White House seeks 'answers' from Israel on Gaza mass graves

A girl looks at the rubble of a building destroyed in overnight Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on 25 April, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group HamasAFP

The White House said Wednesday it wanted "answers" from Israeli authorities after the discovery of mass graves at two Gaza hospitals destroyed in Israeli sieges.

Gaza's Civil Defense agency said the day prior that health workers uncovered nearly 340 bodies of people allegedly killed and buried by Israeli forces at the Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis.

Around 30 bodies were reported found buried in two graves in the Al-Shifa hospital courtyard in Gaza City.

"We want answers," National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters. "We want to see this thoroughly and transparently investigated."

The discoveries prompted the United Nations to demand an independent probe into the situation, backed by the European Union.

Israeli army spokesman Major Nadav Shoshani said the grave at Nasser "was dug -- by Gazans -- a few months ago."

The Israeli army did acknowledge that "corpses buried by Palestinians" had been examined by soldiers searching for hostages, but did not directly address allegations that Israeli troops were behind the killings.

Hospitals, which have protection under international law, have repeatedly come under Israeli bombardment over more than six months of war in Gaza.

Israel has accused Palestinian militant group Hamas of using medical facilities as command centers and to hold hostages abducted during its attack on Israel on October 7 which set off the war. Hamas has denied the claims.

The 7 October attack resulted in the deaths of around 1,170 people in Israel, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

In retaliation, Israel launched a military offensive that has killed at least 34,262 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.