Rescue teams recover more than 200 bodies, including children, elderly women and young men.

Palestinian civil defense said on Sunday it found hundreds of Palestinian bodies buried in mass graves by Israeli forces in the courtyard of the Nasser hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

At least 200 bodies had been removed from two mass graves at the medical complex by noon on Sunday local time.

As the search continued, rescuers estimated there were at least 400 bodies.

The Gaza government’s media office said some of the bodies found had been decapitated and had their skin and organs removed.

According to Al Jazeera, the bodies of children, elderly women and young men were among those found.

Rescuers said some bodies had their hands tied behind their backs, suggesting they had been executed and buried there.

Middle East Eye was unable to independently verify the reported conditions of the bodies.

As news of the mass graves spread, many people arrived at the hospital hoping to find missing family members.

Medical teams evacuate the bodies of dozens of Palestinians who were found in a mass grave in the courtyards of Naser hospital in the city of Khan Younis.

The mass graves were discovered weeks after Israeli troops ended a three-month invasion of Khan Younis, during which ground forces repeatedly attacked the Nasser hospital.

The hospital, Gaza’s second largest and the “backbone” of the healthcare system in southern Gaza, was put out of service following deadly Israeli attacks in February, when 10,000 people were sheltering in the medical complex.

The army raided the hospital twice after a weeks-long siege in January, during which 200 people were detained, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and hundreds of patients and displaced people who were sheltering in the building were forcibly removed.

Medical staff reported being stripped naked, beaten and humiliated by Israeli forces, with many staff and patients being targeted by sniper fire.

In March, the BBC released verified footage showing people detained and kneeling inside the complex after the raid. It also verified images documenting 21 cases of arson against staff and patients during the siege.

Health officials said there was not enough power and staff at the hospital to treat about 200 patients who remained there after the siege.

According to Palestinian Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra, the hospital’s generators failed, cutting off the water supply, while sewage flooded the emergency rooms, making the remaining staff unable to treat intensive care patients. .

He added that the lack of oxygen supply, also due to a lack of energy, caused the deaths of at least seven patients.

Israel said the hospital housed Hamas fighters, a claim it has regularly made when attacking hospitals in Gaza, despite having produced no credible evidence of a military presence inside them.

More mass graves

This is not the first mass grave discovered at a medical center in the Gaza Strip.

The discovery follows one earlier this month at the al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City, formerly Gaza’s largest hospital, which was left in ruins after a two-week attack by Israeli forces in late March.

Several bodies were found on Monday in the hospital courtyard, including at least one person wearing underwear who appeared to have been “recently executed,” according to an Al Jazeera Arabic reporter present at the scene.

Scenes from Al Jazeera show the presence of a mass grave of Palestinians buried by occupation forces in the courtyard of the Shifa Medical Complex, in the city of #غزة. It is considered one of the first mass graves in the complex. | Report: Ismail Al-Ghoul

After Israeli forces withdrew from the hospital on April 1, having destroyed most of the medical complex, teams from several government ministries were sent to al-Shifa to remove and identify bodies.

The searches were launched after survivors said they witnessed the summary execution of Palestinians by Israeli forces during the attack.

Israeli military officials said their forces killed 200 people and arrested 900 during the 15-day attack on the hospital. Gaza civil defense said around 300 people were killed.

The army said it carried out the attack without harming civilians or medical personnel. Medical organizations and eyewitnesses have strongly rejected this claim.

Ahmad al-Maqadmeh, a Palestinian plastic surgeon, and his mother, Yusra al-Maqadmeh, a general practitioner, were among the dead.

Report published by Middle East Eye, on April 21, 2024.


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