At least 20 Palestinians feared buried alive at Gaza's Nasser Hospital, civil defence says

Call for UN investigation after bodies in surgical gowns found in shallow graves

Health workers unearth bodies found at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. AFP
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At least 20 Palestinians may have been buried alive in a mass grave at a hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza's civil defence said on Thursday as it continues excavating the site.

Three mass graves have been found at Nasser Hospital, weeks after Israeli forces ended the last of several lengthy raids on the medical complex.

The bodies of 392 people, including children, have been found in the graves since they were discovered on Saturday, civil defence chief Yamen Abu Sulaiman said. Most have not been identified.

"We believe that the occupation buried alive at least 20 people at the Nasser Medical Complex," Mr Abu Suleiman said, adding that some bodies bore signs of mutilation and torture.

"There are cases of field execution of some patients while undergoing surgeries and wearing surgical gowns," his team said at a press conference.

Mr Abu Suleiman said bodies were buried about three metres deep in plastic bags, which caused them to decompose more quickly.

"The occupation deliberately concealed evidence of its crimes in the Nasser Complex by changing the plastic shrouds more than once," he said, without providing further details.

Civil defence member Mohammed Mughier said the bodies needed to be forensically examined to determine if they were alive when they were buried.

Ten bodies were found with medical tubes attached, he added.

The civil defence team called on the UN to form an international committee to investigate potential field executions and crimes against humanity at the site.

Israel has firmly rejected claims it is responsible for the mass graves, saying it searched them based on intelligence that hostages had been buried there.

The foreign ministry said Palestinian reports that Israeli forces had dug the mass graves were "misinformation". It said they were dug by Gazans several months ago, sharing video footage shared by Palestinians of mass graves being dug in January.

In January, medical staff at Nasser Hospital told The National that mass graves were being dug around the hospital amid a continuing Israeli raid.

Mass graves are the final resting place for most Palestinians killed in the war, civil defence said earlier this week.

Palestinians have buried patients, medical staff and patients' relatives in mass graves within hospital compounds during previous raids, citing the Israeli military preventing them from leaving the grounds as the reason for doing so.

Doctors at the Indonesian Hospital, in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza, described the complex as a "mass grave" as bodies piled up in corridors and outside morgues during a November raid.

Medical authorities have denied Israeli claims that hospitals in Gaza are used by Hamas as command centres.

Mass graves have also been found at Al Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital, which was completely destroyed in a raid last month.

Teams from the World Health Organisation who found graves and decomposing bodies at the hospital in Gaza city described the scenes as "horrible and unimaginable".

Updated: April 25, 2024, 12:49 PM