• Graph with Hamas daily figures shows impossible straight line.
  • There is lack of correlation between women and children casualties.
  • Hamas’s own figures show Israel is killing hardly any non-combatant men.

Relying on a terrorist group to provide figures on a conflict should cause some degree of suspicion over their accuracy. This hasn’t stopped media organisations and world leaders from repeating Hamas-generated figures every day since 7 October. A report released this week, however, shows that the official civilian death toll reported by Hamas is “statistically impossible”.

The data provided by the United Nations is based on figures provided by the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. The problem with statistically inaccurate figures is that they are used widely as a way to demonise Israel – wrongly accusing the Jewish state of genocide. They are also used to pressure for a ceasefire without any condition for Hamas surrender and release of Israeli hostages.

In an article published by Tablet Magazine on Thursday, statistician Abraham Wyner argues that the official number of Palestinian casualties reported daily by the Gaza Health Ministry from 26 October to 11 November 2023 is evidently “not real”, which he claims is obvious “to anyone who understands how naturally occurring numbers work.”

Looking at the total number of deaths reported each day, Wyner writes: “The graph of total deaths by date is increasing with almost metronomical linearity,” with the increase showing “strikingly little variation” from day to day.

The graph reveals an extremely regular increase in casualties over the period. Data aggregated by the author and provided by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), based on Gaza MoH figures. (ABRAHAM WYNER)

“The daily reported casualty count over this period averages 270 plus or minus about 15 per cent,” Wyner writes. “There should be days with twice the average or more and others with half or less. Perhaps what is happening is the Gaza ministry is releasing fake daily numbers that vary too little because they do not have a clear understanding of the behaviour of naturally occurring numbers.”

The report also highlights irregularities in the correlation between the number of children reported to have been killed and the number of women. On the days with many women casualties there should be large numbers of children casualties, and on the days when just a few women are reported to have been killed, just a few children should be reported, but this is not the case.

Wyner also points to a strong negative correlation between the number of female and male casualties, which “makes no sense at all.”

The low level of male casualties reported is inconsistent with a report last month that Hamas lost 6,000 of its fighters, which represents more than 20 per cent of the total number of casualties reported.

If 70 per cent of casualties are women and children as Hamas has reported, then “Israel is somehow not killing noncombatant men, or else Hamas is claiming that almost all the men in Gaza are Hamas fighters.”

Wyner says the evidence presented is “highly suggestive that a process unconnected or loosely connected to reality was used to report the numbers. Most likely, the Hamas ministry settled on a daily total arbitrarily.”

The numbers matter. Anti-Israel propaganda thrives on these fake statistics and many world leaders have wrongfully embraced them. For example, on 25 October when the number stood at about 6,500 casualties, President Biden said, “I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed.” More recently the president quoted 30,000, telling MSNBC, “You cannot have another 30,000 dead as a consequence [of pursuing Hamas].”

Wyner’s analysis suggests this 30,000 figure is fake, but even if it is true, the ration of noncombatant casualties to combatants is remarkably low at 1.4 to 1 and perhaps even as low as 1 to 1.

“By historical standards of urban warfare, where combatants and non-combatants are embedded above and below into civilian population centers, this is a remarkable and successful effort to prevent unnecessary loss of life while fighting an implacable enemy that protects itself with civilians,” he writes.

You can read the report in full here