In Israeli strike targeting a Hamas commander in the densely populated Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza has left catastrophic damage and killed a large number of people, according to eyewitnesses and medics in the enclave.
“I was waiting in line to buy bread when suddenly and without any prior warning seven to eight missiles fell,” an eyewitness, Mohammad Ibrahim, told CNN.
“There were seven to eight huge holes in the ground, full of killed people, body parts all over the place,” he said. “It felt like the end of the world.”
According to a statement by the Israel Defense Forces, the airstrike targeted and killed Ibrahim Biari, whom it described as one of the Hamas commanders responsible for the October 7 attack on Israel, which left than 1,400 people dead and hundreds taken hostage.
The IDF also said “numerous other Hamas terrorists” were hit in the strike, and claimed the Central Jabalya Battalion had taken control of civilian buildings.
Hamas however has strongly denied the presence of one of its leaders in camp. Hazem Qassem, a spokesman for the militant group, accused Israel of attempting to justify what he described as a “heinous crime against safe civilians, children, and women in Jabalya camp.”
Eyewitness Mohammad Al Aswad described a “horrific scene” in the aftermath of the strike, telling CNN that he ran to the refugee camp to check on family after hearing the missiles land.
The IDF’s defense of the bombing is…not persuasive:
.@wolfblitzer: "You know that there are a lot of refugees, innocent civilians, men, women, children in that camp as well, right?"
IDF spokeperson Hecht: "This is the tragedy of war, wolf. We've been saying for days, move south." https://t.co/u8IpOjdRi6— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) October 31, 2023
Mass killings of civilians do not become justifiable just because you have advised potential targets with few to no resources to move to an unspecified different location in a small, densely populated territory with closed borders. And even assuming arguendo that a Hamas commander was present at the location, this does not justify anything like this scale of civilian casualties.