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Dozens of bodies found under hospital in Gaza raided by Israel

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'Mass grave': Dozens of bodies found under hospital in Gaza raided by Israel

War between Israel and Gaza has been going on since October 7 (File)

Gaza’s civil defense said on Sunday that dozens of bodies were found buried in a hospital complex previously raided by Israel, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to increase military pressure on Hamas.

Netanyahu, who threatened action “in the coming days” without elaborating, has repeatedly said Israel will launch a ground attack on Rafah despite international concerns about civilians who have taken refuge in the southern city Gaza.

The prime minister’s latest comments came a day after US lawmakers approved $13 billion in new military aid to close ally Israel, even as global criticism mounts over the dire humanitarian crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian group Hamas, whose October 7 attack sparked the war in Gaza, called the US aid a “green light” for Israel to “continue the brutal aggression against our people.”

Gaza’s Civil Protection Organization said its teams have discovered 50 bodies since Saturday buried in the courtyard of the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Yunis, Gaza’s main southern city.

“We are waiting for all the graves to be exhumed to provide a final number of martyrs,” Mahmud Bassal, spokesman for the civil protection organization, told AFP.

“Some of the bodies were not wearing any clothes, which certainly indicates that the victims suffered torture and ill-treatment,” Bassal said.

The Israeli military said it was checking the reports.

Hamas said in a statement that the 50 bodies had been exhumed from what it called a “mass grave” in the hospital courtyard.

Israel withdrew its ground forces from Khan Yunis on April 7 after carrying out what it called a “precise and limited operation” at the hospital, one of Gaza’s largest.

Hospitals in Gaza have been hit hard by the Israeli attack, with the army accusing Hamas of using them as command centers and to hold hostages kidnapped on October 7, claims denied by Hamas.

On Sunday, an AFP photographer saw civil defense crews digging up human remains in the courtyard as grieving relatives collected bodies wrapped in white.

Resident Umm Mohammed al-Harazeen came to the hospital hoping for news about her husband.

He has been missing since Israeli forces entered Khan Yunis, she said, “and we have searched for him but to no avail.”

– ‘Wake up to a nightmare’ –

Netanyahu said in a video statement on the eve of the Jewish holiday Passover that Israel will “deal additional and painful blows” to Hamas.

“In the coming days we will increase military and political pressure on Hamas because this is the only way to free our hostages,” he said.

Israel estimates that 129 prisoners remain in Gaza after the October 7 Hamas attack, including 34 who the army says are dead.

The army has said at least some of the hostages are being held in Rafah, which has so far been spared an Israeli invasion and where most of Gaza’s 2.4 million residents have sought shelter.

Israeli military spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a televised statement that “the chief of staff has approved the next steps for the war,” without giving details.

“On Passover, the hostages will be held captive for 200 days… We will fight until you return home,” he said.

Earlier this week, the G7 group of developed economies said it opposed a “major military operation” in Rafah, fearing “catastrophic consequences” for civilians.

Israeli forces have already regularly carried out air strikes on the city.

The civil protection agency said Israeli strikes hit two houses in Rafah overnight, killing at least 16 people, mostly children.

Resident Umm Hassan Kloub, 35, said her children screamed when they “woke up to a nightmare of an explosion.”

“Every second we live in fear, even the sound of Israeli planes does not stop,” she said.

The Hamas attack that sparked the war resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 34,097 people, mostly women and children, according to Israel’s Health Ministry.

– US strengthens Israeli defense –

Violence has also flared in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where a two-year wave of clashes has further escalated since the outbreak of the Gaza war.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said on Saturday that at least 14 people were killed during a 40-hour Israeli attack on the Nur Shams refugee camp in the northern West Bank.

On Sunday, two Palestinians were killed during an Israeli raid near Hebron and another at a checkpoint in the northern West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. The military said all three had tried to attack troops.

Meanwhile, Hamas’ military wing said its operatives in southern Lebanon had fired 20 rockets at a northern Israeli military base, the latest in cross-border firefights usually involving Hamas ally Hezbollah.

The Israeli army announced on Sunday the death of a soldier who was injured in a Hezbollah attack on Wednesday near the Lebanese border.

Much of the new military aid approved by the US House of Representatives on Saturday was expected to be used to strengthen Israel’s air defenses.

It comes after almost all of the hundreds of missiles and drones that Iran launched into the country a week ago were intercepted with the help of Israeli allies, according to the Israeli military.

Iran’s first-ever direct attack on Israel was itself a retaliation for a deadly April 1 attack on the consular building of Tehran’s embassy in Damascus.

Israel’s response appeared to come on Friday when explosions were reported in Iran’s central province of Isfahan, although fears of a wider war eased after Iran appeared to play down the situation.

Israeli officials have made no public comment, while Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Tehran would not respond unless there was another Israeli attack.

On Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised the “success in recent events” of his country’s armed forces in his first comments since the drone and missile attack on Israel.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)