The Gaza Ministry of Health have released a list of more than 6,700 names and ID numbers of what they describe as Palestinians killed in Gaza since the outbreak of war with Israel earlier this month. This number has been disputed by the White House.
Israel has bombed Gaza ever since Hamas, the militant group that governs the territory, unleashed a day of mayhem and murder on Israeli communities near its border on Oct. 7th, attacking soldiers and civilians in a massacre that Israel says left 1,400 people dead.
Nearly 230 hostages who were kidnapped on the same day continue to be held by Hamas, more than half of whom hold passports of countries other than Israel, and more than 50 of whom are said to be people from Thailand who may have been hired by Israel as agricultural workers.
The list of names and corresponding identification numbers from Gaza’s Ministry of Health came late Thursday in response to comments from President Biden casting doubt on the Palestinian death toll.
In total, officials in Gaza say that 7,028 have been killed so far, but several hundred bodies have not yet been identified.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby later said the White House did not dispute reports that thousands of Palestinians had been killed.
“We absolutely know that the death toll continues to rise in Gaza,” Kirby said in a briefing. “But what we’re saying is, you shouldn’t rely on numbers put forth by Hamas.”
Kirkby did not state what he would regard as a credible source of the number of deaths.
The list of the dead could not be independently verified by journalists.
With Gaza’s borders closed, it is impossible for foreign journalists to verify information.
The health ministry is run in coordination with the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority, and its numbers are produced in connection with hospitals in Gaza.
The ministry’s numbers are seen as credible by humanitarian organizations and are widely cited, including by the U.S. State Department, however they were recently questioned by president Joe Biden.
Over the past week, Israel has sent troops into Gaza for raids on what they describe as Hamas military infrastructure. The ground troops were accompanied by airstrikes and artillery shelling, officials said, and several of the raids have included tanks.
On Thursday, Israel announced it had killed Shadi Barud, a top Hamas intelligence official who Israel described as one of the two architects behind the Oct. 7 assault, alongside Yahya Sinwar, the Palestinian leader of Hamas in Gaza.
Due to lack of access, journalists were unable to verify whether Barud’s name and ID number were on the published list.
Overall, Israel has increased the intensity of its attacks on Gaza, some days conducting hundreds of airstrikes on the 25-mile-long territory.
The increased pace of strikes has terrified Palestinians living in Gaza.
“Last night was just horrible. Every second and every minute there was continuous bombing,” said Shaimaa Ahed on Thursday. The 20-year-old engineering student has been documenting her experience during the conflict for the Institute for Middle East Understanding, a U.S.-based non-profit that seeks to give voice to Palestinians.
The home where Ahed is staying is so full of dirt and gunpowder, she said, that everyone inside takes turns wearing a mask with a wet cloth held over it, hoping to avoid breathing in unhealthy air.