The United Nations calls for an investigation into mass graves found in Gaza hospitals

United Nations leaders student A “clear, transparent and credible” investigation was launched on Tuesday after the discovery of mass graves containing the bodies of hundreds of men and women on the grounds of two major hospitals in Gaza that had previously been attacked by the Israeli army.

The United Nations said the mass graves included some people who were stripped of their clothes and with their hands tied, raising concerns about possible war crimes, and described the bodies as “buried deep in the ground and covered in waste.”

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Tuesday that investigators must have full access to the sites and ensure their safety from the Israeli military.

Mass graves were discovered in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, and Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, containing bodies. 283 bodies in Al-Nasser site alone. The Palestinian Civil Defense said that the burial site in Khan Yunis was constructed because Palestinian civilians were unable to perform burial operations due to ongoing military attacks by Israeli forces.

“Hospitals are entitled to very special protection under international humanitarian law,” Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Tuesday. “The intentional killing of civilians, detainees and others who are ‘hors de combat’ (unable to participate in combat) is a war crime.”

Türk said any investigation into the mass graves must be independent of the Israeli government “given the prevailing climate of impunity,” adding that he was “horrified” by the reports.

Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, added that 30 bodies were discovered at the Shifa Hospital site, some of them bound and shackled.

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She added that there could be “more” casualties “despite the Israeli army's claim that 200 Palestinians were killed during the Shifa Medical Complex operation.”

US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel called reports of mass graves “incredibly troubling” and said the Biden administration questioned the Israeli government.

The Israeli government said that its forces had previously exhumed bodies buried at the sites in search of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in the conflict. The Israeli army surrounded hospitals for several days earlier this year, claiming that Hamas fighters were inside among civilians. These allegations could not be independently verified.

It is unclear which body would conduct the investigation if allowed to do so.

The Israeli army has once again intensified its attacks on southern Gaza in recent days, with hopes of penetrating into the city of Rafah. A total of 34,000 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and children, were killed in the war, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.

Much of the Gaza Strip has now turned into famine, as the Biden administration continues to pressure the Israeli government to allow more humanitarian aid into the Strip as the humanitarian crisis worsens.

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