Sun 26-May-2024

Euro-Med: 13,000 Palestinians Missing in Gaza

Thursday 11-April-2024

GENEVA, (PIC)

The Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights has called for urgent international action to deploy special mechanisms and specialized teams to remove the rubble of homes and buildings that were targeted by Israeli occupation forces in Gaza Strip, and to rescue the people trapped under the debris. They also urged the retrieval of thousands of bodies of those who have died since the Israeli military attack on Gaza began on October 7th.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Euro-Med Monitor called for decisive international pressure on Israel to ensure the safety of individuals and the working crews involved in the removal of debris, including civil defense teams. They also demanded the disclosure of the fate of thousands of missing Palestinian prisoners and detainees from the Gaza Strip who are being held by the Israeli army, including those who have been subjected to enforced disappearances, unlawful killings, and extrajudicial executions in Israeli prisons and detention centers.

The Euro-Med Monitor said that their estimates indicate that there are more than 13,000 Palestinians missing under the rubble, buried in mass graves, or forcibly hidden in Israeli prisons and detention centers, with some of them having been killed inside these facilities. The Israeli army has not yet released any information regarding the circumstances of the killing of these prisoners and detainees, and no independent body has been able to verify or determine the conditions of their deaths. Their remains have not been retrieved, their identities have not been established, and their families have not been informed.

The Monitor warned that this estimate is based on the initial reports of missing persons, and it is difficult to accurately determine the actual numbers of the missing at this stage due to the ongoing Israeli military attacks and the siege imposed on many areas where the Israeli army is conducting its military operations, particularly on the ground.

It pointed to the practices of the occupation army aimed at dispersing Palestinian families, especially through forcing families to repeatedly evacuate without securing safe passages, separating family members and forcing them to displace to different areas, or arresting some of them and then forcibly concealing them, leading to a disruption of communication between families, particularly in light of the weakness or interruption of communications and the internet.

The Euro-Med mentioned that its field teams accompanied the work of civil defense crews and rescue teams, which recovered the bodies of 422 Palestinians from the Shifa Medical Complex and its surroundings in the western part of Gaza City and from Khan Yunis, using primitive resources, after the Israeli army withdrew from both areas in the past few days. It indicated that family members of the victims are participating in the search for their loved ones and their recovery, sometimes transferring them to local hospitals or burying them near those houses or in mass graves.

Euro-Med Monitor warned that the majority of the recovered bodies had decomposed due to the length of time, and some of them showed signs of being mauled by cats and dogs, as Israeli forces hindered their recovery over the past months, violating the dignity of the victims and their right, as well as the right of their families, to bury them with respect and in a dignified manner, in accordance with their religious rituals, in individual graves, respecting these graves and marking them in a way that allows constant identification.

The Monitor indicated that the majority of the recovered bodies were either found in the streets or in simple one-story buildings, while there were significant difficulties in retrieving the bodies of the deceased from multi-story buildings.

It was explained that civil defense teams use regular bulldozers, manual hammers, and primitive devices in the process of searching for bodies under thousands of tons of rubble caused by Israeli airstrikes. As a result, the work takes long hours without significant progress, especially in light of the electricity cuts and fuel shortages, which impede the effectiveness and continuity of the work. It was emphasized that there is a need to introduce excavators, special equipment, and sufficient quantities of fuel to remove the rubble, search for bodies, identify their owners, and bury them in designated graves.

The Euro-Med Monitor emphasized the need for a swift action to retrieve the bodies, warning that their continued presence in the current state threatens the spread of further epidemics and will have very serious consequences on public health and the environment, issues that have been evident for several months.

It was stated that the genocide being perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza Strip since October 7th of last year has not spared the victims even after their death, amidst deplorable international complicity.

According to the Euro-Med Monitor, the missing individuals in Gaza are divided into four categories:

Firstly, martyrs who died under the rubble of houses or buildings they were inside, or in the streets and agricultural lands. This includes areas witnessing Israeli incursions or those killed by Israeli forces and buried near the eastern and northern border fence, where Israeli forces have established execution areas that kill anyone attempting to approach them.

Secondly, martyrs buried in individual or mass makeshift graves. Their conditions vary between those whose families or acquaintances buried them, and those whose bodies were buried by health authorities or found by citizens.

Thirdly, individuals whose fate is unknown after losing contact with them either due to Israeli incursions or after being arrested by those forces. Their fate remains unknown due to Israel’s policy of enforced disappearance against Palestinian prisoners and detainees from Gaza. There is information indicating that a large number of them have been subjected to arbitrary execution and killing as a result of torture, without revealing the identity of these victims.

Fourthly, martyrs recovered by the Israeli army from mass graves in hospitals and the areas they penetrated. Dozens of them have been handed over, and it is believed that dozens more are still held captive.

The Euro-Med Monitor reiterated that it had documented the establishment of more than 120 random mass graves in the governorates of Gaza, where martyrs of military attacks were buried. This is due to the difficulty of accessing main and organized cemeteries and the continuous Israeli targeting of graves and their surroundings.

It emphasized that the continued status of thousands of Palestinians as missing constitutes an additional crime against their families who suffer from severe psychological torment.

The Euro-Med Monitor said that this would leave a deep impact on thousands of Palestinian families in Gaza, inflicting significant spiritual and psychological harm upon them. This represents another aspect of the genocide committed by Israel against Palestinians in Gaza.

The Monitor renewed its call to the international community to fulfill its international legal obligations to stop the genocide committed by Israel against the population of Gaza since October 7th of last year. It urged the activation of real pressure tools to compel Israel to immediately cease its genocide and all its crimes, and to pressurize Israel to comply with the rules of international law and the decision of the International Court of Justice to protect Palestinian civilians from the threat of genocide in Gaza.

The Euro-Med Monitor also reiterated its call for the International Committee of the Red Cross to fulfill its responsibilities, verify the conditions of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons, ensure the conditions of their detention, search for the missing, and contribute to revealing the fate of these individuals.

The Euro-Med emphasized the necessity for the Red Cross to adopt public positions and issue statements every time Israel refuses to allow it to carry out its mandated tasks, foremost among which is visiting Palestinian prisoners and detainees.

The Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights reaffirmed the obligation to compel Israel to adhere to the rules of international law, which stipulate the respect for the bodies of the deceased, their non-deprivation, and protection during armed conflicts. It also stressed the need for parties to the conflict to take all possible measures to prevent the desecration of the dead, preserve their dignity, and protect their bodies.

Short link:

Copied