Umm Mohammed Abu Sada uses her headscarf to block the stench of bodies, some of which have been lying outside for days. Excluded from Israel’s humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, this city in southern Gaza has suffered under continued Israeli shelling and air strikes.
“The smell of bodies knocks people down – it is horrible to see human bodies thrown on to the streets like that,” Abu Sada told Al Jazeera. “The missiles are hitting everyone…there is nowhere for us to seek shelter.”
Corpses of dead Palestinians have overwhelmed morgues at Rafah’s hospitals, and relatives have been left with no option but to keep their loved-ones in commercial refrigerators. At the city’s Kuwaiti hospital, a stream of ambulances negotiated its way through crowds of medical staff and families, delivering bodies to be laid out on the gravel outside the building.
Many of the dead have no one to bury them except distant relatives, as Israeli air strikes on Rafah have killed several members of the same families.
On Saturday, four members of Mohammed Ayyad Abu Taha’s family were killed when Israel struck their home, including two children and one woman, while an Israeli air strike on the Al Ghoul family’s home in Rafah killed eight family members on Sunday, including two women, and three children – aged one month, three years and 13-years-old – according to UN figures.
Relatives crowded around the bodies at Kuwaiti hospital, stroking their fingers across the blood-stained faces of six-year-old Malak and 13-year-old Ismail. Doctors had no space in the hospital’s morgue for the family, so those small enough to fit were placed in ice-cream freezers.
Ibrahim Abu Moammar, of the National Society for Democracy and Law in Rafah, told Al Jazeera that not allowing Palestinians to bury their dead was a form of humiliation. “Keeping the bodies in ice cream and vegetable refrigerators is a violation of the most basic human rights,” Abu Moammar said. Al Jazeera