Dozens of bodies found in third mass grave at Gaza's Al Shifa Hospital

At least 520 corpses have been discovered in makeshift burial sites at hospitals across the enclave

A bulldozer is used to search for mass graves at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza city this month. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest on Israel-Gaza

At least 49 bodies have been found buried near Al Shifa Hospital in the latest discovery of a mass grave within a medical compound in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, which rules Gaza and has been locked in a war with Israel since October 7, said on Thursday that the latest discovery demanded international attention, calling it a "horror that has exceeded the limits of human imagination".

It is the third mass grave discovered at Al Shifa in Gaza city. It was once the enclave's biggest medical complex but has been destroyed by the Israeli military.

"Recovery operations are still ongoing," a local governmental media office statement said. "We are expecting to find dozens of new bodies."

It clarified that the dead were medical, nursing and administrative staff who were working at Al Shifa Hospital. Hundreds of wounded people, patients and displaced people had been killed, it said.

Seven mass graves have been found on hospital grounds around Gaza – one at Kamal Adwan in the north of the enclave, three at Al Shifa in central Gaza and another three at Al Nasser medical complex in Khan Younis in the south, with a total of 520 bodies found.

Last month, at least 300 bodies were found at Al Nasser, which had been raided and severely damaged by Israeli forces. Some of those buried had been stripped naked, with their hands tied.

Speaking to The National at the time from the scene, civil defence official Mohammad Massoud said most of the bodies were unidentified as they had decomposed or were in pieces.

"We found bones of children, women and men," he said, adding that the bodies were dealt with "savagely" and that there had been no respect for the dead. "Most of the bodies were not in shrouds."

At least 20 of those discovered at Al Nasser were believed to have been buried alive, officials said.

Hamas called on rights groups to gather the evidence and submit it to the International Criminal Court so that those responsible could be prosecuted.

Meanwhile, Palestine’s envoy to the UN urged the Security Council to call for independent investigations into the mass graves discovered at Al Shifa and Nasser hospitals.

Riyad Mansour stressed the need to “establish the precise circumstances under which hundreds of Palestinians lost their lives and were buried, or reburied”. In a letter to council members, he said: “The time for accountability is long past due.”

Israel's war in Gaza, following the attacks carried out by Hamas on southern Israel, has killed more than 34,900 people, with an estimated 10,000 missing.

Israel has firmly rejected claims it is responsible for the mass graves.

The Israeli army launched weeks-long raids on several hospitals, killing and displacing medical staff and patients. The army claimed the buildings were being used as command centres by Hamas. Hospital authorities and Hamas denied the claims.

Updated: May 09, 2024, 1:25 PM