The White House on Tuesday continued to refuse to validate the Gaza Health Ministry’s death toll, even as it reported 10,000 people in Gaza have died from Israeli strikes a month into the war with Israel.
The White House has cast doubt on the Hamas-run Health Ministry’s death toll since Israeli forces retaliated to terrorist attacks launched by Hamas on Oct. 7. National security spokesperson John Kirby on Tuesday said the White House still doesn’t believe those numbers, following the Health Ministry saying the death toll surpassed 10,000 a day prior.
“We don’t have an exact figure,” he said when asked how many Palestinian civilians have died in Gaza. “We don’t have the capacity and the capability to provide you with that. We still don’t believe that taking the Ministry of Health’s numbers at face value is wise, but we can’t provide you with an alternative number.”
Kirby said the U.S. acknowledges the death toll in Gaza is in the “many, many thousands” while stressing the White House isn’t “walking away” from the idea innocent people in Gaza have been killed, injured, and displaced.
“All of that tragedy weighs heavily on the president and all of us here,” he said.
When asked how the U.S. is confident laws of war aren’t being broken in Gaza if they aren’t analyzing the impact on the ground, Kirby noted these are Israel’s military operations.
“Now, we’re in constant communication with them, so the sense we get from how they’re doing is from our communication with them,” he said.
And, he added humanitarian aid organizations working to provide food, water, and medicine, among other needs, on the ground are also helping the U.S. assess what is happening.
“We have ways of collecting information, we can talk to humanitarian aid organizations that are on the ground, certainly we’re talking to our Israeli counterparts,” Kirby said. “It’s not like we don’t have an idea but we don’t have a number that I would feel comfortable giving you from this podium with exactly to, but of course we have an idea of what’s going on because now that more humanitarian aid is going in, we have the ability to talk to those aid organizations to get a sense of what they’re seeing on the ground.”
President Biden last month said he had “no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth” when asked about the official death toll out of Gaza, prompting outrage from the community.
The Health Ministry’s indication at the time said more than 6,000 Palestinians had died.