BLOG The Israeli army denies that it buried the bodies of Palestinians on the grounds of a hospital in Gaza

Conflict between Israel and Hamas - 200rd day

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The northern part of the Gaza Strip (April 22, 2024), Photo: Reuters
The northern part of the Gaza Strip (April 22, 2024), Photo: Reuters
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Ažurirano: 23.04.2024. 21:59h
Finished
20: 06h

The Israeli army today denied accusations that it buried Palestinian bodies in mass graves at a hospital in the Gaza Strip, saying it dug up and then reburied the bodies there in search of the bodies of Israeli hostages.

"Allegations that the Israeli army buried the bodies of Palestinians there are unfounded," the army said.

As it was added, during the operation in the area of ​​the Nasser Hospital in the city of Khan Yunis, the army, in an attempt to locate the hostages and the missing, examined the bodies buried by the Palestinians, and did so "carefully" and only in places where "intelligence data indicated the possible presence of hostages". , the army announced and gave assurances that it preserved the dignity of the dead.

"The examined bodies that were not those of the hostages were returned to their place," the army added.

An official of the Civil Defense of the Gaza Strip confirmed today to France Press that his teams have found the bodies of around 340 people in mass graves in the grounds of Nasser Hospital since Saturday.

Some bodies had their hands tied, he added.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Folker Turk, said in a statement today that he is horrified by the destruction of the Nasser Hospital as well as Al Shifa in Gaza City and the discovery of mass graves in and around those places.

He called for an "independent, honest and transparent investigation into the dead" and asked to include international investigators given the "climate of impunity that prevails".

"Hospitals have the right to special protection under international humanitarian law. And the deliberate killing of civilians, prisoners and other persons considered to be outside the conflict is a war crime," he warned.

In its message to the French press, the Israeli army announced that it had recently arrested about "200 terrorists" inside Nasser Hospital, during a "precise and targeted operation" against the Palestinian movement Hamas in that sector, and that "no harm was caused to the hospital, patients and hospital staff". .

"Medicines intended for the hostages, which were never handed over or used," as well as a large amount of ammunition were discovered, according to a statement from the Israeli army.

16: 51h

The European Union (EU) today called on donors to the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to continue providing support, a day after the publication of a report mentioning problems with the agency's political neutrality.

"I call on donors to support UNRWA, which is of vital importance for Palestinian refugees," European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Janez Lenarčič wrote on the X platform.

The EU is the biggest donor to UNRWA, which Israel accuses of employing more than "400 terrorists" in Gaza.

Lenarcic said he welcomed the report commissioned by the UN from former French foreign minister Catherine Colonne, which he said "underlines the system of compliance established by the UN agency" to guarantee its integrity and neutrality after the Israeli accusation.

UNWRA in the Gaza Strip has "political neutrality" problems, but Israel has yet to provide evidence that some members of the agency are linked to "terrorist organizations" such as the Palestinian movement Hamas, according to a report submitted to the UN secretary-general and published on Monday.

That UN agency has more than 30.000 employees.

About 5,9 million Palestinians in the region (Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria) are registered to receive aid with the UN agency.

Israeli authorities have accused 12 UNWRA employees of being directly involved in an unprecedented attack on 7 October 2023 by Hamas on Israeli soil that killed 1.170 people, mostly civilians.

That accusation led to the suspension of funding from certain donor countries. Many have renewed support, including Canada, Sweden, Japan, the EU and France, but others, such as the US and the UK, have not.

UNRWA, which was established by the UN General Assembly in 1949, is "the backbone of humanitarian operations" in Gaza, its head, Filipe Lazarini, told the UN Security Council last Sunday, denouncing the "insidious campaign" to end its operations.

"The unmasking of UNWRA will have lasting consequences," with special reference to "the worsening of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the acceleration of the onset of famine," warned Lazarini.

Famine is already looming in the northern part of the Palestinian territory, where more than 34.000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the Israeli offensive began, according to the Health Ministry of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

14: 43h

There is no justification for ending Hamas' presence in Doha, says Qatar.

Qatar has said there is no justification for ending the presence of the office of the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Doha as its mediation efforts continue in the Gaza war, Reuters reports.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed Al-Ansari added at a press conference that Qatar remained committed to mediation but was reviewing its role in the "frustration of attacks" within its efforts.

14: 41h

Israeli military strikes across the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours killed 32 Palestinians and wounded 59 others, Palestinian health authorities said.

It is said that more than 34.000 people have been confirmed killed in the seven-month war, and that thousands more bodies are still undiscovered, according to Reuters.

