The Lancet stands by letter speculating 180,000 deaths in Gaza

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

The Lancet stands by letter speculating 180,000 deaths in Gaza

Medical journal tells Jewish News: 'Many of these deaths may not have yet occurred.'

Screenshot: The Lancet
Screenshot: The Lancet

The world’s leading medical journal is standing by a published letter speculating that “up to 186,000 or even more deaths could be attributable to the current conflict in Gaza”.

Published on 5 July in the correspondence section of The Lancet, the article, ‘Counting the dead in Gaza: difficult but essential‘, has been shared widely across social media platforms by MP Zarah Sultana, UN officials including Francesca Albanese and accepted as factual by figures including Ghassan Abu Sitta, a British-Palestinian surgeon who urged Palestinians to ‘fight back and die in dignity’ the day after the 7 October terror attacks and Jason Hickel, a visiting senior Fellow at the London School of Economics who describes the figures as “apocalyptic”.

Screenshot: Irish Times

The Irish Times also published the correspondence as fact on Monday afternoon, citing The Lancet as the source of the predicted number of deaths, not stating the number came from a speculative letter.

BBC Newsnight also platformed climate justice activist Mikaela Loach on its 9th July programme quoting the Lancet figures as fact.

The number refers to the figure of “four indirect deaths per one direct death” to calculate that “it is not implausible to estimate that up to 186,000” deaths could be “attributable to the current conflict in Gaza.”

The authors calculate this figure by using “the 2022 Gaza Strip population estimate of 2,375,259” to “translate to 7·9% of the total population in the Gaza Strip.”

It also makes reference to future “indirect deaths in the coming months and years from causes such as reproductive, communicable, and non-communicable diseases.”

Screenshot: Twitter/X

It was written by Rasha Khatib, listed as associated with the Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University, Palestine; Martin McKee, professor of public health at The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a former president of the British Medical Association and the European Public Health Association; and Salim Yusuf, affiliated with The Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences in Ontario, Canada.

Screenshot: Twitter/X

Author Martin McKee has taken to Twitter/X to admit that while the “piece has been greatly misquoted and misinterpreted,” the figures are “credible” and “purely illustrative.”

Screenshot: Twitter/X

In a statement sent to Jewish News, The Lancet confirmed the letter was written by “external authors”.


The Lancet added: “The authors also note that many of these indirect deaths may not have yet occurred.”

One London GP told Jewish News: “The Lancet‘s disingenuous use of projected death tolls in relation to Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists is whipping up dangerous anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred within and beyond the worldwide medical community and puts Jewish and non-Jewish doctors, healthcare staff, vulnerable patients and the public at large at risk of escalating racism and extremism. Medical journals need to stick to reporting on medical issues and not to meddling in polarising politics, which could lead to dire consequences for individuals across the globe.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: