Pentagon Acknowledges Austin Cited Hamas-Provided Statistics

By Yoni Weiss

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaking at the Pentagon in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

During his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that over 25,000 Palestinian women and children had been killed by Israel since Oct. 7. The Pentagon later admitted that this figure was sourced from the Hamas-controlled Gaza health authorities.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, clarified that Austin’s estimate relied on data from the Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza, emphasizing the inability to independently verify the accuracy of these numbers. Ryder highlighted the challenges of assessing information without on-the-ground verification and mentioned the Pentagon’s confidence that thousands of civilians have been killed, though the exact figure remains uncertain.

This incident raises questions about the use of unverified information in official statements, prompting queries about the secretary’s decision to cite figures that couldn’t be independently confirmed.

President Joe Biden initially expressed doubt about the Palestinian figures, later referencing “over 27,000 Palestinians killed” during a press conference.

White House national security communications advisor John Kirby clarified that the president was citing publicly available data about total casualties, emphasizing the need for caution in interpreting such figures.

The Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry recently claimed that 30,035 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza.

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