Nearly 2,000 Children Killed in Ukraine, Over 15,000 in Gaza

by | May 16, 2024

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported this week that nearly 2,000 children have been killed in the war in Ukraine, where US Congresspersons and President Joe Biden have accused Russia of committing genocide.

UNICEF said data indicated the at least 1,993 children have been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded in early 2022.

As of May 6, by contrast, the UN reported that over 14,500 Palestinian children in Gaza have been killed by Israel as a result of its siege and bombardment of the Gaza Strip during “Operation Swords of Iron”, which Israel launched in retaliation for Hamas’s “Operation Al Aqsa Flood” on October 7, 2023.

The number of dead Gazan children has since risen to over 15,000, as will be discussed further below. (If you think I’m spreading Hamas propaganda because you’ve heard that the UN has “halved” its estimate of Palestinian civilians killed, you will want to keep reading to free yourself from that delusion.)

Together, women and children comprise nearly 70% of deaths in Gaza, reflecting the perfectly indiscriminate nature of Israel’s bombardment coupled with Israel’s use of starvation as a method of warfare.

After just the first three weeks of Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment, more than 3,257 children were killed in Gaza, which was more children killed than in all of the world’s other conflicts combined — including the war in Ukraine — for each of the years 2020, 2021, and 2022.

By early November, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, had described Gaza as “a graveyard for children“.

In December, the government of South Africa filed an application with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing Israel of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention, and on January 26, the ICJ issued a preliminary ruling that Israel has been committing a plausible genocide.

In early February, the UN published a report noting that more than 1% of the Gazan population had been killed, including one in every 85 children, “which is the highest rate by a wide margin when compared with other recent major conflicts.”

The report included the following visualization of the data comparing child deaths in world conflict zones.

child deaths gaza

As the report stated,

No other armed conflict in the twenty-first century has experienced such a devastating impact on a population in such a short timeframe. To find a 100-day period with greater bloodshed, it is necessary to go back to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

But you don’t see members of Congress or the Biden administration saying that Israel has been committing genocide in Gaza.

Why the double standard?

Simple. The US opposes Russia and supports Ukraine, so the accusation of genocide serves the policy aim, whereas the US has always maintained a policy of supporting Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, and US officials have been absolutely complicit in Israel’s genocide, so of course they aren’t going to advertise their own criminal behavior.

The ‘Revised’ Gaza Death Toll Claim

Relatedly, you may have seen headlines recently claiming that the UN has cut the Palestinian death toll in half, which we are told indicates how unreliable the data is from governing authority in Gaza, which is Hamas.

This recent claim relates to the argument raised in a debate last month that the Palestinian death toll had been greatly inflated, which claim I addressed in my post “The ‘Israel Has the Most Moral Army in the World’ Trope“.

At the time, the UN, citing data from the Gaza health authorities, was reporting over 33,000 Palestinians had been killed, and the claim made was that Hamas had admitted that 11,000 of those might not actually be dead.

That was a lie. Hamas never said that. Rather, the Gaza Ministry of Health had issued a report on casualties saying that it had “incomplete data” for 11,371 of the 33,091 reported fatalities.

So, for example, if the Ministry of Health had the dead body of a Palestinian, but they didn’t know the person’s name, that would be a corpse for which the Ministry of Health had “incomplete data”.

The argument presented in the debate was thus effectively that, when estimating the Palestinian death toll, dead bodies alone don’t count.

How’s that for genocide apologetics?

Just this past weekend, a similar Zionist propaganda claim reared its ugly head, with reports claiming the UN had revised its estimates of the numbers of dead Palestinian women and children by half.

A headline in the Jerusalem Post on May 11 asserted, “UN seemingly halves estimate of Gazan women, children killed“.

The article pointed out that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on May 6 that over 9,500 women and 14,500 children had been killed, citing data from the Gaza Ministry of Health or the Government Media Office.

But then in its May 9 update, the UN reported that 4,959 women and 7,797 children had been killed in Gaza.

The UN’s update on May 13 showed numbers of women and children killed that were unchanged from May 9, although the total death count increased from 34,904 to 35,091.

The Foundation for the Defense of Democracy (FDD) similarly reported, “UN Halves Its Estimate of Women and Children Killed in Gaza“, touting the change as evidence that the numbers that the UN had been reporting were effectively made up by Hamas and were unreliable.

At the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Elliot Abrams of Iran-Contra infamy likewise posted, “UN Halves Its Estimate of Women and Children Killed in Gaza“, remarking that “It has become increasingly clear that these numbers represent Hamas propaganda.”

