Death on display as Gaza mourns its dead
We in the west tend to hide the fact of death. In Gaza it is all on display.
So, from early in the morning the men will gather at the low, whitewashed building which is the mortuary at Shifa Hospital.
Inside, a room with a stainless steel table and overhead surgical lamps is where post-mortems take place for any unusual causes of death. They are looking for possible use of phosphorous, depleted uranium munitions and the like.
The table slopes to a sinkhole to drain away the human fluid. In this echoing place people become the statistics of war.
(Funeral procession for 12 killed in Gaza City. Credit: Alex Thomson)
Next door, wrapped in sheets or the green flag of Hamas, refrigerated bodies, heads uncovered, are pulled from the fridges for the relatives to see.
This morning, hundreds crowd the entrance, the steps, car park and even the roof.
Guttural shouts of men crying with grief yet screaming “Allahu Akbar” – God is great – mark another wrapped body borne aloft to a waiting truck or car. There are no coffins.
(Diggers at Jamal Dalou’s house where at least nine people were killed yesterday in Israeli airstrike. Credit: Alex Thomson)
This morning, some of the bodies were the small children of the Dalou family.
They are carried aloft on shoulder from the mortuary to waiting cars – men, women and children.
Across town the giant diggers have paused. They say there is still another 17-year-old in the rubble. The bodies of the four children are carried high into a house opposite. People kiss their exposed heads.
(Abdullah Dalou believed to be only survivor, overcome by grief, walking to funeral. Credit: Alex Thomson)
Outside the mosque they pray in the street in their hundreds. Abdullah Dalou who survived the airstrike is supported by friends, unable to stand in his grief.
Even at the graveside, the violence continues. Smoke off an incoming shell rises a few hundred yards from the cemetery wall. Presently, another salvo of rockets from Gaza roars overhead, leaving vapour trails pointing north, to Israel.
(Praying in street outside full mosque at funeral for Dalou family. Credit: Alex Thomson)
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