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Visualizing death, hunger and displacement in Gaza on a personal scale

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About this story

Editing by Sam Granados and Reem Akkad.

This story shows 472 people, the median estimated size of an American’s social network based on research by Tyler McCormick, Matthew Salganik and Tian Zheng. Their work uses a statistical model that estimates how many people someone knows by name, based on how many people they know with a specific set of names.

The effects of the war are not spread evenly, but on average, this is what would happen to 472 people in Gaza. Each person in this story represents about 4,700 Gazans.

The count of deaths in both Gaza and Israel include civilians and combatants. As of March 22, the Gaza Ministry of Health reports that at least 31,988 people have been killed in Gaza. According to the Israeli government, about 1,200 Israelis were killed during the Oct. 7 attacks.

The population of Gaza in 2023 was 2,226,544, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. The population in Israel in 2023 was 9,727,000, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

The number of people facing each impact of the war is based on the share of Gazans who have died, faced hunger or displacement, fled to Rafah, or left Gaza. For example, at least 1.4 percent of the population of Gaza have been killed in the war as of March 22. Seven people is 1.4 percent of a group of 472, so we estimate that seven people in a typical American’s social network would die if they lived in Gaza.

Hunger estimates are based on reports from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification. As of March 15, no one in Gaza is food secure. 96,000 people are in phase 2 of food insecurity (“stressed”), 578,000 people are in phase 3 (“crisis”), 876,000 people are in phase 4 (“emergency”) and 677,000 people are in phase 5 (“catastrophe”/“famine”). The IPC scales for food insecurity are defined in detail here.

Estimates of goods entering Gaza are based on reports from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. As of March 21, 16,781 truckloads of goods had entered Gaza since Oct. 7, compared to the 59,286 trucks that might be expected based on prewar averages.

Estimates of displacement and people in Rafah come from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East. As of March 20, the UNRWA reports that at least 1.7 million people are displaced within Gaza. As of March 21, 1.2 million people were in Rafah; about 257,000 people lived there before the war, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

The number of Gazans whose homes are uninhabitable comes from a February 2024 World Bank report, which estimates that 1.2 million people in Gaza are facing homelessness due to damaged and destroyed residential buildings.

The share of Gazans who have exited the Gaza Strip is based on a Washington Post analysis of daily Telegram posts about travel in and out of Gaza by the Rafah Crossing Authority. The number of people who have been referred abroad for medical treatment and who are on the waiting list for medical referrals comes from OCHA. As of March 21, 2,613 people in Gaza were referred abroad for medical treatment, and more than 8,000 were on the waiting list.

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