Saturday, May 25, 2024

UN urges investigation into mass graves found at Gaza hospitals

United Nations leaders have demanded a “clear, transparent and credible” investigation after mass graves containing the bodies of hundreds of men and women were discovered on the grounds of two major hospitals in the Gaza Strip that were previously under assault by the Israeli military.

The mass graves contained some people stripped naked with their hands tied, raising concerns over potential war crimes, the U.N. said, describing the bodies as “buried deep in the ground and covered with waste.”

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Tuesday that investigators must have complete access to the sites and ensured safety from the Israeli military.

Mass grave sites were discovered at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, containing more than 300 bodies. The Khan Younis burial site was constructed because Palestinian civilians could not perform burials due to ongoing military attacks by Israeli forces, Palestinian Civil Defense announced.

“Hospitals are entitled to very special protection under international humanitarian law,” U.N. human rights chief Volker Türk said Tuesday.

“And the intentional killing of civilians, detainees and others who are ‘hors de combat’ (incapable of engaging in combat) is a war crime.”

Türk stated any investigation into the mass graves should be independent of the Israeli government “given the prevailing climate of impunity”, adding that he was “horrified” by the reports.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani added that 30 bodies were discovered at the Al-Shifa Hospital site, including some bound and tied.

She stated that there could be “many more” victims “despite the claim by the Israeli Defense Forces to have killed 200 Palestinians during the Al-Shifa medical complex operation”.

The Israeli military has again stepped-up strikes on southern Gaza in recent days, as it hopes to push into the city of Rafah. A total of 34,000 Palestinians — two-thirds of them women and children — have been killed in the war, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Much of Gaza has now devolved into famine.

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