Many relatives of those who have died have either fled the region or are too scared to conduct funeral services in the middle of the ongoing offensive by Israeli forces.

 

More than 70 bodies, recovered from various southern villages and brought to the Lebanese government hospital in Tyre, are still waiting to be laid to rest.

 

They include victims who died in air strikes on the southern village of Srifa, which has been repeatedly pounded by Israeli warplanes since uly 19.

 

At least 30 people have died in the village and more than 15 buildings levelled.

 

Qana massacre

 

When the town of Qana was struck by Israeli warplanes on 30 July, television audiences around the world watched relief workers removing corpses of civilians, including women and children, from the rubble.

 

But many of these bodies are still unburied after next of kin who fled the southern town to neighbouring cities like Sidon and Beirut were unable to access the roads which have been repeatedly hit by Israeli warplanes.

 

Many of the bodies in Qana have
still not been buried

Cut off from reaching Qana and other bombed-out villages, the families have been unable to conduct proper Islamic rites.

 

The number of unburied corpses has risen so dramatically in recent weeks that local religious leaders issued fatwas permitting corpses to be buried in temporary sites, often makeshift mass graves prepared by the Lebanese army.

 

Once the fighting dies down, the families will be allowed to transfer the corpses to their respective towns and conduct proper rites, including the traditional three days of funeral services.

 

"No dignity"

 

Qana survivor Samir Shalhoub, who lost several members of his family, explained that it was difficult to accept the temporary burial solution at first because relatives would be unable to properly pay their respects.

 

He told Aljazeera.net: "The fatwa allows us to move the bodies to their hometowns when the bombings stop and only then would we be able to hold a proper funeral that martyrs like them deserve to receive."

 

Temporary burials 'stripped the
dead of their dignity'

He said although the family accepted the temporary burials in Tyre, they felt it stripped the dead of dignity.

 

But he and many others may have to wait even longer.

 

As preparations were being finalised for a temporary burial on August 1, Israeli artillery opened fire on the Borj al-Shamali village adjacent to Tyre, wounding two youths.

 

Fearful that the armed Israeli drones hovering above Tyre signalled an imminent attack, a doctor at the hospital said the funeral had been cancelled because it was no longer safe.

 

In the days that followed, Tyre came under Israeli commando attack and nearby villages suffered heavy bombardment.

 

Mass graves unfilled

 

Five days later, the bodies remained unburied. With fatalities on the rise, medical authorities have resorted to using refrigerated trucks, usually used for storing vegetables and meat, to hold corpses as the morgue could not accommodate all them.

 

Dozens of light-brown wooden coffins are stacked up against the hospital walls waiting to be filled.

 

Bodies remain unburied in the
hospital morgue

There is a stench of death in and around the hospital. In the parking lot, where the refrigerated trucks are parked, the smell is so fetid that passers-by cover their mouths.

Although the temporary burial site lies just 100m away from the morgue, it is still highly dangerous to attempt a mass burial.

 

The last mass burial at this site was on July 29 when 33 people, including one-day-old Sawsan Taj al-Din, were buried there.

 

The infant had died in her mother's arms when an Israeli missile hit their car as they fled their home in Bazourieh, a village south of Tyre.

Three children belonging to the same family were put in one casket. Since then, the Lebanese army has dug two new mass graves. 

 

But for now, none of the dead will find rest there.