The first thing you need to know is that in past Israeli operations in Gaza, the data provided by the Gaza Ministry of Health estimating the numbers of Palestinians killed always proved to be reliable, a close approximation of the subsequently verified numbers.

Second, Israel’s systematic targeting of Gaza’s health care system has made it impossible to count the true number of dead. As the UN also points out in its casualty updates, its numbers do not include the more than 10,000 Palestinians missing and presumed buried under the rubble.

For that reason, the numbers are inherently under-estimated.

As Sky News reported on April 4 (emphasis added),

During the first months of the war in Gaza, deaths were counted through a network of computers connecting morgues across the territory.

It was a system that, in the years beforehand, had won the trust of human rights groups, the UN and the World Health Organisation.

But amid repeated Israeli attacks on hospitals and chronic fuel shortages, this system has now effectively collapsed.

Of the eight major hospitals responsible for collating morgue data, just three are still providing information to the health ministry.

As a result, the morgue monitoring system is now only capturing a small fraction of deaths across the territory.

At the time, Hamas was reporting that 32,916 Palestinians had been killed whom the Health Ministry had been able to identify. The released data included the name and age of every identified fatality. Another 11,593 dead Palestinians remained to be identified.

As Sky News further reported, “As Gaza’s health system has collapsed, the share of unidentified deaths has grown — making up 81% of additions to the total number of fatalities in March, up from 69% in January.”

The article usefully includes this graph helping us to visualize the scale of the problem:

gaza death toll

Third, the apparent discrepancy in the reported death toll among women and children is not because the UN has revised its estimate downward.

As The Guardian observed,

After the Gaza health ministry’s revised totals of those killed first appeared on the website of the UN’s office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (Ocha), they were quickly seized on as proof by pro-Israel media and commentators that the UN had previously been exaggerating the toll.

Rather, the appearance of the numbers being “halved” is simply a a statistical artifact from the UN changing its method of counting.

Whereas before it was including the total number of dead women and children as reported by the Gaza Ministry of Health, because health authorities are increasingly unable to identify the dead and the proportion of unidentified bodies has grown so great, the UN is now only including the numbers of dead who have been identified.

The Guardian also noted that estimates from the Gaza Health Ministry during past Israeli operations had proven reliable, and Human Rights Watch told the newspaper that it has seen “no evidence that the numbers were being manipulated.”

CNN also corrected the record (for a change) by reporting (emphasis added),

The number was reduced because the UN says it is now relying on the number of deceased women and children whose names and other identifying details have been fully documented, rather than the total number of women and children killed.

Although OCHA is no longer showing this in its situation updates, CNN further confirmed that the most recent data from the Gaza Health Ministry show that a total of 15,103 children and 9,961 women have been killed in Gaza.

So, no, the UN did not revise its estimate of dead women and children down by half. That is just another lie emanating from Zionist propagandists trying to defend Israel’s genocide. Instead, the UN just stopped including the numbers of women and children who have been killed but whose bodies have not yet been identified.

Consequently, it is accurate to go on reporting, as I have in the title of this post, that over 15,000 children have been killed in Gaza, including 7,797 whose bodies have been identified — but not including an unspecified number of children among the roughly 10,000 additional Palestinians who are missing and presumed buried under the rubble.

In sum, it’s not that the earlier UN-reported numbers were overexaggerated but that Israel’s massacre of Palestinians is of such a genocidal scale that Gaza’s health care system cannot possibly keep up with counting and identifying the dead.

The data might not lie, but political commentators making claims about the data sure do.

To come back to the point about US government officials’ hypocrisy in accusing Russia of genocide in Ukraine while backing Israel’s genocide in Gaza with its considerably more horrific death toll, also don’t forget how New York Times editors instructed journalists to avoid the word “genocide” when reporting on Gaza, as I discussed in my article last week titled “How Israel Supported Hamas Against the PLO“.

Cross-posted from

Jeremy R. Hammond

Jeremy R. Hammond

Jeremy R. Hammond is an independent journalist and a Research Fellow at The Libertarian Institute whose work focuses on exposing deceitful mainstream propaganda that serves to manufacture consent for criminal government policies. He has written about a broad range of topics, including US foreign policy, economics and the role of the Federal Reserve, and public health policies. He is the author of several books, including Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Ron Paul vs. Paul Krugman: Austrian vs. Keynesian Economics in the Financial Crisis, and The War on Informed Consent. Find more of his articles and sign up to receive his email newsletters at

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