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Deputy Prime Minister urged to condemn reports of ‘mass graves’ at Gaza hospital sites

24 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Casuakties at the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza. Photo Palestinian News & Information Agency (Wafa) in contract with APAimages, CC BY-SA 3.0

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has been urged to condemn reports of mass graves at bombed hospital sites in Gaza as war crimes.

Reports have suggested mass burial sites have been discovered at the sites of the Nasser and al-Shifa hospitals in the Palestinian territory, both of which came under fire during the Israeli Defence Forces operations in the area.

Israel has denied responsibility for the burials, which local officials have claimed number several hundred people.

In the House of Commons, Mhairi Black, the SNP’s deputy Westminster leader, said: “Two years ago when mass graves were discovered in Ukraine, this House united in condemnation and rightly treated these graves as evidence of war crimes, which Russia must be made to answer for.

“Yesterday, Palestinian officials uncovered two mass graves outside the bombed hospitals in Gaza. These graves also constitute as war crimes, don’t they?”


Deputy Prime Minister Mr Dowden replied: “Well of course we would expect the democratic government of Israel to investigate any allegations of misconduct and that is exactly what they do, and it is exactly what the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister urge them to do.

“But I find it quite extraordinary that she seeks to draw parallels between the legitimate war of self defence of Israel and the conduct of Russia.”

Ms Black continued, telling MPs: “300 bodies, including the elderly and the injured, some of which had been stripped naked, mutilated, with their hands tied behind their backs.

“The UK’s own arms policy states that if there is even a risk that war crimes may be taking place, then that is reason enough to halt the sale of arms.

“Given all we know, why then is the Prime Minister yet to do so?”


Mr Dowden replied: “We continue to urge the Israeli government to investigate any allegations of misconduct. The difference though is that we can trust the Israeli government, a democratically elected government, to properly investigate those things.

“Of course we keep the advice under review. The Foreign Secretary has recently made it clear that he has conducted a determination and has not changed his advice regarding export licences and I think that is the correct decision.”

Ministers have faced pressure to halt arms sales from the UK to Israel in recent weeks, amid concerns about humanitarian law breaches by the Middle Eastern nation.

But Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron has insisted the UK position on export licences has not changed.

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