American Jewish Committee (AJC) is deeply concerned by The Lancet's publication of a letter, "Counting the Dead in Gaza: difficult but essential," which makes the unsubstantiated and outrageous claim, “in the coming months and years…it is not implausible to estimate that up to 186,000 or even more deaths could be attributable to the current conflict in Gaza.”

This letter and its claims – published by a peer-reviewed medical journal – have led to widespread misleading headlines from outlets including the Washington Post, Al Jazeera, The National, and The New Arab, which also falsely imply that the Lancet endorsed the content of the letter. 

“The Lancet must make it unequivocally clear that the letter does not represent the views of the journal, was not peer-reviewed, and is purely speculative,” said AJC CEO Ted Deutch. “Anything less will seriously damage the journal’s reputation as an authoritative source and will have serious negative repercussions for Jews around the world and the State of Israel.” 

Dr. Peter A. Singer, former Special Adviser to the Director-General of the World Health Organization, criticized the letter's methodology, stating, "There is no new data here. Its methods: take one unreliable number and multiply by another unreliable number to get a bigger unreliable number." Even one of the authors of the letter, Martin McKee, admitted that “the piece has been greatly misquoted and misinterpreted.”

Beyond the issue of the invented figures, another of the letter’s authors, Rasha Khatib, has a history of defending Palestinian terrorism, which in itself raises other serious questions about the letter’s objectivity and credibility.

The Lancet must also take the necessary steps to directly address the misleading and false claims raised in the letter. Just as The Lancet has retracted its own studies when they are found to be based on flawed data, it should remove this letter from its website and, moving forward, exercise greater caution in selecting the claims it amplifies.


AJC is the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people. With headquarters in New York, 25 regional offices across the United States, 15 overseas posts, as well as partnerships with 38 Jewish community organizations worldwide, AJC’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. For more, please visit



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