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Satellite images and video show at least 16 Gaza cemeteries desecrated by Israeli forces

Palestinians examine damaged graves at a cemetery after an Israeli attack in Khan Yunis, Gaza, on January 17. (Credit: Ahmed Zakot/Reuters)

A CNN investigation has revealed that Israeli forces desecrated at least 16 cemeteries in their ground offensive in Gaza, breaking headstones, disturbing the soil and, in some cases, uncovering bodies.

In Khan Yunis, southern Gaza, where fighting has intensified in recent days, Israeli forces destroyed a cemetery, removing bodies, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) told CNN during a terrorist attack by Hamas. It was part of a search for the remains of hostages kidnapped by the US. Attacks of October 7, 2023.

CNN examined satellite images and social media images showing the destruction of cemeteries, and witnessed it firsthand while traveling with the IDF in a convoy. Overall, the evidence reveals a systemic practice.

The deliberate destruction of religious sites, such as cemeteries, is a violation of international law, except in very limited circumstances involving the site becoming a military objective. Legal experts told CNN that Israel’s actions may constitute war crimes.

An IDF spokesperson could not explain the destruction of the 16 cemeteries for which CNN provided coordinates, but said that sometimes the army has “no choice” but to attack cemeteries, claiming that Hamas uses for military purposes.

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