The Israeli government has dropped the death toll from Hamas’s surprise attack that sparked the war in the region to 1,200 — down 200 from the 1,400 originally estimated.
The spokesperson for Israel’s foreign ministry, Lior Haiat, told Reuters and Agence France-Presse in a written statement that “around 1,200 is the official number of victims of the October 7 massacre.”
According to Haiat, the figure was updated Thursday, but he did not provide a justification for the death toll change.
The death count, which includes foreigners, “is not a final number. It [is] an updated estimate,” he told Reuters. “It might change when [they] identify all the bodies.”
In response to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas — a Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip and has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. — Israel has been carrying out airstrikes and shelling Gaza, an operation that has killed thousands of Palestinians living in the area and displaced more than a million people.
The strikes, which have created what’s been called a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, have also prompted calls from activists and progressive lawmakers for an immediate cease-fire. President Biden and his administration have shot down those calls, arguing it would help out Hamas.
Instead of a cease-fire, the administration has argued for temporary humanitarian pauses to allow aid into Gaza for civilians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also said a cease-fire would not happen until the more than 200 hostages were released. Israel has, however, complied and allowed limited pauses for aid in some parts of Gaza.