US Aid Reaches Gaza, ICJ Hears Israel's Defense, and UN Revises Gaza Casualty Figures

US Aid Reaches Gaza, ICJ Hears Israel's Defense, and UN Revises Gaza Casualty Figures

  • US military confirmed first aid shipment via a temporary pier off Gaza 
  • ICJ is hearing Israel's response to South Africa's allegations 
  • UN revised proportion of women and children killed in Gaza, sparking claims that fewer Palestinians have died since Israel's offensive

Gaza/Tel-Aviv - The US military has confirmed that the first aid shipment via a temporary pier off Gaza has reached shore.

According to a post on X by US Central Command, aid trucks began arriving ashore at around 0900 local time (0700 BST).

"This is an ongoing, multinational effort to deliver additional aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza via a maritime corridor that is entirely humanitarian in nature," the post stated, adding that no US troops went ashore.

Weeks ago, the US started constructing the floating base to facilitate aid delivery to Gaza as Israel continues its military campaign against Hamas.

On Wednesday, it was reported that hundreds of tonnes of aid had arrived in Cyprus, where it undergoes screening before being loaded onto ships for delivery to the pier.

Vice Adm Brad Cooper, deputy commander of US Central Command, mentioned that commercial ships would pick up pallets from Cyprus and deliver them to a floating platform anchored several kilometers off Gaza's coast.

Smaller US military vessels, capable of carrying between five and 15 lorries of aid, will then transport it to a floating pier, several hundred meters long, fixed to the beach in Gaza.

Lorries will travel along the pier to drop off the aid at a marshalling yard on the beach.

Authorities indicated that the UN, primarily the World Food Programme, will handle the onward distribution of the aid.

Israel's Response at the ICJ
The UN's top court is hearing Israel's response to South Africa's allegations that its assault on Rafah is an escalation of a campaign of genocide in Gaza.

Israel maintains that the offensive is crucial for defeating Hamas.

It argues that false and biased claims based on Hamas sources have been presented to the court in The Hague.

This is the second day of hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), with South Africa's lawyers having outlined their case on Thursday.

On Thursday, South Africa argued that Israel must urgently halt its military campaign across Gaza, particularly in Rafah, where over one million displaced Palestinians have sought refuge.

UN Revises Gaza Casualty Figures

The United Nations has revised the proportion of women and children killed in Gaza, leading to claims that fewer Palestinians have died since Israel's offensive began following the Hamas attack on October 7.

On May 6, the UN reported that 69% of the fatalities were women and children. Two days later, this figure was adjusted to 52%.

While the overall death toll in Gaza remains over 35,000, the revision stems from incomplete information, according to the UN. The UN now relies on figures from Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry instead of the Hamas-run Government Media Office (GMO).

The Israeli foreign minister highlighted the UN's revised figures, describing the lower reported deaths of women and children as "the miraculous resurrection of the dead in Gaza" and criticized the UN for using "fake data from a terrorist organization."

### Recording Deaths

The figures have been released in different ways by the GMO and the health ministry. Initially, the health ministry reported deaths registered in hospitals, but from November, the GMO included deaths from "reliable media reports." Recently, the health ministry has incorporated these media reports and added deaths reported by family members via an online form.

The health ministry now reports:

- Deaths recorded in hospitals
- Deaths reported by family members
- Deaths from "reliable media reports"

Some deaths with missing information (like ID number or birthdate) are included in the overall death count but not broken down demographically.

The number of women and children killed is a contentious issue, often seen as an indicator of civilian casualties. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that around 30,000 people had been killed in Gaza, with 14,000 being "terrorists" and 16,000 civilians, though he provided no evidence for these figures.

Prof. Erica Charters, an expert in war studies, noted that keeping precise casualty records during wartime is challenging, leading to varying reported numbers.

### Why the UN Changed Approach

The GMO consistently reported a higher proportion of women and children fatalities than the health ministry. On May 6, the UN cited the GMO, reporting 34,735 deaths, including 9,500 women and 14,500 children. Two days later, the UN switched to health ministry data, showing 34,844 deaths, but only 4,959 women and 7,797 children, due to the exclusion of individuals with incomplete information.

The GMO asserts that around 70% of the casualties are women and children. However, the UN's latest report, based on health ministry data, indicates that out of 24,686 fully identified fatalities, 52% were women and children, 40% were men, and 8% were "elderly," without specifying gender or defining "elderly."

Prof. Michael Spagat, an expert on conflict death tolls, finds it implausible that almost all the 10,000 unidentified deaths could be women and children. He described the death toll in Gaza as "staggeringly high," noting that verified hospital deaths represent about 1% of Gaza's pre-war population of 2.4 million.

The UN switched to health ministry data once it became more comprehensive and was backed by a list of names. A UN spokesman stated that both data sources were attributed clearly, with a note on the UN's inability to independently verify the data. The UN maintains a long-standing cooperation with the Gaza health ministry, considering its reporting credible and well-developed.

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