Gaza Among the many crises created by the fierce Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, the crisis of graves, shrouds and bags of the dead is highlighted by the large numbers of victims of intensive air raids, which affected everything on the ground, and residential houses, which were destroyed above the heads of their inhabitants, had the largest share of blood and destruction.

The local authorities in Gaza face great difficulties in keeping up with the daily numbers of martyrs and providing them with the necessary burials, from the "bags of the dead" used to extract victims from the rubble, to the coffins, to the graves in cemeteries that overflowed with the bodies of victims of the ongoing war for the third week in a row.

As usual, Gaza is always trying to find alternatives, so the "emergency cemetery" was the option to bury the martyrs in "mass graves" in an unusual digging method, according to the statement of the Director General of Waqf Properties at the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, Mazen Al-Najjar, to Al Jazeera Net.


According to the latest update of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, the Israeli occupation committed 550 massacres against families that killed 3353,1400 martyrs, and a large number of them are still under the rubble, and the ministry says that it "received 720,<> reports of missing persons, including <> children."

The spokesman for the Civil Defense Major Mahmoud Basal, in an interview with Al Jazeera Net, that the recovery of victims need human teams and material capabilities are not available to the device in Gaza, including "bags of the dead" used to recover victims from under the rubble, which has completely run out.

Basal appealed for aid to Gaza to include "pots, rams and cranes" (huge mechanisms used to remove rubble), as well as advanced devices to detect the living and victims under the rubble.

Morgue refrigerators in hospitals, the largest of which is Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, can no longer accommodate the momentary increase in the number of martyrs, which exceeded 4500,<>. Painful scenes of the bodies of martyrs lying in the corridors and courtyards of hospitals, and in tents erected in their yards that contained unidentified bodies.

The Director General of Hospitals, Dr. Munir Al-Barsh, in his speech to Al Jazeera Net, estimated the absorptive capacity of the mortuary refrigerators combined at the level of the Gaza Strip at about 400 bodies, including 50 bodies of Al-Shifa Hospital refrigerators, which bears the brunt of dealing with the victims of martyrs and wounded, and piles up inside the bodies of martyrs with an occupancy rate of 150%.

For the second time since the beginning of the aggression, local authorities buried on Saturday 43 unidentified martyrs in "mass graves" inside the "emergency cemetery", most of them are torn pieces, including a mother and her children who were buried in one shroud, and this was preceded last week by burying 63 martyrs in the same way, according to the Director General of the Endowment Properties.

Videos circulated on social media platforms showed the bodies of the martyrs being transported to the emergency cemetery in a car designated for transporting goods because there were not enough vehicles transporting the dead.

Mazen al-Najjar said that specialized committees composed of the relevant ministries in Gaza supervise the mass burials, and have obtained a fatwa and the authorization of jurists that take into account the magnitude of the disaster and the unprecedented increase in the number of martyrs, as a result of the "madness" of the occupation in committing "horrific crimes."

Emergency Cemetery

This war is the most violent and bloody of the five wars launched by the occupation on Gaza over 15 years, as well as an unlimited number of escalations, and the prefabricated graves prepared by the endowment properties to deal with times of emergency and wars were exhausted in the first hours of this war.

"As waqf properties that fall within our responsibility to manage cemeteries affairs, and inspired by the experiences of previous wars, we built an emergency cemetery in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City on an area of 13 dunums, which contained 500 to 700 spare graves at the time of the outbreak of the war," al-Najjar said.

What makes the reality worse is that Gaza City, the largest and most densely populated city in the Gaza Strip, suffers from a land crisis that can be converted into cemeteries, as there are 11 very old cemeteries, 9 of which have been completely closed and can no longer be buried because they are completely full, indicating that the Shujaiya cemetery, which is built on an area of 280 dunums, is about to be full (a dunum is equal to 1 square kilometer in Palestine).

Despite the decision to close some old cemeteries, including ancient cemeteries, al-Najjar said that "the families of martyrs were forced to be buried there because of the risks of reaching the cemeteries located near the Israeli security fence, in addition to the impossibility of reaching a cemetery built on an area of 50 dunums in the town of Beit Hanoun and adjacent to the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, containing 250 ready-made graves, in addition to the presence of 6 other cemeteries distributed among the cities of the North Governorate, which received a large part of the Israeli air strikes."

In the face of this difficult reality, the local authorities resorted to an alternative to the usual individual graves, which need spaces and equipment, by digging mass graves in the emergency cemetery in parallel lines and only one meter deep.

In it, the bodies are "stacked" next to each other, and the dirt is shed on them without placing retaining stones surrounding the inner sides of the graves, and without covering them from above with concrete cubes as in private individual graves, due to the cessation of factories from making stones and cubes due to power outages, running out of fuel, and the risks of work in light of the intensity of air raids.

Burial mechanism and lack of shrouds

Regarding the mechanism adopted by the specialized committees supervising the mass burial process, Al-Najjar explained that the well-known martyrs were identified by their names, while the unidentified were given numbers and their bodies were documented by photography, noting that many of the bodies are torn pieces and difficult to identify.

Burial in mass graves at the emergency cemetery is permanent, not temporary, he said, "and these graves will not be exhumed, and bodies will be exhumed and buried in private individual graves".

The cities of the Gaza Strip, which is home to 2.2 million people on an area of 360 kilometers, drain about 9 dunams of cemeteries annually, each dunam is enough for 220 to 240 graves, creating a severe crisis in providing sufficient areas of land and allocating them as cemeteries, according to al-Najjar.

"We are facing a special and unprecedented reality, and the level of crimes of the occupation has created many crises, affecting even the shrouds in hospitals, which suffer from a large deficit in providing shrouds that keep pace with the increasing number of martyrs," the same spokesman said.

It is noteworthy that the laundries of the dead are scattered in the hospitals of the Gaza Strip and supervise the process of preparing the bodies of the martyrs for burial by placing them in bags and shrouding them, writing the data of each martyr on the shroud, and handing them over to his family for burial if the martyr was known, and if he was unknown, his settlement is the emergency cemetery.