Palestinians search for loved ones among mass graves at Gaza's Nasser Hospital

One woman tells The National she is sure she will recognise the body of her son, despite it probably having decomposed

Grief as loved ones found at mass grave in Gaza

Grief as loved ones found at mass grave in Gaza
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest on Israel-Gaza

Gaza's Nasser Hospital has become a site of desperation and grief as Palestinians search for loved ones among the decomposing bodies recovered from mass graves, with the smell of death lingering in the air.

More than 325 bodies have been recovered in and around the hospital in Khan Younis since Israeli troops withdrew from the complex. Palestinian authorities have said the Israeli army left behind mass graves filled with bodies, many of which they say were found with their hands tied.

One woman told The National from the site that she has been visiting the hospital every day for two weeks in hope of finding her son's body.

Even if he was decomposed, I'll still get a feeling. He's my son. My soul. My heart
Reem Zeidan, mother of Nabil Mohammad Zeidan

Reem Zeidan said Nabil Mohammad Zeidan was killed on January 22.

"Whenever he heard shelling, he would usually call us and tell us that he's alive. But that day communications were down. We lost contact," she said on Wednesday.

After making calls and attempting to find out what happened to her son, Ms Zeidan eventually saw his name published by the Ministry of Health in the list of people killed.

With many of the bodies decomposed, or in pieces, Ms Zeidan remains certain she will recognise her son.

"Even if he was decomposed, I'll still get a feeling. He's my son. My soul. My heart. When someone is with you for 23 years, you see them with your heart before your eyes."

Ms Zeidan said some of the bodies pulled out were found with their hands shackled or bound to their feet. Some were even found with ties around their neck, she said.

Maj Mohammad Massoud is part of the civil defence team working on extracting the bodies. He said some were found without shrouds, indicating that Israel "has no respect for the dead".

It has also been difficult identifying some of the bodies.

"Most of the bodies are unknown. Most are decomposed or shredded. We found the bones of children, women and men," Maj Massoud told The National.

He said he was informed by medical staff at Nasser Hospital about the presence of another mass grave, west of the complex.

The Israeli military said claims it had buried bodies were “baseless and unfounded”.

The UN has voiced its alarm at the reports of mass graves, with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, saying he was "horrified".

It has called for an independent investigation into the findings and the alleged killing of civilians at the hospital.

Updated: April 25, 2024, 6:33 AM