The controversy over Gaza’s death toll, explained

Amid the chaos of Israel’s assault on Gaza, the United Nations’s humanitarian office has altered how it reports fatalities in the conflict — sparking another round of debate over the toll of Israel’s war in the Palestinian territory in response to the October 7 attacks by Hamas. 

The overall reported death count likely remains very similar to what was previously known: around 35,000 people have been killed. But not all of those people’s identities have been confirmed — and among those that have, there has been a marked decrease in the number of women and children killed in the conflict and an increase in men as a proportion of those killed compared to previous estimated totals. Thousands more remain unidentified, meaning the numbers will change again as health authorities gather that information. 


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