As violence escalates in the Gaza Strip, health officials are grappling with a heartbreaking and logistical challenge: a shortage of space to store the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli air strikes. This dire situation has forced them to repurpose ice cream freezer trucks as makeshift morgues, highlighting the severity of the humanitarian crisis in the region.
The recent escalation of violence began when Israel unleashed one of its most intense bombardments on the Gaza Strip in response to a deadly attack carried out by the Palestinian group Hamas. This attack on Israel was the deadliest the nation had experienced in decades.
Dr. Yasser Ali, a physician at the Shuhada Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir Al-Balah, shed light on the grim situation, saying, “The hospital morgue can only take 10 bodies, so we have brought in ice cream freezers from the ice cream factories in order to store the huge numbers of martyrs.”
The freezer trucks, adorned with advertising images of smiling children enjoying ice cream cones, are typically used to make deliveries to supermarkets. Now, they serve as temporary morgues for the victims of the devastating conflict between Hamas and the Israeli army.
The Israeli military announced its intention to allow Gazans to evacuate to the south in anticipation of an expected ground assault as a response to the attacks carried out by Hamas gunmen eight days ago, which resulted in the death of 1,300 people in Israel.
On the other side, authorities in Gaza reported that Israeli air strikes have claimed the lives of more than 2,300 people, with approximately a quarter of them being children, and nearly 10,000 others have been wounded. Hospitals are overwhelmed, struggling with shortages of essential supplies and a growing number of wounded individuals.
Israel has pledged to eradicate Hamas after its fighters rampaged through Israeli towns on October 7, committing heinous acts of violence against men, women, and children while taking hostages. Consequently, the death toll in Gaza is expected to rise significantly.
Dr. Yasser Ali expressed the immense strain on the healthcare infrastructure, even with the use of ice cream freezers. “Even with these freezers, the number (of the dead) exceeds the capacity of this main morgue of the hospital, and alternative ones, and between 20 and 30 bodies are being kept in tents too,” he explained as he opened the doors of the freezers to reveal the white-shrouded bodies inside.
The crisis in Gaza is further exacerbated by the depletion of cemetery space, with Ali noting, “The Gaza Strip is in crisis, and if the war continues in this way, we will not be able to bury the dead. The cemeteries are already full, and we need new ones to bury the dead.”
In Gaza City, authorities have taken steps to prepare mass graves to accommodate the overwhelming number of deceased individuals, according to Salama Marouf, the head of the Government Media Office. “In light of the large number of martyrs inside the morgues of Al-Shifa Hospital, whose relatives did not arrive to bury them, signs of change began to appear on the bodies,” he shared. “And in light of the continued arrival of martyrs in their dozens as a result of the occupation’s massacres, a mass grave has been prepared to bury approximately 100 martyrs in the emergency cemetery.”
This grim situation is a stark reminder of the human toll that conflicts exact on innocent lives and underscores the urgent need for humanitarian aid and a peaceful resolution in the region.
Sources By Agencies