Mark Regev, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, informed MSNBC host Joy Reid that the reported death toll in Gaza cannot be taken at face value.
His response came after Reid pressed him to explain the 18,000 deaths the Gaza Health Ministry has reported since Israel began its response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack, which killed more than 1,200 Israelis.
“How has causing that much death and destruction, 80 percent of those dead estimated to be women and children, how does that achieve the goal of eradicating Hamas?” she wondered.
Regev began by thanking Reid for having him on, given how critical she has been of Israel’s actions. He then explained that causing harm to civilians in Gaza is not Israel’s goal, but that Israel refuses to abandon its mission of eliminating Hamas. The Israeli people, he continued, “refuse to live next to a terror enclave” and so ending Hamas’ rule of Gaza is of utmost importance.
Unsatisfied with his response, Reid asked the same question again.
This time, Regev gave her a lesson in trusting number put out by the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health.
“Joy, can I urge you please to be a little bit circumspect of those numbers. They are put out by the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza. And therefore, you have to presume that Hamas has reasons for playing with the numbers,” Regev said. “You know that they were very cruel, they have no qualms whatsoever about killing people, innocent civilians, we saw that on Oct. 7. You can presume also they have no qualms about killing the truth.”
“So, are you saying that you do not agree with the United Nations agreeing with those numbers, most human rights groups agree with those numbers. You’re casting doubt on that 18,000 number?” she fired back.
Regev acknowledged that civilians have been caught up in the fighting, as is the case in any war, but he said Israel has tried to keep those deaths as low as possible, which has been difficult by Hamas embedding themselves within civilian populations and infrastructure.
While international organizations have largely taken the same position as Reid on the figures, President Biden has said he has “no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using.”