Did Assistant to the Secretary of Defense John Kirby say that the "true number of civilians deaths in Gaza is zero"? No, that's not true: That is a misquote that drastically changes the meaning of what Kirby said. No such quote is found in the transcript of the briefing shown in the Tweet that makes the claim. What Kirby did say about Gaza is that the U.S. does not excuse the loss of a single innocent life, and that "the right number of civilian casualties is zero."
⚡ 🇺🇸 White House National Security Council spokesperson, John Kirby: 'The case brought by South Africa against Israel is meaningless because there is no intentional genocide, the true number of civilian deaths in Gaza is ZERO!'
This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:
Attached to the post is a 21-second video of Kirby, speaking at a White House press briefing that was not dated by the author of this post. It shows the post's author clearly mis-stated Kirby's declarations.
In the video, Kirby states, "I want to be very clear, and I know I've said this a million times and y'all probably sick of me following up on this, but that doesn't mean that we excuse any single innocent life lost. The right number of civilian casualties is zero, but there is no indication that we've seen that validates a claim of genocidal intent or action by the Israeli Defense Forces."
Lead Stories found the transcript of this press briefing. Kirby spoke to White House reporters in the briefing room on January 26, 2024. We know this is the same day as the X video because the line, "I want to be very clear -- and I know I've said this a million times ..." can be found in the transcript. The transcript did not report that Kirby told reporters, "... the true number of civilian deaths in Gaza is zero." It recorded him saying:
The right number of civilian casualties is zero.
Below is evidence of the correct line. Highlighting done by Lead Stories:
(Source: Whitehouse.gov screenshot taken on Wed Feb 7 15:52:37 2024 UTC)
We found no evidence in the transcript of the line "... the true number of civilian deaths in Gaza is zero." Below is a screenshot of a search for this line in the X claim. Circling done by Lead Stories:
(Source: Whitehouse.gov screenshot taken on Wed Feb 7 16:01:02 2024 UTC)
Other Lead Stories articles on the Hamas-Israel 2023 conflict are here.