As Gaza death toll rises, bodies are stored in ice cream trucks

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Health officials in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip have resorted to storing the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli air strikes in ice cream freezer trucks because moving them to hospitals is too risky and cemeteries are short of space.

Israel has unleashed the fiercest bombardment on the Gaza Strip to hit back at the Palestinian militant group Hamas after it carried out the deadliest attack on Israel for decades.

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“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,” said Dr. Yasser Ali of the Shuhada Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir Al-Balah.

The freezer trucks, whose sides still show advertising images of smiling children enjoying ice cream cones, are normally used to make deliveries to supermarkets. Now they are makeshift morgues for victims of the devastating war between Hamas and the Israeli army.

The Israeli military said on Sunday it would still allow Gazans to evacuate south ahead of an expected ground assault in retaliation for the attacks by eight days ago by Hamas gunmen, who killed 1,300 people in Israel.

Authorities in Gaza said Israeli air strikes had killed more than 2,300 people, a quarter of them children, with nearly 10,000 wounded so far. Hospitals are running short of supplies and struggling to cope with growing numbers of wounded.

Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas after its fighters rampaged through Israeli towns on Oct. 7 shooting men, women and children and seizing hostages. That means the Gaza death toll will rise sharply.

“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,” said Ali, as he opened the doors of the freezers to show the white-shrouded bodies inside.

“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,” Ali said.

In Gaza City too, authorities were preparing mass graves, said the head of the Government Media Office, Salama Marouf.

“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 said.

“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.”

Read more:

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Israel urges Gazans south, as airstrikes continue ahead of ground assault

Israel families demand urgent help to get medicines to Gaza hostages

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