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How Does Gaza’s Ministry of Health Calculate The Death Toll?

As Israel intensifies its bombardment of the Gaza Strip, the death toll in this tiny Palestinian enclave has surged, surpassing 10,000 lives lost. With Gazan borders sealed by Israel, the primary official source for casualty figures is Gaza’s Ministry of Health. This agency, under the control of the Hamas government, plays a crucial role in supervising health services in the region and estimating casualties. Its figures are cited by news organizations, human rights groups, and international bodies, including the United Nations.

Control and Operation of the Ministry

The health ministry in Gaza is under the control of the Hamas government, though it operates independently from political and security agencies. The Palestinian Authority (PA), which ruled over Gaza until Hamas defeated it in the 2006 elections, retains authority over health and education services in the region. While the PA administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, it continues to provide medical support to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, including equipment, salary payments, and handling patient transfers from Gaza to Israeli hospitals.

Health Minister Mai al-Kaila oversees parallel ministries, receiving data from hospitals. The ministry comprises recent Hamas hires and civil servants affiliated with the secular nationalist Fatah party, which dominates the PA.

Calculating the Death Toll

Hospital administrators in Gaza meticulously record every wounded person and deceased individual, entering this data into a computerized system shared with the health ministry’s spokesperson, Ashraf al-Qidra. Despite connectivity challenges, al-Qidra and his colleagues double-check the numbers. The ministry also supplements its data with information from sources such as the Palestinian Red Crescent. Regular updates provide the number of dead and wounded, categorized by gender and age, although specific details like names, ages, and locations are usually withheld.

The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants, leaving this determination to subsequent investigations by the UN, rights groups, and militant organizations. Notably, on October 27, the ministry released a comprehensive report listing every Palestinian killed in the conflict, including names, ID numbers, ages, and genders, responding to doubts raised by the United States regarding the accuracy of the figures.

Reliability of the Data

According to Human Rights Watch, a New York-based NGO, the ministry’s figures are generally accurate, with no major errors found in past investigations of Gazan casualties. In previous conflicts between Israel and Hamas, international organizations such as the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Palestinian Red Crescent have relied on these figures.

In the complex and volatile landscape of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Gaza Ministry of Health remains a critical source of information, shedding light on the human toll of the ongoing violence.

For more updates stay tuned to FELA News!

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