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Jeff Cercone
By Jeff Cercone December 19, 2023

No, all Gaza schoolchildren have not been killed in Israel-Hamas war

If Your Time is short

  • Not all of Gaza’s schoolchildren have been killed. There are about 625,000 registered students in Gaza schools. The number of children that have been killed in the war — including those who are not yet school age —  is about 7,000, according to the Gaza-based Health Ministry that’s controlled by Hamas.

  • The total death toll in Gaza, including adults and children, was about 19,000 as of Dec. 18, the Health Ministry said.

The Israel Hamas war has been particularly deadly for Gaza’s children, but one social media post overstated the toll in a claim about children’s deaths. 

"Breaking News: The Ministry of Education in Gaza has officially announced the end of the 2023/2024 academic year as all students have been killed," said the Dec. 7 Instagram post sharing a screenshot of an X post.

The Instagram post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

We found similar social media posts alleging that all Gaza schools had closed because all students had been killed by Israel.

(Instagram screenshot)

We could find no formal announcement that Gaza’s Ministry of Education had ended the school year early because of the war, but government social media posts show classroom activities were suspended for the safety of the children, teachers and staff. Some lessons may be taught remotely, based on a Dec. 14 press release on Palestinian Teacher’s Day, which said, according to a Google translation, "The Ministry is proud of all the teachers who continue to give and demonstrate their affiliation, by continuous giving in person or remotely."

A Nov. 6 essay by a Gaza schoolteacher published in Al Jazeera said the year had been suspended, as did a report the same day in the Middle East Monitor, a publication that calls itself a supporter of the Palestinian cause. 

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None of Gaza’s 625,000 students has had access to education since Oct. 7, said Kurtis Albert Cooper, a UNICEF spokesperson.

About 69% of Gaza’s schools had been damaged or destroyed, Cooper said.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, also known as OCHA, also said in a report on the war’s impact that no Gaza students have access to education. But the number of reported deaths in Gaza doesn’t back the claim that all 625,000 of Gaza’s school children have died. 

The death toll for both adults and children in Gaza is more than 19,000 from Oct. 7 through Dec. 15, according to the Gaza-based Health Ministry, which is part of the Hamas-controlled government and the only official source for casualties in the territory. The Guardian reported that 7,700 children have been killed, though not all are school age.

Cooper, the UNICEF spokesperson, said more than 3,800 students and 200 teachers and staff members have been killed, citing the Palestinian Ministry of Education. 

The X post claiming all Gaza’s students have died was shared Oct. 28 by a user who later the same day clarified in a reply that all the students in some classes had been killed, not all of the students in Gaza. That clarification was not noted when the X post was reshared in December on Instagram.

We rate the claim that Gaza’s education ministry "officially announced the end of the 2023/2024 academic year as all students have been killed" False.

Our Sources

Instagram post, Dec. 7, 2023

X post, Oct. 28, 2023

X post, Oct. 28, 2023

Kurtis Albert Cooper, UNICEF spokesperson, email interview, Dec. 19, 2023

Al Jazeera, In this relentless war, oh how I miss my students, Nov. 12, 2023

Middle East Monitor, Amidst the bombing, school year suspended in Gaza, Nov. 6, 2023

Ministry of Education, Facebook post, Oct. 7, 2023

Ministry of Higher Education, Palestine, Facebook post, Oct. 7, 2023 

State of Palestine Ministry of Education, Statement on Palestinian Teacher’s Day, Dec. 14, 2023

CNN, Gaza health ministry says 70% of Palestinians killed in the territory during the war are women and children, Dec. 17, 2023

ABC News, What we know about the conflict, updated Dec. 18, 2023

Reuters, Gaza war inflicts catastrophic damage on infrastructure and economy, Nov. 17, 2023

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Hostilities in the Gaza Strip and Israel - reported impact, Nov. 15, 2023

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,  Hostilities in the Gaza Strip and Israel | Flash Update #70, Dec. 15, 2023

United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA situation report #2 on the situation in the Gaza Strip, Oct. 8, 2023

The Guardian, War’s toll on education in Gaza casts shadow over children’s future, Dec. 18, 2023

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No, all Gaza schoolchildren have not been killed in Israel-Hamas war

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