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Israel's war on Gaza: At least 49 bodies found in new mass grave at al-Shifa hospital

Gaza media office says more than 520 bodies have now been found in seven mass graves at al-Shifa, Nasser and Kamal Adwan hospitals
Civil defence teams in Gaza are pictured after discovering a third mass grave in the vicinity of al-Shifa hospital on 8 May 2024 (Screengrab/YouTube)
Civil defence teams in Gaza are pictured after discovering a third mass grave in the vicinity of al-Shifa hospital on 8 May 2024 (Screengrab/YouTube)

A third mass grave has been discovered in the ruins of Gaza's al-Shifa hospital, the largest medical complex in the Palestinian enclave. 

At least 49 bodies have been recovered so far from the mass grave, the government media office in Gaza said on Wednesday. 

"Government crews are still recovering more bodies until now," it said. "The exhumation operations have not finished, and we expect to find dozens of new bodies."

Footage shared online by local journalists showed bodies being uncovered and examined by civil defence teams amid the wreckage of the medical facility, which has been ravaged by Israeli attacks. 

Israeli forces withdrew from al-Shifa in early April, after a two-week seige that left the entire complex destroyed and piles of bodies in its wake. 

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Israeli officials said at the time that their forces arrested 900 people and killed 200 "terrorists" without harming civilians or medical personnel. Medical organisations and eyewitnesses strongly rejected the claim.

Gaza's government media office said 400 people were killed by Israeli forces in al-Shifa, including "wounded, sick, and displaced people". It said hundreds of people were still missing. 

"Some of these bodies were found in pieces, some of these bodies were found without heads," Motassem Salah, director of the health ministry's emergency operations centre, told reporters on Wednesday. 

Salah said that the ministry's emergency team did not have the necessary personnel or equipment to document evidence of alleged Israeli crimes committed at the hospital. 

"It sadly took us weeks to find these bodies," he said. "The stench of death still exuded from al-Shifa." 

Seven mass graves have been uncovered across the Gaza Strip during the course of the war: three in al-Shifa, three in southern Gaza's Nasser hospital and one in Kamal Adwan hospital in the north. 

'We hold international community responsible'

In total, 520 bodies have been found in these graves, according to Palestinian officials. 

"We hold the American administration, the international community, and the Israeli occupation fully responsible for these mass graves and this blatant aggression against humanity," the media office said on Wednesday.

In mid-April, during the discovery of an earlier mass grave at al-Shifa, an Al Jazeera Arabic reporter at the scene said several bodies were found, including at least one person wearing underwear who appeared to have been "executed recently". 

Days later, at least 200 bodies were retrieved from mass graves in Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. The government media office said at the time that some bodies had been decapitated.

'This is something that forces us to call for an independent investigation'

- Peter Stano, EU spokesman

Rescue teams said some bodies were found with their hands bound behind their backs. Middle East Eye could not independently verify the reported conditions of the bodies. Israel denied it executed Palestinians at the hospital.

The European Union has called for an independent probe into mass graves at Nasser and al-Shifa hospitals.

“This is something that forces us to call for an independent investigation of all the suspicions and all the circumstances, because indeed it creates the impression that there might have been violations of international human rights committed,” EU spokesman Peter Stano said.

The Palestinian health ministry said 55 people have been killed in Israeli attacks on the enclave in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of those killed in Gaza to 34,844 since the war began on 7 October.

At least 78,404 others have been wounded since then, the ministry said. 

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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