MASS GRAVES AT GAZA HOSPITALS – EU & UN call for war crimes inquiry

Palestinian Civil Defence forces retrieve some of the hundreds of bodies buried by Israeli forces in mass graves around Nasser Hospital

THE EU and the UN called for an official probe into mass graves at hospitals in Gaza, where hundreds of bodies have been discovered, many with their hands tied behind their backs, indicating executions and war crimes.

The European Union wants an investigation into mass graves uncovered at Gaza’s Nasser and al-Shifa medical facilities.

‘This is something that forces us to call for an independent investigation of all the suspicions and all the circumstances, because indeed it creates the impression that there might have been violations of international human rights committed,’ EU spokesman Peter Stano said.

The UN also demanded a transparent inquiry into the mass graves, where Palestinian civil defence crew have found more than 300 bodies.

UN human rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said some of the bodies at Nasser Hospital were ‘found with their hands tied and stripped of their clothes’, and demanded independent and transparent investigations into the deaths, adding that ‘given the prevailing climate of impunity, this should include international investigators’.

UN human rights chief Volker Türk said he was ‘horrified’ by the destruction of the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis, and the reported mass graves in and around the facilities after the Israelis left.

Meanwhile, the Arab League has demanded restoration of UNWRA funding.

The Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said an independent review of the UN refugee agency shows Israel’s allegations against it were baseless and part of a ‘systematic campaign’ to close it down.

Aboul Gheit urged all countries that suspended funding to urgently resume financial assistance to UNRWA, calling it a ‘humanitarian necessity and a moral duty’.

He specifically urged UNRWA’s largest donor, the United States, to restore payments.

The independent probe this week found Israel provided ‘no evidence’ for its allegations that some UNWRA staff collaborated with Hamas during its October 7 operation.

Israel’s accusations led to 16 donor countries suspending or pausing funding to the refugee agency, leaving it with a gap of some $450m as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians struggle to survive war and starvation.

UNRWA completed a joint aid delivery mission in northern Gaza on Tuesday, bringing ‘life-saving medical and water-purification’ supplies to residents of Jabalia, where aid shortages are among the worst in the enclave.

Air raids continued to pound the city of Jabalia, targeting more residential homes and UNRWA facilities. There were reports of many people being injured and transferred to a nearby, privately owned clinic in preparation to move to Ahli Arab Hospital.

Gaza could surpass famine thresholds of food insecurity, malnutrition and mortality in six weeks, said the Geneva director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Gian Carlo Cirri yesterday.

‘We are getting closer by the day to a famine situation,’ Cirri said, speaking at the launch of a report by the Global Network Against Food Crises, an alliance that includes UN agencies, the World Bank, the EU and US.

A UN-backed report published in March said famine was imminent and likely to occur by May in northern Gaza and could spread across the Strip by July.

‘As for Gaza, the conflict makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to reach affected people,’ Cirri said.

‘We need to scale up massively our assistance… But under the current conditions, I’m afraid the situation will further deteriorate.’

At least 34,262 Palestinians have been killed and 77,229 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7, its Health Ministry said yesterday.

The ministry added that 79 people were killed and 86 injured in the latest 24-hour reporting period.

• The offensive in Rafah will happen ‘very soon’, the widely circulated Israel Hayom newspaper said, citing a decision by the Israeli government. Several other Israeli media outlets published similar reports.