Tuesday February 27, 2024

Palestinians dig with bare hands to retrieve bodies amid lack of equipment

Published : 03 Dec 2023, 21:06

  DF News Desk
Palestinian workers establish a mass grave for the victims inside and north of Gaza City, in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, on Nov. 22, 2023. File Photo: Xinhua by Rizek Abdeljawad.

Om Mohammed Jouda, a 55-year-old Palestinian woman living in Gaza City, is busy digging with bare hands in the debris of a multi-floor house destroyed during the Israel-Hamas conflict in an attempt to recover the bodies of her relatives who have been buried under the rubble for many days, reported Xinhua.

However, not much progress has been made so far due to a lack of tools.

"About 50 people are under the rubble, and no one came here to help us," said Jouda, a mother of four, noting that the buried ones were in the residence when an Israeli attack hit the place without any alarm.

"The bodies may rot, and we must dig them out and bury them as soon as possible," she added.

The same happened to Mohammed Abu Ishaq, who has been busy digging the rubble for days in the al-Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, in the hope that he could retrieve the bodies of his 15 cousins buried under the debris after an Israeli bombardment, which came shortly before the humanitarian truce entered into force on Nov. 24, destroyed their house.

Since the Palestinian civil defense service did not have enough equipment, the 39-year-old father of seven, together with dozens of his family members, decided to recover the bodies of his relatives with their bare hands.

"We cannot blame local authorities," he said. "Israel committed deadly assaults against us and no one can deal with its consequences."

Since the Israel-Hamas conflict broke out on Oct. 7, Israel has attacked the war-torn enclave with approximately 100,000 bombs and rockets, said the Hamas-run government on Saturday.

"About 6,500 people are missing under the rubble and their fate is still unknown, including children and women," said the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

According to Mahmoud Basal, spokesperson of the Palestinian civil defense service, Gaza's primary search-and-rescue force faces severe difficulties in recovering the bodies from under the rubble of residential buildings due to the lack of equipment and machinery. The Israeli army has targeted all the vehicles in Gaza City, leaving only one excavator that can work.

Moreover, the civil defense service has had more than two dozen workers killed and over 100 injured since the conflict began, and the crew is now working to its utmost, Basal said, calling for assistance from the international community.

The United Nations and other international organizations have warned that the prolonged accumulation and decomposition of corpses threatens to cause serious health disasters and environmental pollution in the Strip.

According to official Palestinian statistics, the number of housing units that were subjected to complete destruction as a result of the Israeli attack amounted to approximately 51,000 units, in addition to 250,000 housing units that were subject to partial destruction.