Examining Israel’s assertion that it has killed 10,000 Hamas fighters in Gaza

Following the reports of at least 30,000 Palestinian dead in Gaza, Israel is under increasing pressure to demonstrate that it is carrying out its commitment to destroy Hamas, which it made on October 7. BBC Verify investigates Israel’s claims regarding the proportion of combatants killed. The Israeli military claims that throughout its airstrikes and ground operations in retaliation for the 1,200-person Hamas offensive, it has killed almost 10,000 combatants.


However, there are doubts about its ability to distinguish between fighters and regular citizens. In December, President Joe Biden stated that although the US and the rest of the world supported Israel, “they’re starting to lose that support by the indiscriminate bombing that takes place”. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have continuously defended their strategies, emphasizing that they aim to minimize civilian casualties while being as accurate as possible in its targeting of Hamas fighters and infrastructure. Regarding the number of its military deaths, Hamas does not give any data. An officer was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying that 6,000 fighters had died, although Hamas refuted this claim to the BBC.


Richard Brennan, regional emergency director for the World Health Organization (WHO), has previously deemed the death toll of at least 30,035 from Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry to be credible. According to the WHO, the ministry has “good capacity in data collection” and has produced reliable, “well-developed” reports in the past. However, the total number of deaths it records does not differentiate between combatants and civilians.


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