Al Shifa is the largest hospital in Gaza. Now there are reports it's a mass grave.

Palestinian authorities reported finding bodies in mass graves at a hospital in Khan Younis this week after it was abandoned by Israeli troops.

United Nations rights chief Volker Turk is "horrified" by the destruction of the Nasser and Al Shifa medical facilities in Gaza and reports of mass graves containing hundreds of bodies there, a spokesman says.

Bodies were also reported at the Al Shifa site following an Israeli special forces operation.

"We feel the need to raise the alarm because clearly there have been multiple bodies discovered," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said.

"Some of them had their hands tied, which of course indicates serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and these need to be subjected to further investigations."

She said the UN human rights office was working to corroborate Palestinian officials' reports that 283 bodies were found at Nasser and 30 at Al Shifa.

According to those reports, the bodies were buried beneath piles of waste and included women and older people. 

Turk, addressing a UN briefing via Shamdasani, also decried Israeli strikes on Gaza in recent days, which he said had killed mostly women and children.

He also repeated a warning against a full-scale incursion on Rafah, saying this could lead to "further atrocity crimes".

The war, now in its seventh month, was triggered by a Hamas militant attack on Israel on October 7, killing 1200 and taking 253 hostages, by Israeli tallies.


Around half were released as part of a brief truce deal in late November, but 130 hostages are still unaccounted for. At least 34 are presumed dead.

Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas, which controls Gaza, in a military operation that has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza's health authorities. The war has displaced most of the 2.3 million population and laid much of the densely populated enclave to waste.

A Hamas delegation will visit Cairo for talks aimed at securing a ceasefire, a Hamas official said, as mediators stepped up efforts to reach a deal ahead of an expected Israeli assault on the southern city of Rafah.

The official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters on Sunday that the delegation will discuss a ceasefire proposal, as well as Israel's response.

Israel's foreign minister said on Saturday that a planned incursion into Rafah, where more than one million displaced Palestinians are sheltering, could be put off should a deal emerge to release the Israeli hostages.

Western countries, including Israel's closest ally the United States, have urged Israel to refrain from attacking the border city on concern over potential civilian casualties.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said on Sunday that Israel had agreed to listen to US concerns before it launches an invasion of Rafah.

Washington has said it could not support a Rafah operation without an appropriate and credible humanitarian plan.

With AAP. 

Feature image: Getty