Mass graves found at Gaza hospitals raided by Israel prompt demands for independent investigation

The IDF did not say exactly when remains were examined at the site, but noted that some 200 people at the facility were apprehended during its raid of the hospital in February. It said medicines intended for Israeli hostages were also found at the site during the raid, which it previously said had ended by Feb. 25. NBC News was not able to independently verify its claims.

Türk underlined that investigations into any deaths at the hospitals should be independent and international, rather than Israeli, “given the prevailing climate of impunity.”

There had been intense fighting around Nasser Hospital since January, when thousands of people were trapped inside, including hundreds of patients. Israeli forces conducted a sweeping raid of the hospital in February and withdrew ground forces from Khan Younis in early April, allowing Palestinian recovery teams to begin searching through the destruction.

It is unclear when the people buried in the graves died, but photos provided by Civil Defense show bodies in different states of decomposition, suggesting that burials took place at different times. An NBC News camera crew filmed families burying loved ones on the grounds of Nasser Hospital as far back as late January.

Palestinian authorities say the Israeli military exhumed existing graves at Nasser Hospital and dug new ones, adding that some of the bodies found in the newer graves were buried in black or blue nylon bags used by the IDF, rather than the customary white bags and shrouds used in Gaza. Palestinian families returning to the site say they are struggling to find their loved ones’ remains.

In a news conference at Nasser Hospital on Thursday attended by NBC News’ crew, Al-Mughair said the bodies found with bound hands and bullet wounds indicate “field executions” carried out at the hospital, which he attributed to the IDF.

He further detailed findings from their preliminary assessment of the corpses, including finding cannulas, the tubes inserted into the veins of hospital patients, saying it suggested they were patients killed by Israeli forces, because in Gaza, medical implements are removed before burial.

He also noted that they identified the body of a girl, Hala Fares, who had two amputated legs. Her family said she had been alive prior to the IDF’s raid on Nasser Hospital. Her body and those of other children, Al-Mughair said, raised questions about why there were so many in the graves, and suggested that Israeli forces were “committing crimes against children.”

Al-Mughair listed several other suspicions of mistreatment but noted that the forensic laboratories in Gaza have been destroyed, preventing more detailed analysis. He called for “an international specialist in forensic medicine to conduct the necessary examinations on the bodies.”

NBC News reached out to the Israel Defense Forces on Thursday and Friday seeking comment on the specific allegations made by Gaza’s Civil Defense that have been included in this article. It responded first by highlighting a tweet from IDF spokesperson Nadav Shoshani that doesn’t directly address the allegation that the IDF carried out field executions on the grounds of Nasser hospital, but said that “any attempt to blame Israel for burying civilians in mass graves is categorically false and a mere example of a disinformation campaign aimed at delegitimizing Israel.” On Saturday, the IDF repeated the response it issued on Thursday.