Israel-Gaza War Death Toll Likely Exceeds 34,000, Health Ministry Says

The Israel-Gaza war has taken a devastating toll, with the death toll likely much higher than reported. Rescue efforts are hampered by destruction, lack of resources, and the Israeli siege, underscoring the urgent need for international intervention.

Hadeel Hashem
New Update
Israel-Gaza War Death Toll Likely Exceeds 34,000, Health Ministry Says

Israel-Gaza War Death Toll Likely Exceeds 34,000, Health Ministry Says

The death toll in the nearly seven-month Israel-Gaza war is likely much higher than the 34,000 reported by Gaza's Palestinian health authorities, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. Midhat Abbas, a spokesman for the Gaza health ministry, stated that the actual death toll is difficult to determine due to the collapsed health system and the challenge of recovering bodies from the vast number of destroyed buildings.

The report notes that hospitals, emergency services, and communications in Gaza are barely operating, making it an enormous task to extract bodies while the war continues. Abbas estimates that 1,200 people, including 500 minors, are believed to be trapped under the rubble of destroyed buildings, awaiting rescue or recovery. The rescue efforts are hampered by a shortage of critical supplies, the scale of destruction, and the impact of the Israeli siege on Gaza, which has cut off access to water, power, and fuel.

Why this matters: The staggering death toll and the dire situation in Gaza highlight the devastating human cost of the ongoing conflict. The discovery of mass graves and the challenges faced by rescue workers underscore the urgent need for international intervention and humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people.

The nearly seven-month war has taken a devastating toll on Gaza's residents, with the reported death toll representing roughly 1.5% of the total pre-war population, though the exact breakdown between combatants and civilians is unclear. The conflict began on October 7, 2023, when Hamas launched a surprise attack on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. In response, Israel declared a state of war, tightened its blockade, and launched one of the deadliest and most destructive bombing campaigns in modern history, before commencing a ground invasion on October 27 with the stated objective of destroying Hamas and controlling the Gaza Strip.

The United Nations has called for an independent, effective, and transparent investigation into the discovery of mass graves at two Gaza hospitals that were besieged and raided by Israeli troops this year. A mass grave with 324 bodies was uncovered at the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis, and at least 381 bodies were recovered from the vicinity of the Al Shifa hospital complex. The Israeli military has denied burying the bodies, stating that they only examined the bodies buried by Palestinians to look for possible hostages.

The war has had significant international repercussions, with large protests across the world and condemnation from the Islamic world and much of the Global South. Israel has received significant support from its Western allies, notably the United States, which has provided extensive military aid and vetoed multiple UN Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire. The US State Department has expressed concern over the discovery of the mass graves and is inquiring with the Government of Israel about the matter.

As the conflict continues, rescue workers strive to find survivors and recover bodies, often using only basic tools like shovels and pickaxes. The targeting of rescue services has further compounded the challenges, with an airstrike killing seven paramedics as they prepared for a rescue mission. "We are working with our bare hands," said a rescue worker quoted in the Wall Street Journal report, highlighting the desperate pleas for help from the Palestinian authorities and rescue teams.

Key Takeaways

  • Death toll in Israel-Gaza war likely much higher than 34,000 reported
  • Rescue efforts hampered by destruction, lack of supplies, and Israeli siege
  • UN calls for investigation into mass graves found at Gaza hospitals
  • US expresses concern over mass graves, inquiring with Israeli government
  • Rescue workers struggle to find survivors and recover bodies with limited tools