Tuesday, January 13, 2009

'Gaza is All a Graveyard'

Ynet News, January 13, 2009 - More than two weeks into a blistering Israeli offensive that Palestinian medical officials say has killed more than 970 Palestinians, Gazans are struggling to find places to bury their dead. One family buried their slain son with his grandfather. Another man was buried with his cousin. Cemeteries throughout Gaza City that were closed for burial have now reopened.

"Gaza is all a graveyard," said gravedigger Salman Omar, who said he has been busy since Israel's operation began.

The densely populated Gaza Strip, just 25 miles (40 kilometers) long by about 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide, has always suffered from a shortage of burial space. But Israel's shelling and deep ground incursion has made it impossible for residents to reach Martyrs Cemetery, the only open graveyard in eastern Gaza City, at a time when there's a rush of people needing burial.

'Bury them in the same grave.'

Israel's offensive is aimed at crushing Gaza's rulers, the militant group Hamas. But Palestinian medical officials believe roughly half of the dead, including the Samouni cousins, are civilians.

"We buried them quickly," said Iyad Samouni, 26, from al-Awda hospital in Gaza City, where he was being treated for shrapnel wounds. "We were afraid we'd be shelled. My relatives were trying to open other graves to prepare for the other dead but we didn't get time."

The children were killed in what the family and the UN says was an Israeli shelling attack on a house in eastern Gaza where soldiers had ordered them to stay to avoid nearby fighting.

Samouni said the family fled the graveyard after they came under fire from a warplane...

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