UN Rights Chief 'Horrified' by Mass Grave Reports at Gaza Hospitals

Palestinian paramedics carry away bodies of dead people uncovered in the vicinity of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on April 17, 2024 after the recent Israeli military operation there. (Photo by AFP)
Palestinian paramedics carry away bodies of dead people uncovered in the vicinity of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on April 17, 2024 after the recent Israeli military operation there. (Photo by AFP)
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UN Rights Chief 'Horrified' by Mass Grave Reports at Gaza Hospitals

Palestinian paramedics carry away bodies of dead people uncovered in the vicinity of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on April 17, 2024 after the recent Israeli military operation there. (Photo by AFP)
Palestinian paramedics carry away bodies of dead people uncovered in the vicinity of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on April 17, 2024 after the recent Israeli military operation there. (Photo by AFP)

UN rights chief Volker Turk said on Tuesday he was "horrified" by the destruction of the Nasser and Al-Shifa medical facilities in Gaza and reports of mass graves containing hundreds of bodies there, according to a spokesperson.

Palestinian authorities reported finding hundreds of bodies in mass graves at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis this week after it was abandoned by Israeli troops. Bodies were also reported at the Al-Shifa site following an Israeli special forces operation.

The Israeli military said claims by Palestinian authorities that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had buried bodies were "baseless and unfounded". It said forces searching for Israeli hostages had examined bodies previously buried by Palestinians near Nasser hospital and had returned the bodies to where they were buried after they were examined.

"The examination was conducted in a careful manner and exclusively in places where intelligence indicated the possible presence of hostages. The examination was carried out respectfully while maintaining the dignity of the deceased," it said in a statement.

Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the rights organization was raising the alarm because multiple bodies had been discovered. Turk said he had been horrified by the reported mass grave discoveries and the hospitals' destruction, she said.

"Some of them had their hands tied, which of course indicates serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and these need to be subjected to further investigations," Shamdasani said.

She added that the UN human rights office was working on corroborating Palestinian officials' reports, including one that 30 bodies were found at Al-Shifa. According to those reports, some of the bodies were buried beneath piles of waste and included women and older people.

Reuters reporters on Monday saw emergency workers digging corpses out of the ground in the ruins of Nasser hospital.

Gaza's Hamas-run Civil Emergency Service said on Tuesday a total of 310 bodies had been found at one mass grave at Nasser so far and that two other graves had been identified, but not yet excavated. The Palestinian health ministry repeated the figure.

Turk, who was represented by Shamdasani at a UN press briefing, also decried Israeli strikes on Gaza in recent days, which he said had killed mostly women and children.

He also repeated a warning against a full-scale incursion on Rafah where some 1.2 million civilians are crowded together, saying this could lead to "further atrocity crimes".

Violence has also surged in the occupied West Bank since Israel's war on Hamas began on Oct. 7, sparked by the latter's cross-border attacks on Israel which killed 1,200 people according to Israeli tallies.

Palestinian health authorities said 14 Palestinians had been killed on Saturday in the Nur Shams area in one of the heaviest tolls in the West Bank in months.

Shamdasani said the UN human rights office had received reports that some the victims in Nur Shams had been killed in apparent extrajudicial executions. The Hamas media office has accused Israel of executions but has not shared visual or other evidence. Israel denies carrying out executions.

Israel's military has previously said a number of militants were killed or arrested in the West Bank raid and at least four soldiers wounded.



Yemen's Houthis Say to Escalate Military Operations in Support of Gaza

A Houthi military helicopter flies over a cargo ship in the Red Sea. (Reuters)
A Houthi military helicopter flies over a cargo ship in the Red Sea. (Reuters)
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Yemen's Houthis Say to Escalate Military Operations in Support of Gaza

A Houthi military helicopter flies over a cargo ship in the Red Sea. (Reuters)
A Houthi military helicopter flies over a cargo ship in the Red Sea. (Reuters)

Yemen's Houthis will continue their military operations and escalate them "in quality and quantity" in support of Palestinians in Israel's war in Gaza, the Iran-backed group's leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi said in a televised speech on Thursday, Reuters reported.

The group have been attacking ships in the Red Sea region since November, forcing shippers to re-route cargo to longer and more expensive journeys around southern Africa.

The group later expanded the scope of its attacks to the Indian Ocean and said it would also target any ships heading towards Israeli ports in the Mediterranean Sea.