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The White House on Thursday said that the death toll in Gaza cannot be taken “at face value”, but did not dispute that thousands of Palestinians, among them civilians and children, have been killed in the ongoing Israel-Gaza war.
White House National Security spokesman John Kirby said that information coming from the health ministry in Gaza cannot be trusted, as it is run by Hamas.
“We all know that Gaza's administrative health is just a front for Hamas, it is run by Hamas, a terrorist organisation,” Mr Kirby told reporters.
“We can't take anything coming out of Hamas including the so-called Ministry of Health at face value.”
Pressed by a journalist on whether he would dispute that thousands of people have been killed since Israel's siege of Gaza began, Mr Kirby answered: “We absolutely know that the death toll continues to rise in Gaza, of course we know that.
“We would not dispute that.”
Mr Kirby's comments come a day after President Joe Biden shed doubt on the number of civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip.
“I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed,” Mr Biden said. “I'm sure innocents have been killed and it's a price of waging war.
“But I have no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using.”
On October 7, Hamas gunmen launched an attack on southern Israel, killing 1,400 people. Israel responded by launching daily aerial attacks on Gaza, killing more than 7,000 people, according to the health ministry.
In response to Mr Biden's comments, Gaza's health ministry on Thursday published a 212-page report with a list of the names, identification numbers, genders and ages of 6,747 people it said have been killed since October 7.
An additional 281 people, including 248 children, were listed as “unidentified”, bringing the total to 7,028.
The report said the death toll is likely to be much higher as it does not include those missing or not brought to hospital.