UN Security Council seeks inquiry into mass graves in Gaza

The United Nations Security Council on Friday called for an immediate and independent investigation [Fatih Aktas/Anadolu/Getty-file photo]

The UN Security Council on Friday called for an immediate and independent investigation into mass graves reportedly containing hundreds of bodies near hospitals in Gaza.

In a statement, members of the council expressed their “deep concern over reports of the discovery of mass graves, in and around the Nasser and Al-Shifa medical facilities in Gaza, where several hundred bodies, including women, children and older persons, were buried”.

The members stressed the need for “accountability” for any violations of international law and called on investigators to be given “unimpeded access to all locations of mass graves in Gaza to conduct immediate, independent, thorough, comprehensive, transparent and impartial investigations”.

Hospitals in the Gaza Strip have been repeatedly targeted since the beginning of the Israeli war on the Palestinian territory.

Israel has claimed that Hamas has used medical facilities as command centers and to hold hostages.

The World Health Organization said in April that Al-Shifa, in Gaza City, had been reduced to an “empty shell”, with many bodies found in the area.

The Israeli army has said around 200 Palestinians were killed during its military operations there.

Bodies have reportedly been found buried in two graves in the hospital’s courtyard.

The UN rights office in late April had itself called for an independent investigation into reports of mass graves at Al-Shifa and at the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis.

Gaza officials said at the time that health workers at the Nasser complex had uncovered hundreds of bodies of Palestinians they alleged had been killed and buried by Israeli forces.

Israel’s army has dismissed the claims as “baseless and unfounded”.

The statement Friday from the Security Council did not say who would conduct the investigations.

But it “reaffirmed the importance of allowing families to know the fate and whereabouts of their missing relatives, consistent with international humanitarian law”.

Israel’s war on Gaza has killed at least 34,943 people, mostly women and children, the strip’s health ministry said on Friday.

A Hamas-led 7 October attack killed 1,170 people, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Around 250 people were abducted, of whom 129 remain captive in Gaza, including 34 the Israeli military says are dead.

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