13: 53h

Israel bombarded northern Gaza overnight in some of the heaviest shelling in weeks, causing panic among residents and flattening neighborhoods in an area where the Israeli army had previously withdrawn its troops, residents said, Reuters reported.

Army tanks made another incursion east of Beit Hanun on the northern edge of the Gaza Strip, although they did not penetrate far into the town, residents and Hamas media said. The shooting reached some schools where displaced residents had taken refuge.

In Israel, where government offices and businesses were closed to celebrate the Jewish Passover, incoming missile warnings sounded in southern border towns, although there were no reports of casualties.

The armed wing of Islamic Jihad, a group allied to Hamas, claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks on Sderot and Nir Am, indicating the fighters were still able to launch them nearly 200 days into the war, which leveled large parts of the enclave and displaced nearly all of 2,3 million people.

Thick black smoke could be seen rising in northern Gaza across Israel's southern border. Shelling was intense east of Beit Hanun and Jabalia and continued in the morning in areas such as Zeytoun, one of Gaza City's oldest suburbs, with residents reporting at least 10 strikes along the main road in a matter of seconds.

Just west of Beit Hanun in Beit Lahia, medics and Hamas media said the strikes hit a mosque and a crowd gathering on the coastal road to collect air-dropped aid. Reuters could not immediately confirm those statements.

"It was one of those nights of horror we lived in at the beginning of the war. The bombing of tanks and planes did not stop," said Umm Mohamed (53), a mother of six who lives 700 meters from Zeytun.

"I had to gather with my children and my sisters who came to shelter with me in one place and pray for our lives as the house continued to shake," she told Reuters via a chat app.

"I don't know if we will come out alive before this war ends," she added.

The Israeli military said the rockets fired at Israel overnight came from firing positions in northern Gaza. The military hit rocket launchers and killed several militants overnight in what it said were "targeted and precise" strikes.

"Over the past day, IAF fighter jets and additional aircraft struck approximately 25 terrorist targets across the Gaza Strip, including military infrastructure, observation posts, terrorists, launch points," the statement said.

Targeting the area from where the army retreated

The renewed shelling and bombing of northern Gaza comes nearly four months after Israel's military announced it was withdrawing its troops there, saying Hamas no longer controlled the areas.

This month, Israel also withdrew most of its forces from southern Gaza. But efforts to reach a ceasefire have failed, and Israeli bombardment and attacks on territory from which its troops withdrew are making it difficult for displaced Gazans to return to their abandoned homes. Israel also attacked Khan Younis in the south today, a day after tanks attacked the eastern parts of that city.

Israel says it is seeking to root out Hamas, which controls the enclave, after the militant group attacked on October 7, killing 1.200 and taking 253 hostages, according to Israeli reports.

Residents also reported shelling east of Deir Al-Balah today in the central zone that separates the north from the south.

At Nasser Hospital, the main health facility in southern Gaza, authorities recovered 35 more bodies from what they say was one of at least three mass graves found at the site, bringing the total found there to 310 in a week.

Israel says it was forced to fight in hospitals because Hamas fighters were operating there, which the medical staff and Hamas deny, writes Reuters.

Change: 14:40 p.m
13: 27h

The Turkish president, Recep Erdogan, whose statements are reported by the media, said that he does not believe that the Palestinian militant group Hamas will leave Qatar, where it is located, adding that he has not seen such signs even from Doha, reports Reuters.

Speaking to reporters on his return flight from Iraq, Erdogan also said that Israel's full occupation of Gaza would "open the door" to further invasions of the Palestinian territories, according to broadcaster Haberturk and other media outlets.

Change: 13:52 p.m
13: 05h

UN human rights chief Volker Turk said he was "appalled" by the destruction of Gaza's Nasser and Al Shifa health facilities and reports of mass graves containing hundreds of bodies, a spokeswoman said, according to Reuters.

The Palestinian Authority reported finding bodies in mass graves at Khan Yunis hospital this Sunday after it was abandoned by Israeli troops.

Bodies were also reported at the Al Shifa site following an operation by Israeli special forces.

"We feel the need to raise the alarm, because it is clear that more bodies have been discovered," said Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"Some of them had their hands tied, which of course indicates serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, which should be subject to further investigation."

She added that the UN Human Rights Office is working to confirm reports by Palestinian officials that 283 bodies were found in Nasser and 30 in Al Shifa.

According to those reports, bodies were buried under piles of debris, including women and elderly people.

Turk, speaking at a UN briefing through Shamdasani, also condemned Israeli attacks on Gaza in recent days, which he said killed mostly women and children.

He also reiterated his warning against a full-scale raid on Rafah, saying it could lead to "further atrocities".

Change: 13:48 p.m
13: 04h

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has entered its 200th day. 

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