News and Analysis

Hamas-Run Gaza Health Ministry Cited By Legacy Media Has History Of Lying About Civilian Casualties
GAZA, GAZA STRIP, PALESTINE - 2018/07/26: (EDITORS NOTE: Image depicts death.) Mourners carry the coffins of Palestinian Hamas militants who were killed in Israeli tank fire, during their funeral at a mosque in Gaza City. The military wing of Gaza's rulers Hamas have vowed revenge after Israeli strikes late July 25 killed three members of the group in the latest flare-up of violence. Israel said the artillery fire late Wednesday was in retaliation for shots fired at troops along the border which injured one soldier.
Mahmoud Issa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Major American news outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Associated Press routinely cite the Gaza Health Ministry’s numbers for civilians purportedly killed in Israeli airstrikes, but the Hamas-run agency has a history of lying about these very numbers. 

After Hamas launched a brutal terrorist attack on Israel on October 7, the Israeli government responded quickly and forcefully, bombing Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip and preparing a ground operation that is expected to begin any day. Quickly after Israel responded to Hamas’ attack with airstrikes on military targets, legacy media outlets began reporting numbers of Palestinian civilian casualties fed to them by the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. 

At the top of The New York Times’ live updates on the war, the legacy outlet writes, “Some two million people remain trapped in Gaza, desperate for water and other critical supplies and fearful of Israeli airstrikes that Palestinian officials say have already killed more than 2,800 people and wounded more than 10,000 others.” Those numbers come directly from the Palestinian Health Ministry, but the Times makes no mention of the agency’s previous lies about its death tolls. 

The Times previously noted that the health ministry used deceptive tactics less than a decade ago. In an article published by the Times on August 5, 2014 — in the midst of an Israeli operation in Gaza to take out terrorists — the news outlet wrote that the “Palestinian Ministry of Health does not categorize victims as civilian or combatant,” meaning the Gaza-based reporting of civilian casualties was significantly higher than what Israel and the U.N. reported. 

During the 2014 conflict, an opinion piece in U.S. News & World Report highlighted Hamas’ lies about civilian casualties, stating clearly that the numbers coming from the Palestinian Health Ministry cannot be trusted. 

“Hamas lies systematically, instructing civilians to misinform the foreign press. It lies habitually, with a formidable record of mendacity from previous conflicts. And it lies guiltlessly, convinced that the objectives of ‘resistance’ supersede quaint notions of truth-telling,” Oren Kessler wrote on August 12, 2014. The report even went on to blast “Western media” for going along with Hamas’ casualty count. 

“Nonetheless, since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge over a month ago, Western media have relied on Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry – as here, here and here – for casualty tallies,” the report added. “As one reporter told the Washington Post, when it comes to body counts, the Hamas Health Minister Ashraf Al-Qidra is ‘the only game in town.’” 

The fog of war combined with the Gaza Health Ministry’s deceptive reporting makes gathering accurate information on Palestinian civilian casualties nearly impossible. This was proven yet again when an explosion near a Gaza hospital on Tuesday was blamed on an Israeli airstrike by Palestinian authorities, whose word was taken as truth by mainstream newsrooms. The Hamas-backed health ministry said the blast at the hospital killed at least 500 people, and that claim was plastered on the websites and in the newspapers of American legacy media outlets — again, with no explanation of the unreliable source reporting the deaths. 


The New York Times changed its headline multiple times after the explosion near the Gaza hospital — initially running with the Palestinian officials’ version of the event before updating the headline as more information came out that indicated the blast came from a failed Hamas rocket. The Times provided no editor’s note explaining the revised headline. 

After the blast at the hospital, The Washington Post reported, “Before the al-Alhi Hospital deaths, Israeli strikes on Gaza killed at least 2,778 people and wounded 9,700, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, and nearly two-thirds of those killed were children. Another 1,200 people across Gaza are believed to be buried under the rubble, alive or dead, health authorities said.” The death count is reported as fact with no disclaimer about the unreliability of the source it comes from. 

Similarly, the Associated Press reported, “A massive blast rocked a Gaza City hospital packed with wounded and other Palestinians seeking shelter Tuesday, killing hundreds of people, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said. Hamas blamed an Israeli airstrike, while the Israeli military blamed a rocket misfired by other Palestinian militants. At least 500 people were killed, the ministry said.”

American news outlets CBS, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, and The Wall Street Journal have all followed suit by reporting Hamas’ propaganda as fact, and the health ministry’s lies were also touted by sitting members of Congress, Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Both of the congresswomen have doubled down on accepting the Palestinian authorities’ lies and condemning President Biden for standing with Israel.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Hamas-Run Gaza Health Ministry Cited By Legacy Media Has History Of Lying About Civilian Casualties