Israel claims hundreds of bodies found at Gaza hospital not military mass grave

Credit: AP

Hundreds of bodies have been found buried at a hospital in Gaza's southern city of Khan Younis.

At least 73 bodies were discovered on Monday inside the courtyard of the Nasser hospital, which Colonel Yamen Abu Suleiman Director of Civil Defence for the city said brought the “total number to 283".

The bodies were uncovered after the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) departed the area on April 7.

Previously, a Khan Younis Civil Defence spokesman said it was searching for the bodies of an estimated 400 missing people after the IDF left.

The area around the Nasser Medical Complex saw intense bombardment and combat in January and February.

At the time, it was reported that bodies were being buried in the hospital grounds because of a lack of safe access to cemeteries.

But it is not clear who buried the recently discovered bodies nor whether they were put there as a makeshift cemetery or placed in a mass grave.

Without providing evidence, the Israeli military said: "The claim that the IDF buried Palestinian bodies is baseless and unfounded".

The IDF previously confirmed it had exhumed dozens of bodies in Gaza for DNA tests in Israel, before returning the remains in containers.

It claimed that after examination bodies were put back to where they had been originally buried.

After the military withdrew from Khan Younis earlier this month, residents have been returning to the site in search of the bodies of their loved ones with the aim of burying them in permanent graves elsewhere.

One man at the scene said he was yet to find the body of his 21-year old son, who was killed in January.

“I haven’t found him yet. We had buried him over there. But we can’t find him. And we wanted to make him a decent grave.”

Another man, who said his brother Alaa was also killed in January, said: “I am here today looking for him. I have been coming here to the hospital for the last two weeks and trying to find him. Hopefully, I will be able to find him.”

Pointing to a fallen palm tree, the man said his brother had been temporarily buried in that spot.

“I had buried him there on the side, but I can’t find him. The Israelis have dug up the dead bodies, and switched them. They took DNA tests and misplaced all the dead bodies.”

The man’s mother said they had been searching for two weeks and had been unable to find his body.

The war, now in its seventh month, has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to local health authorities. Israeli authorities say 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed and roughly 250 people taken hostage in Hamas’ October 7 attack.

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