Gaza: 13,000 Palestinians missing in six-month Israeli assault on enclave

Gaza: 13,000 Palestinians missing in six-month Israeli assault on enclave
While more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's assault on Gaza, another 13,000 remain missing, though the number could be higher.
2 min read
12 April, 2024
Israel's assault on Gaza has been described as a genocide by Palestinians [Getty]

Over 13,000 Palestinians are believed to be missing in Israel's war on Gaza, a rights group has said, in addition to the more than 35,000 killed in the six-month assault.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor made an urgent appeal for a mechanism to investigate the thousands of Palestinians who have gone missing in Gaza since 7 October, with most of the enclave in ruins and stretched civil rescue teams struggling to account for the disappeared.

The monitor fears that thousands could also be trapped under the rubble of Gaza's levelled buildings, forcibly disappeared, executed, or buried in unmarked mass graves.

Israel's assault, which has included thousands of airstrikes, has killed at least 33,545 Palestinians and left 76,094 injured.

"Decisive international pressure on Israel is necessary to facilitate the labour of the individuals and crews working to remove this rubble, including civil defense crews," the group said in a statement.

"Pressure must also be put on Israel to release information on the fate of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners and detainees from the Gaza Strip who are being held by Israeli army forces, plus those who have been victims of murder, unlawful execution, and enforced disappearance in Israeli prisons and detention centres."

Israel has rounded up thousands of civilians in Gaza and accused them of being members of Hamas, including medics, journalists, and other members of the public.

The detainees are held in camps and prisons where horrific torture and mistreatment are said to be rife, leading to deaths of prisoners and the amputation of limbs due to injuries.

Rights groups and other independent monitors have been denied access to the prisoners, which is a breach of basic universal human rights, and are unable to account for the missing.

This has left countless Palestinians in Gaza unsure whether their loved ones are detained or dead.

"The circumstances surrounding the deaths of these prisoners and detainees have not yet been made public by the Israeli army, nor have any independent investigators been able to confirm or determine the details of their deaths," said the monitor.

Live Story

A devastating Israeli siege has also deprived Gaza of essential machinery or specialists that civil rescue teams need to excavate the rubble of bombed-out buildings to retrieve bodies or the injured.

"These victims’ bodies have not been exhumed, their identities have not been established, and their remains have not been repatriated, nor have their relatives been informed," Euro-Med added.

The monitor only counted those reported as disappeared, and due to the ongoing assault and mass displacement of people, admitted the real figure of missing is likely to be even higher.