Geneva - The South African legal team and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) were provided with an initial memorandum from Euro-Med Monitor yesterday detailing the most prominent mass graves established in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s ongoing genocide, launched on 7 October.

Euro-Med Monitor has also provided South Africa’s legal team with other memoranda about Israel’s mass killings, targeting of the Gaza Strip’s health sector, and various outcomes of the genocidal war against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since South Africa submitted an application to institute proceedings against Israel on 29 December 2023. South Africa is charging Israel with genocide in the Strip, citing Israeli violations under the Genocide Convention.

The human rights organisation further submitted an additional memorandum documenting the Israeli army’s crimes since South Africa filed its lawsuit in the ICJ. According to the memorandum, the Israeli army has killed 2,124 Palestinians and injured 3,463 during the reported period of 29 December 2023 to 9 January 2024.

The Euro-Med Monitor memorandum on mass graves includes preliminary documentation of relevant dates, numbers, and information concerning the dozens of graves that have been established across the Gaza Strip over the past three months.

The memorandum includes details about the graves, which were constructed in order to bury dozens of unidentified dead. Previously, these corpses had accumulated for days in the courtyards of hospitals and at shelter centres and other mass graves that people resorted to creating due to their inability to access the Strip’s main cemeteries.

These mass graves include Al-Batash Cemetery, which was established on 22 October 2023, east of Gaza City,to bury dozens of unidentified dead individuals after their bodies accumulated inside Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Medical Complex for days. Another cemetery was established on 18 November 2023, next to the Indonesian Hospital, where approximately 200 corpseswere buried. During November and December, at least two random cemeteries were established in the Daraj neighbourhood of Gaza City, containing hundreds of bodies. On 22 November 2023, 111 dead bodies from Gaza City and the Strip’s northern areas were buried in a mass grave west of Khan Yunis; 83 of the dead bodies were seized from Al-Shifa Medical Complex, while others were brought over from Beit Hanoun Hospital.

The Euro-Med Monitor memorandum also documented the Israeli army’s attacks on 12 cemeteries in the Gaza Strip, including four newly established cemeteries, by deliberately bulldozing and desecrating hundreds of graves and stealing dozens of bodies from them as part of its genocidal war on the Gaza Strip.

According to the Geneva-based rights group, families in the Gaza Strip have resorted to creating more than 120 random mass graves in residential neighbourhoods, courtyards, roads, wedding halls, and stadiums. 

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor’s memorandum comes on the eve of the ICJ’s two public hearings, on Thursday 11 January and Friday 12 January, at the court’s headquarters in The Hague, regarding South Africa’s application to institute proceedings against Israel for its violations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

South Africa’s application contains a Request for the Indication of Provisional Measures, requiring the Court to make an initial ruling on the case, in order to “protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people under the Genocide Convention”, to ensure Israel’s compliance with its obligations under the Genocide Convention not to engage in genocide, as well asto prevent and to punish genocide.