The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza has published the names of the 7,028 Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli airstrikes since Israel declared war on Hamas on Oct. 7.
The move comes after US president Joe Biden questioned the Palestinian death toll at a press conference on Wednesday Oct. 25.
“I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s a price of waging a war,” Biden said. “But I have no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using.”
US Security Council spokesperson John Kirby also said the following day the death toll could not be taken “at face value” because the “so-called Gaza Ministry of Health is just a front for Hamas,” which controls Gaza.
In response, Gaza’s health ministry released a 212-page report on Thursday Oct. 26, listing out the names, sexes, ages and official identification numbers of the 6,747 Palestinians, who have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7.
The document noted that the list does not include an additional 281 people who had been killed because they were unable to be identified.
Among the total of 7,028 people, 2,665 were children.
The first 88 names on the list belonged to the same extended family – the Al Astals in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.
The ministry also said that the actual death toll may be higher as it does not account for those who are still missing, trapped under rubble, people who were buried without being admitted to a hospital or whose deaths were not recorded by hospitals.
Following Biden’s comments, the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations said that figures provided by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza have consistently proven to be credible in the past.
In previous rounds of fighting between Israel and Gaza, the UN, international rights groups, news organizations and branches of the US government have all cited figures from the Health Ministry, according to Al Jazeera.
The ministry’s counts from previous wars have “held up to UN scrutiny, independent investigations and even Israel’s tallies,” according to AP.
In fact, an investigation by HuffPost found that the Biden administration has relied on and cited the ministry’s numbers both internally and publicly.
“After every war, a list is issued with names, gender, age, and ID number—and that happens for a reason, because you need to issue official death certificates,” Nour Odeh, a Ramallah-based political analyst and former journalist told TIME. “This is not done by political figures; this compilation is done by health professionals… There is a very concerted effort to do that in Palestine and, unfortunately, there’s a lot of practice.”
Skepticism of the death toll has spiked after the Gaza health ministry revised the death toll from a hospital bombing from 500 down to 471, according to TIME.
Gaza officials said that the explosion had been due to an Israeli airstrike, while Israel said it was due to a faulty rocket by Islamic Jihad, another militant group in Gaza – a claim that the White House supported.
An investigation from the New York Times later found that Israeli and American officials had cited false evidence in making the claim against the Islamic Jihad.
Israel has been relentlessly bombing Gaza, which is home to 2.2 million Palestinians, since the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel and killed 1,400 Israelis.
Shortly after Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7, Israel placed a complete siege on Gaza, blocking food, water, electricity and fuel.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced, and entire neighborhoods have been wiped out from Israel’s bombing campaign.
The director of the Palestinian Red Crescent told the New York Times that so many Gazans have died that people are burying the dead in mass graves.
“The destruction is clear for everyone to see — death is everywhere,” he said. “You just need to know a few people in Gaza to understand that every family has lost tens of people.”