Israel hit Gaza’s largest refugee camp with renewed air strikes Wednesday, prompting UN rights officials to warn that targeting densely populated residential areas “could amount to war crimes.”
Bombs struck the Jabalia camp for a second time in two days, pulverising buildings and, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, killing dozens of people.
AFP witnessed extensive damage at the scene, with people frantically clawing through rubble to extract bloodied casualties.
Israel said its fighter jets had carried out the strike, targeting “a Hamas command and control complex” and “eliminating” an undefined number of militants.
Rescuers said “whole families” had died, but casualty details could not be immediately confirmed.
Israel has hit 11,000-plus targets in Gaza since October 7, when Hamas gunmen stormed into Israel and killed 1,400 people, including many civilians who were shot in cold blood.
Many nations backed Israel’s right to strike back at Hamas, but as the civilian toll has mounted, so too has criticism of Israeli tactics
According to Gaza’s health ministry, 8,796 Gazans have been killed so far, mostly women and children. Whole neighbourhoods in Gaza have been levelled.
Israeli forces had already struck the Jabalia camp on Tuesday, killing at least 47 people, according to an AFP count.
The United Nations decried Israel’s most recent bombings, joining a chorus of international condemnation from as far afield as Bolivia, which severed diplomatic ties in protest.
The UN’s top human rights body — citing “the high number of civilian casualties” and scale of destruction — said it had “serious concerns that these are disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes.”
Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel “to condemn the Israeli war that is killing innocent people in Gaza”.
Israel has rejected such accusations, saying Hamas deliberately uses civilian areas to hide command posts and arsenals that are used to attack Israeli civilians.
The Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday’s strike on Jabalia had killed Hamas battalion commander Ibrahim Biari and destroyed an underground tunnel complex.