Fri. May 24th, 2024

At least 310 bodies were found in mass graves across Gaza. A ‘horrified’ UN seeks answers

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May17,2024
Key Points
  • Five mass graves have been discovered at Nasser Hospital and al-Shifa Hospital, according to reports out of Gaza.
  • Among the reported victims were elderly and wounded people, while some were stripped naked with their hands tied.
  • The UN called the mass grave reports “horrific” and called for an independent investigation into possible war crimes.
The bodies of hundreds of Palestinians, some of them stripped naked with their hands tied, have reportedly been recovered from mass graves at hospitals raided by Israeli forces in Gaza.
In the past week, authorities have recovered at least 310 bodies from one of three mass graves discovered at Nasser Hospital, southern Gaza’s main health facility.
Reporters from the Reuters news agency on Monday saw emergency workers digging corpses out of the ground in the ruins of the hospital.
The other two graves have not yet been excavated.
Meanwhile, further north, Palestinian officials reported finding 30 bodies across two mass graves at in Gaza City. Before 7 October, al-Shifa served as Gaza’s main tertiary facility, and was the focus of an Israeli military operation to root out Hamas militants allegedly operating at the site.
Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said there could be “many more” victims.

“Among the deceased were allegedly older people, women and wounded, while others were found tied with their hands … tied and stripped of their clothes,” Shamdasani said of those discovered at the mass graves. Some were reportedly buried deep under piles of waste, she added.

A badly damaged building with dirt in the foreground

Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital was destroyed during a two-week raid by Israeli troops that ended at the start of April. Source: Anadolu / via Getty Images

UN human rights chief Volker Türk said he was “horrified” by reports that hospitals had been destroyed and mass graves discovered.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Shamdasani said the OHCHR calls for “independent, effective, transparent investigation into the deaths”.
“Given the prevailing climate of impunity this should include international investigators,” she said. “Hospitals are entitled to very special protection under international humanitarian law. And let’s be clear: the intentional killing of civilians, detainees, and others who are hors de combat is a war crime.”

Hors de combat refers to soldiers who can’t perform their duties due to having surrendered or being incapacitated by injury or illness.

Shamdasani noted a history of impunity for gross violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law in Gaza, many of which she said “have gone undetected and unreported on”, and stressed the need to “raise the alarm” over these recent discoveries.
Palestinian sources say Israeli troops used bulldozers to bury the corpses at Nasser, in what they suggested was an attempt to cover up crimes.
The Israeli military rejected these claims as “baseless and unfounded”, saying its troops dug up some bodies to make sure no hostages were among them and reburied them following examinations.

“The examination was conducted in a careful manner and exclusively in places where intelligence indicated the possible presence of hostages. The examination was carried out respectfully while maintaining the dignity of the deceased,” the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said in a statement.

Rafah remembers thousands of Palestinian children killed by Israel in Gaza

Palestinian children at a memorial in the courtyard of Kuwait Hospital, Rafah, Gaza, on Tuesday featuring the names of children killed in the Hamas-Israel conflict. Source: Anadolu / Doaa Albaz/via Getty Images

Israel’s assault on Gaza followed the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel, in which 1,200 people were killed and about 240 people taken hostage, according to Israeli authorities.

More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including 14,685 children and 9,670 women, according to the occupied territory’s health authorities. Another 77,084 have been injured, and over 7,000 others are assumed to be under the rubble.
“Every 10 minutes a child is killed or wounded,” Türk said. “They are protected under the laws of war, and yet they are ones who are disproportionately paying the ultimate price in this war.”
Türk further condemned Israel’s recent strikes against Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city on the border with Egypt, where an estimated 1.2 million Gazans “have been forcibly cornered”. These strikes, which included an attack on an apartment building and a refugee camp, mostly killed women — in at least one case a pregnant woman — and children.
“The latest images of a premature child taken from the womb of her dying mother, of the adjacent two houses where 15 children and five women were killed, this is beyond warfare,” Türk said.
The baby girl to whom he referred was delivered from the womb of a Palestinian woman killed in an Israeli attack. Weighing 1.4kg and delivered in an emergency C-section, the child was stable and improving gradually, said Mohammed Salama, a doctor caring for her. Her mother, Sabreen Al-Sakani, had been 30 weeks pregnant.
The baby’s father and sister were also killed in the strikes.

“Here is the biggest tragedy,” Salama said. “Even if this child survives, she was born an orphan.”

Israel intensified its strikes across Gaza on Tuesday in what residents say is some of the heaviest shelling in weeks. The bombardment came after incoming rocket alerts sounded in two Israeli border towns, with the IDF claiming the attacks came from northern Gaza.
Violence has also surged in the occupied West Bank, with Palestinian health authorities saying 14 Palestinians were killed inside the territory on Saturday in one of the heaviest death tolls in months. Some of the victims were reportedly killed in extrajudicial executions, Shamdasani said.
The Hamas media office has accused Israel of executions but has not shared visual or other evidence. Israel denies carrying out executions.
Israel’s military has previously said several militants were killed or arrested in the West Bank raid and at least four soldiers wounded.

With additional reporting by Reuters.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “At least 310 bodies were found in mass graves across Gaza. A ‘horrified’ UN seeks answers”
  1. As an avid follower of international news, it is truly heartbreaking to hear about the horrific discovery of mass graves in Gaza. The UN’s call for an independent investigation is crucial to uncover any possible war crimes committed. My thoughts are with the victims and their families during this tragic time.

  2. Absolutely appalling and heartbreaking news. The UN must indeed conduct a thorough investigation to uncover the truth behind this devastating atrocity. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time.

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