, was published on and has called the figures released by the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry “not reliable at all”.

It follows other reports, including one by statistician Abraham Wyner earlier this month, which have also cast doubt on the figures coming out of Gaza.

The authors note that it is not the purpose of the report to minimise the suffering of the people of Gaza or to suggest that the death toll has not been considerable.

But, they say, “statistics pertaining to the present war all come from organisations operating under the Hamas government. This has led to significant debate about the reliability of both the total death count and its constituent makeup in terms of combatants and civilian men, women, and children. This paper demonstrates that the casualty figures concerning women and children are statistically impossible.”

They add that “it should be kept in mind that the Gazan Health Ministry operates under the auspices of the Hamas government, giving it a vested interest in delegitimising Israel and demonising the IDF.

“Ultimately, the Health Ministry published data is disinformation. It is impossible to consider these numbers true, reliable or even feasible.”
The report highlights several oddities and statistical anomalies in the reporting of casualties. It first suggests that the Health Ministry relies on fabricating the make-up of unregistered deaths to inflate the proportion of women and children who have been killed.

Casualty figures are from two sources, the first of which is Gaza’s own hospital-registered deaths, which “at least involve a recording process with a pretence of verification”. According to these statistics, hospital-registered deaths contain substantially fewer women and children than implied by the 70 per cent figure.
“For instance, a Health Ministry report released on 3 March showed that since the start of the war only 58 per cent of the hospital-registered deaths are women and children. If we restrict analysis to 2024 deaths alone, this figure drops all the way down to 42 per cent. This is still a large proportion, but it should be remembered that women and children (the latter defined as persons under 18 years of age) make up of 75 per cent of Gaza’s population. As such, this 42 per cent figure actually reflects a significant avoidance of civilian casualties on the part of the IDF.”

According to a 29 February Health Ministry report, of 30,228 total deaths, only 17,285 were identified and registered in hospitals, while 12,943 (43 per cent) were unregistered, and “collected solely from ‘reliable media sources’, though the ministry doesn’t cite or say which sources those are,” say the report’s authors.

The report suggests these unregistered deaths could be manipulated to contain a far higher proportion of women and children to make up the shortfall and reach the 70 per cent stat.

Between October 7 and 31 December, 21,978 Gazans died, of which 15,349 were registered at hospitals and 6,629 came from unregistered “media sources”.

The report says: “The hospital women and children death ratio was 60 per cent. Using the Health Ministry’s ‘rule’ that 70 per cent of total dead are women and children, we can calculate the implied ratio of women and children deaths in the unregistered ‘media sources’ category, which turns out to be 92 per cent. This 92 per cent figure is statistically absurd. It would mean the IDF targeted women and children with impossible efficacy while going out of its way to avoid killing men.”

The report also points out that if 70 per cent of the dead are women and children, while Hamas admits to losing 6,000 of its male combatants, that would mean that almost no male civilians have been killed.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive