Horrible scene in Gaza, dismembered bodies are found in mass graves

Last Updated on May 15, 2024 8:35 am

Local emergency services workers continue to search for mass graves around three hospitals in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, months after Israeli occupation forces launched an operation that blocked them. Israel claims that these hospitals were used as command centers of the Palestinian independence organization Hamas.

Palestinian officials said that the bodies of more than five hundred people were found in various mass graves in Gaza. Some of these bodies show signs of mutilation and torture. Israel’s war crimes in Gaza are proof of that.

However, the Israeli military dismissed such allegations of war crimes as “baseless”. They said these people were killed in fighting between Hamas and Israeli forces in those areas. The Palestinians later buried them.

The United Nations, the United States and the European Union (EU) have called for an impartial investigation to uncover the truth and hold the guilty accountable.

“It is important to preserve all forensic evidence well,” said UN spokesman Stephen Dujarric.

Israel’s intensified attacks on Rafah are preventing it from sending forensic teams to Gaza or providing the necessary materials to search for mass graves. Burial sites are being randomly excavated and evidence collected.

But Israel has intensified its attacks on Rafah, the southernmost and densely populated city of Gaza. Gaza’s border crossing with Egypt has been closed. It is not possible to send forensic teams to the valley or provide necessary materials to search for mass graves. And random digging and evidence collection is going on in the burial places.

At least 10 bodies were found with their hands tied. Others had tubes used for patients in their bodies. About 20 bodies require additional forensic examinations. These individuals may have been buried alive.

Experts say such obstruction will make it difficult to find the truth wherever evidence of Israel’s war crimes may be found. However, all hope of getting justice in this case is not over.

How evidence is collected from mass graves

Three mass graves were discovered in the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis city. Three were found at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and one at Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia.

A fourth mass grave was found at Al-Shifa hospital, Mohammed Zainin, a member of the Palestinian Civil Defense Force in Gaza, told Al-Jazeera. There are 42 dead bodies. As the bodies were mutilated, identification was not possible. However, identity cards were found with some and some were identified by their relatives by looking at their clothing samples.

Mohammad Janin said that the members of the Civil Defense Force are documenting the information about these bodies by taking pictures and videos. They carry little protective equipment. However, there is no forensic material. He said, ‘We have some bags to keep the bodies. Hand and nose protection has little equipment. The reality is that what we are doing is a very early stage step. Our employees are under a lot of pressure.

Thani Nimr Abdel Rahman works with the organization “Al Mizan for Human Rights” in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza. He visited the mass graves of Al-Shifa Hospital. He said, the mass graves are being dug using bulldozers.

Evidence of war crimes found?

Some members of the Civil Defense Force have demanded evidence of torture, extrajudicial killings and unlawful killings of civilians, including torture of mass graves; Which could amount to war crimes.

Rami Dababesh, a member of the Civil Defense Force who participated in the mass grave digging at Al-Shifa Hospital. He told Al-Jazeera that his team saw some bodies with severed heads. In addition, health worker Adel al-Masharabi reported finding the bodies of children and women wearing hospital clothes.

Mohammad Mugir, another member of the Civil Defense Force, said at least 10 bodies were found with their hands tied. Others had tubes attached to their bodies used for patients. He said that about 20 bodies require additional forensic examination. They believe that these people have been buried alive.

Some dead bodies were found in Nasser Medical Complex, which were piled up. This indicates that these people were killed in the open and buried here,” said Yamen Abu Sulaiman, the head of the army in Khan Yunis. At least 392 bodies were found at this place alone.

Will this evidence be credible?

Investigating mass graves is usually a very complicated, lengthy and expensive process. It requires considerable skill and materials. In this case, no damage can be done to the collected body or sample.

Stefan Schmitt, a forensic scientist at Florida International University, has special experience investigating mass graves. He said particularly aggressive methods, such as digging up mass graves with bulldozers in search of bodies, destroy evidence; which could help determine the archaeological evidence. These sources can reveal when and what materials were used for mass graves.

This forensic scientist said that it is difficult to support claims such as beheading or burying the people concerned without an autopsy. He said that just presenting a photo or video of the dead body as evidence may not be enough to dispel suspicion.

Can international organizations help?

The UN has called for “a clear, transparent and credible investigation” into mass graves in Gaza. Supporting the call, the European Union (EU) said the discovery of bodies in hospitals constituted a violation of international law. And the United States said, they want a full and transparent investigation of this incident.

It is not clear which agency will respond to these calls or who may take on the larger task of investigation in the future.

UN human rights spokesman Jeremy Lawrence told Al-Jazeera, “International organizations are not helping to collect evidence from mass graves in Gaza.” Because it requires certain skills; Which in a practical sense the organizations do not have.

How far is the hope of justice

Legal action is ongoing at the United Nations High Court over allegations of genocide and war crimes against Israel in Gaza. The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague is overseeing an investigation into the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel and subsequent Israeli forces’ atrocities in Gaza.

The ICC’s Office of the Chief Counsel has jurisdiction over investigations in the Palestinian territories. However, after the discovery of mass graves in Gaza, there was no public comment from the ministry.

Meanwhile, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is looking into a case made by South Africa against Israel for alleged war crimes in Gaza. However, it may take years to get a verdict on this.

Source: Al-Jazeera

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