Gaza war: Why is the UN citing lower death toll for women and children?


The GMO says the proportion of women and children killed in the conflict is around 70%.

The UN’s latest report, citing health ministry data, says out of 24,686 fully identified fatalities, 52% were women and children, 40% were men, and 8% were “elderly”, without specifying whether they were male or female.

It isn’t clear what age the report considers to be “elderly” and how it categorises children.

We have done our own analysis of detailed data released by the health ministry, and also found that 52% of the fatalities were listed as women and children (anyone under 18). In addition, 43% were men and another 5% were “unknown” (missing information such as an age or gender).

For the GMO’s figure to be compatible with the health ministry’s data, almost all of the 10,000 deaths not fully identified by the ministry would have to have been women and children.

“It’s not logically impossible… but it really strains credibility,” says Prof Michael Spagat, who specialises in examining death tolls in conflicts around the world.

We asked the GMO why the proportion of women and children they have recorded as killed is so much higher than in the health ministry’s data, but they did not provide a direct response to the discrepancy.

We also approached the health ministry for comment.


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