More than 13,000 people are missing in Gaza as bodies pile up beneath the rubble
04/14/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor reports that more than 13,000 Palestinians have gone missing since Israeli forces entered the Gaza Strip last October.

Some of the people who are unaccounted for are believed to be trapped beneath the rubble of the many buildings that Israeli airstrikes have destroyed. There are also numerous unmarked mass graves in the enclave filling up with bodies.

However, it is challenging to determine the real number of missing people as Israeli forces continue to attack Gaza. Although some people may have turned up after their loved ones filed reports, many more go missing each day, and countless Palestinians are unable to file reports amid the ongoing turmoil. The International Committee of the Red Cross, for example, has recorded more than 7,000 missing person cases since the conflict broke out in Gaza.

Euro-Med is calling for “urgent international action to provide specialized teams and equipment to remove the rubble of homes and buildings bombed by Israeli army forces, rescue people trapped under its rubble who may still be alive, and recover thousands of bodies of others who died underneath since the start of the military attack on October 7.”

Some of the missing people in Gaza have likely been detained by Israeli forces, giving their loved ones some hope that they could still be alive. A lawyer for the NGO Adammeer said they believe there could be 1,000 people imprisoned without being charged or their families being notified.

More than 33,000 have been killed so far in Gaza, many of whom were women and children. However, widespread airstrikes and artillery bombardments have left full blocks of apartments flattened, burying people in the process whose deaths are therefore unrecorded. In some cases, people have no choice but to place the bodies of strangers in makeshift graves without any way of identifying them and informing their families.

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Numerous families have been separated

One man told The Guardian how he got separated from his wife and 2-year-old daughter in January. 36-year-old Raji Kamal Kaleel explained: “When the bombardment intensified on our neighbourhood, we decided to flee to a UN shelter, but on the way there was a big airstrike, and the whole area was filled with black smoke. We couldn’t see each other so all of us ran in different directions.”

Although he managed to find his older son, daughter, and mother, he hasn’t seen his wife and toddler since then.

“I lost my closest friend and the mother of my children. Nothing will ever compare. My life can’t continue without her. And I also lost my little daughter, a part of my heart. People tell me their bodies were vaporised or buried under the ruins, but I still have hope,” he added.

The forcible displacement of Palestinians by Israeli forces has separated numerous families. The situation has been especially unfavorable for the elderly and those with disabilities; some people fear that loved ones with poor vision or hearing may have been unable to get out of harm’s way or even killed by Israeli forces for failing to follow commands.

Following the withdrawal of Israeli troops last weekend from parts of the Strip, some displaced families went back to their homes in places like Khan Yunis, only to discover that their houses have been decimated. There are reports of dozens of bodies trapped beneath the rubble, and some are concerned that there could be people who are still alive and need to be rescued.

On April 9, hundreds of bodies were recovered near Al-Shifa Medical Complex following a relentless two-week attack that left much of the hospital's facilities destroyed. Many of them were decomposed, which will make identifying all of them nearly impossible and could cause diseases to spread.

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