Israel said Friday it had revised the death toll of the October 7 Hamas attack on Israeli communities and military bases in southern Israel down from around 1,400 to roughly 1,200 people.
The revised figure was provided by Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat, as Israel continues its painstaking efforts to identify all victims, five weeks after the atrocities took place.
Haiat did not offer details on the reason for the revised figures. But beyond the victims, Israel has said some 1,500 terrorists are believed to have been killed by security forces as the attack and the Israeli response unfolded, leaving authorities with thousands of corpses to process.
Authorities have continued for the past month their work to identify the victims of Hamas’s massacre in southern Israel, after thousands of terrorists broke through the border fence and slaughtered families in their homes and on the streets, as well as party-goers at a rave. Some victims were tortured, raped, burned and mutilated, with many of the acts filmed by the perpetrators. The attackers also killed hundreds of soldiers situated near the border.
The death toll is likely to continue to fluctuate for some time to come. Some of the over 240 people abducted to the Strip are thought to not be alive, though there are no official estimates. Additionally, as time has passed, there has been a steady trickle of reports on individuals who had been thought kidnapped but who have since been confirmed, through forensic and other evidence, to have died.
This week the Israel Antiquities Authority said archaeologists who joined efforts to identify victims had uncovered the remains of at least 10 people in houses burned during the grisly onslaught.
Most of the identification work has taken place at the Military Rabbinate’s main base in Ramle, where the bodies of the victims have been slowly and agonizingly processed and identified through various technological means.
The most recent death toll from the military had 318 service members killed during the attack itself (37 more have been killed since the IDF launched its ground offensive in Gaza), with police citing another 59 dead. Such figures include armed fighters who tackled the terrorists head-on, but also unarmed service members in non-combat roles who were killed inside their bases, sometimes in their beds.
Police said they have identified 845 civilian deaths.
In response to the attack, Israel declared war against Gaza Strip terror organizations and embarked upon an unprecedented air and ground campaign in the Strip that it says is meant to eliminate Hamas. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says over 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza, without differentiating between civilians and combatants. Those figures cannot be independently verified and are believed to include those erroneously killed by terror operatives amid the fighting.
Israel says it makes every effort to avoid harming civilians, but that this is unavoidable as it fights a terror organization that is entrenched within the civilian population and which conducts its operations and attacks from within hospitals, residential areas and other civilian cover.