UN Calls For Investigation Into Gaza Mass Graves


The United Nations is calling for an “independent, effective and transparent ” investigation into the discovery of mass graves at two major hospitals in Gaza following the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied medical complexes. 

Earlier this week, the Palestinian Civil Defense said it had uncovered hundreds of bodies in a mass grave created by Israeli forces on the grounds of Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. Two weeks ago, a similar grave was discovered at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. 

While many of the bodies uncovered have been identified as Palestinians moved from temporary graves around the hospitals by the Israeli Defense Forces — who exhumed the corpses to conduct DNA testing — hundreds of Palestinians who were alive when Israeli forces raided the hospitals remain missing. Israeli forces claim they detained or killed several hundred Hamas militants sheltering the hospital, but in the face of accusations of extrajudicial killings taking place in the hospitals have not provided verification as to the identities of those killed in the raids.

“Among the deceased were allegedly older people, women and wounded, while others were found tied with their hands … tied and stripped of their clothes,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Tuesday. “Victims had reportedly been buried deep in the ground and covered with waste.”

UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk said Tuesday that “given the prevailing climate of impunity, this should include international investigators.”

“Hospitals are entitled to very special protection under international humanitarian law. And the intentional killing of civilians, detainees, and others who are hors de combat is a war crime,” he said. 

Given Israel’s control over the territory, the entry of international observers, international press, and humanitarian aid has been heavily restricted. Israel has repeatedly accused the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) of employing individuals involved in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack against Israel, but has provided no evidence to back up the claim. 

Following the murders of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers by Israeli forces in March, President Joe Biden cautioned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. may scale back its support for Israeli military action in Gaza if Israel failed to “implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers.” 


While reports continue to emerge about Israeli forces’ disregard for civilians — including 18 children killed in an airstrike over the weekend — there is no concrete sign that the Biden administration will withhold aid to Israel, and Biden is now preparing to sign a massive foreign aid package containing $25.3 billion in aid to Israel. 

When asked if he was aware of the discovery of the mass graves, State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Tuesday that the Biden administration was “inquiring about it with the government of Israel.” 

Source link: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/un-investigation-gaza-mass-graves-1235009511/

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