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Monday, July 22, 2024

Second Israeli airstrike hits Gaza refugee camp

Attacks targeting the densely-populated Jabalia facility “could amount to war crimes,” the UN has warned

Israel killed another prominent Hamas figure on Wednesday in the second airstrike in two days targeting the densely-populated Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, the largest in the territory, according to the country’s military.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that a fighter jet bombed a Hamas complex in the camp “based on precise intelligence,” killing the Palestinian militant group’s main anti-tank missile unit commander, Muhammad A’sar. The strike came hours after an initial attack, which Israel said killed Ibrahim Biari, who it claims was a key figure in organizing the October 7 attack on the Jewish state.

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“Hamas deliberately builds its terror infrastructure under, around, and within civilian buildings, intentionally endangering Gazan civilians,” Israel said in a statement. Gazan authorities have not yet indicated casualty figures related to the latest strike, but Dr. Atef Al Kahlout, director of Gaza’s Indonesian hospital, told CNN that at least 80 people had died.

Palestinian health officials said that Tuesday’s bombing killed about 50 people and injured 150 more. Hamas has denied that any of its leaders were present at the Jabalia camp.

A witness told Reuters that Wednesday’s airstrike was a “massacre.” Rescue workers searched for survivors in rubble following the blast, which left a deep crater and destroyed buildings in the Falluja neighborhood of the camp, CNN said.

The airstrikes “could amount to war crimes,” the United Nations Human Rights Commission wrote on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday.

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“Given the high number of civilian casualties & the scale of destruction following Israeli airstrikes on Jabalia refugee camp,” the office wrote, “we have serious concerns that these are disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes.”

Israel’s bombardment of the besieged coastal enclave in retaliation for Hamas’ October 7 attack has so far claimed the lives of at least 9,000 people, the local health ministry has indicated. Women, children, and the elderly make up about 70% of those killed, it said on Monday.

The sustained and expanded assault on Gaza by Israel, and more recently, on the Jabalia camp in particular, has provoked condemnation from several countries and humanitarian figures. Jordan on Wednesday recalled its ambassador to Israel, following similar moves by Chile and Colombia. Bolivia has severed diplomatic ties with the state, claiming that Israel has engaged in “crimes against humanity.”

UN Under-Secretary-General Martin Griffiths on Wednesday called for both sides to respect international humanitarian law following a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territory. The director of the UN’s human rights office (OHCHR), Craig Mokhiber, issued his resignation on Tuesday over what he said was the organization’s “failure” to prevent a “text-book case of genocide” in Gaza.