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Mapping the destruction of cemeteries in Gaza

Imagery provided by Earth-imaging company Planet Labs shows two graveyards in Gaza that have recently been destroyed.
Mapping the destruction of cemeteries in Gaza
Posted at 7:41 PM, Jan 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-05 21:43:03-05

New satellite imagery provided by Earth-imaging company Planet Labs shows two graveyards in Gaza that have recently been destroyed. In some cases, Israel appears to be using other recently cleared cemeteries as bases to stage heavy vehicles.

Here's what we know.

One of these recently cleared cemeteries was new and started filling up as soon as the war began on Oct. 7.

In the satellite images, you can see both cemeteries.

One predated the most recent conflict, while the other was not filled until Israel started bombing the Gaza Strip. In imagery from Planet Labs from October, November and December, we can see it gradually being filled.

In video from October, we can see a mass grave being dug in the new cemetery. Using geolocation, Scripps News is able to confirm the video is from the same cemetery.

New satellite imagery from Jan. 4 shows the older cemetery has been completely wiped out. The new cemetery has also been partially destroyed.

SEE MORE: Israeli military suggests war with Hamas will last through 2024

Video shared Friday on social media showed the newer cemetery from the ground. Geolocation matches this video with the other.

You can see shrouded bodies and grave markers amongst the moved dirt.

Scripps News has analyzed these visuals and found military vehicle tracks in the razed cemeteries. And satellite images highlight a pattern for some of these cemeteries: Clearance efforts begin as IDF vehicles approach, and those vehicles enter the graveyards shortly after they're cleared.

Multiple cemeteries throughout Gaza have been either partially or fully destroyed as the IDF has cut a path through Gaza City and Khan Younis.

Israel has blamed Hamas for launching rockets from cemeteries in Gaza, including an incident in October that landed near the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital.

In December, a video shared on social media purported to show a rocket launch site buried in a Gaza graveyard. Still, it doesn't explain why large portions of cemeteries have been cleared by the IDF.

The IDF reportedly declined the New York Times' request for comment about multiple cemeteries' destruction.

Visual evidence shows the practice is continuing.

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