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FACT CHECK: Lloyd Austin Claims 25,000 Palestinian Women And Children Have Been Killed As Of Feb. 29

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin claimed At a hearing on February 29, it was reported that more than 25,000 Palestinian women and children have been killed since October 7.

Verdict: Misleading

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said at least 70 percent of the 30,035 people reportedly killed were women and children, with estimates of around 21,000 instead of 25,000. The Pentagon later issued a statement saying that a total of 25,000 people had died in Austin, according to Department of Health numbers, but said it could not confirm that number.

Fact check:

According to reports, Austin appeared before the House Armed Services Committee and was asked about his hospitalization and the lack of transparency surrounding it. CNN. (Related: Mass IDF casualty claims lack evidence)

During the hearing, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., asked how many Palestinian women and children had been killed since Oct. 7, to which Austin replied 25,000.

However, this claim is misleading. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said as of February 29, 30,035 people had been killed. BBC news. The Ministry of Health points out that of these 30,035 people, at least 70 percent were women and children, meaning at least 21,000 women and children were killed.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said: BBC news This figure includes only those killed in military attacks and does not include those who died from starvation or disease.

A Hamas official said: Reuters The organization estimated the number of fighters at 6,000, but Hamas disputed this figure. BBC news. Although the Wall Street Journal report “Hamas leaders in Gaza have informed Egyptian officials and Hamas' political wing in exile that the military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, has lost at least 6,000 fighters.” According to the WSJ, Israel claims to have killed at least 12,000 Hamas fighters, but “U.S. and Egyptian intelligence officials believe the true loss is somewhere in between.”

A Pentagon spokesperson told “Check Your Fact” that Austin was talking about the total number of Palestinian deaths, not just women and children.

“During today's hearing, Secretary Austin was asked how many women and children have died in Gaza. To be clear, the Secretary's response was that Hamas has killed more than 25,000 Palestinians in total in Gaza. We are citing estimates from the Ministry of Health under its jurisdiction. We cannot independently confirm these numbers of casualties in Gaza,” the spokesperson said.

The IDF told Check Your Fact it had “no comment” on Austin's remarks. An IDF spokesperson has previously criticized statistics from the Gaza Ministry of Health, telling Check Your Fact in November 2023, “The information published by the ministry is distorted, fabricated and unverified.” he said.

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