UN Cuts Estimate of Children Killed in Gaza by 50%; Blames ‘Fog of War’ for Errors

The United Nations has cut its estimate of Palestinian children killed in Gaza by half, calling into question the figures frequently used by international news outlets and governments to criticize Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post reported on Saturday:

On May 6, the UN published data showing that 34,735 people had reportedly been killed in Gaza, including over 9,500 women and over 14,500 children.
On May 8, the UN published data showing 34,844 people had reportedly been killed, including 4,959 women and 7,797 children.

This comes after months of accusations from leading statisticians that the numbers produced by the Gazan authorities cannot possibly be accurate.

David Adesnik, the Senior Fellow and Director of Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, responded: “This change may signal that the UN has finally recognized the lack of evidence behind Hamas’s original claims that more than 14,000 children and 9,000 women have been killed in Gaza. If so, the UN should state clearly that it has lost confidence in sources whose credibility it has affirmed for months. While this change may only reflect the conclusion of one UN office out of the many operating in Gaza, it is a clear step forward.”

The Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) asked UN officials about the change. The UN blamed the “fog of war”:

JNS asked Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, at a press conference on Friday why the math doesn’t add up.|
“The revisions are taken … you know, of course, in the fog of war, it’s difficult to come up with numbers,” Haq told JNS. “We get numbers from different sources on the ground, and then we try to cross check them. As we cross check them, we update the numbers, and we’ll continue to do that as that progresses.”

On Monday, Israeli government spokesman Avi Hyman said that Israel’s “genuine estimate” of the number of casualties in Gaza was 14,000 terrorists and 16,000 civilians.

Media outlets repeatedly cite casualty figures from Gaza’s health ministry, which is controlled by Hamas, that show thousands more casualties and do not distinguish between deaths of civilians or terrorists, or between those killed by errant Palestinian rockets and those killed by Israeli fire.

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that “it was reasonable to assess that, in certain instances, Israel acted in ways that are not consistent with international humanitarian law.”

He was citing a State Department report that actually found the opposite — that “it is difficult to assess or reach conclusive findings on individual incidents.”

The report only said that claims of violations of international law were “reasonable” because of the number of U.S.-made weapons that Israel uses — i.e. “given Israel’s significant reliance on U.S.-made defense articles.”

Hyman responded Monday: “Israel adheres to international humanitarian law. Israel adheres to the law of armed conflict. Our fight is with Hamas and not the people of Gaza. We do the utmost to avoid civilian casualties while going after Hamas, which must be destroyed.” He added that allegations to the contrary had “clearly not been proven,” and  that Israel “will continue to fight the moral fight against Hamas in Gaza.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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