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200 bodies at Nasser hospital in Gaza, say local authorities

200 bodies at Nasser hospital in Gaza, say local authorities

World

Health workers had uncovered around 200 bodies buried by Israeli forces at a hospital in Khan Yunis.

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PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES (Reuters) - Gaza's Civil Defence agency said Monday (Apr 22) that health workers had uncovered around 200 bodies over the past three days of people killed and buried by Israeli forces at a hospital in Khan Yunis.

When asked for comment, the Israeli military said: "We will come back to you on the matter."

Mahmud Bassal, spokesman for Gaza's Civil Defence, told AFP that "civil defence crews are still recovering bodies from inside Nasser Medical Complex, and since Saturday bodies of nearly 200 martyrs have been retrieved".

Bassal said several of the recovered bodies had decomposed. "There is difficulty in the process of identifying them but civil defence efforts are ongoing," he said.

On Sunday, Bassal told AFP that some of those killed had been tortured. Ismail al-Thawabta, head of the Hamas government media office in the Palestinian territory, gave a higher figure of 283 bodies found at the hospital.

"We discovered mass graves inside Nasser Medical Complex" of people killed by "the occupation (Israeli) army", Thawabta told AFP.

"We demand an international investigation to closely examine these crimes against civilians, children, and women," he said.

Muhammad al-Mughayyir, a senior official at the civil defence agency, also confirmed the discovery of corpses at the facility and said the work to retrieve the remaining bodies would continue until Thursday.

Intense fighting raged in mid-February in the area of Nasser hospital and Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles surrounded it on Mar 26.

Hospitals in Gaza have not been spared in the Israeli assault against Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military accuses Hamas of using hospitals and medical facilities as command centres and to hold hostages abducted in the Oct 7 attack. Hamas denies the accusation.

WHO: AL SHIFA HOSPITAL "EMPTY SHELL" WITH BODIES

The World Health Organization said on Apr 6 that the Palestinian territory's largest hospital, Al-Shifa in Gaza City, had been reduced to ashes by an Israeli siege last month, leaving an "empty shell" containing many bodies.

WHO staff who gained access to the devastated facility described horrifying scenes of bodies only partly buried, their limbs sticking out, and the stench of decomposition.

Israel is engaged in a sweeping military assault against Hamas militants in Gaza after the militant group launched an attack on southern Israeli communities on Oct 7.

The unprecedented attack resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Some 250 people were abducted to Gaza during the attack, of whom 129 remain captive, including 34 the Israeli military says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has so far killed at least 34,151 people in the Gaza Strip, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

UN EXPERT: "WAR ON THE RIGHT TO HEALTH"

In Geneva, a UN expert said on Monday that Israel's war in Gaza has from the start been a "war on the right to health" and has "obliterated" the Palestinian territory's health system.

Tlaleng Mofokeng, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health, accused Israel of treating human rights as an "a la carte menu".

Just days into the war that has been raging in Gaza since Hamas's unprecedented attacks inside Israel on Oct 7, "the medical infrastructure was irreparably damaged", she told reporters in Geneva.

Amid the unrelenting Israeli bombardment of Gaza, healthcare providers had for months been working under dire conditions with very limited access to medical supplies, she said.

"This has been a war on the right to health from the beginning," said Mofokeng, who is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but who does not speak on behalf of the United Nations.

"The health system in Gaza has been completely obliterated and the right to health has been decimated at every level".

GLOBAL OPPOSITION TO ISRAEL ACTION IN GAZA

There has been growing global opposition to Israel's offensive in Gaza, which has turned vast areas of the densely populated territory into rubble and sparked a dire humanitarian crisis including warnings of famine.

Gaza's hospitals, which are protected under international humanitarian law, have repeatedly come under attack.

"The destruction of healthcare facilities continues to catapult to proportions yet to be fully quantified," said Mofokeng, a medical doctor from South Africa.

The expert said she had received no response from Israel to the concerns she had raised about the situation, and that she had not been able to visit the Palestinian territory or Israel.

But she said it was obvious that Israel was "killing and causing irreparable harm against Palestinian civilians with its bombardments".

"They are also knowingly and intentionally imposing famine, prolonged malnutrition and dehydration", the expert added, accusing Israel of "genocide".

The current situation in Gaza, she said, "is completely incompatible with the right to health".