The Israeli military bombed Gaza’s largest refugee camp on Tuesday, killing dozens, if not hundreds, of Palestinians.
The Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza has been “completely destroyed,” Gaza’s interior ministry has reported. An Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman has confirmed that the strike was orchestrated by Israeli forces.
The death count varies depending on the source and will likely not be known for days, or longer. Gaza’s interior ministry is reporting that about 400 people are dead or wounded. The director of the nearby Indonesian Hospital, which is at full capacity, and the Palestinian health ministry reported in the immediate wake of the attack that at least 50 people were killed, with dozens of bodies recovered so far, AFP reports.
Photos and video of the camp show several large craters and massive amounts of rubble. Survivors have been scrambling to pull people out from under the wreckage of buildings that were totally leveled or heavily damaged.
The bombing is one of the worst to hit Gaza since Israel’s siege began, Al Jazeera reported. “It’s a massive massacre. It is hard to count the number of buildings that have been destroyed here,” said Al Jazeera’s Anas Al Shareef.
Jabalia is the largest refugee camp in Gaza, with 116,011 Palestinian refugees registered in the camp as of this year, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This isn’t the first time the camp has been bombed since Israel began its current siege on October 7; Israeli forces have bombed the camp multiple times over the past few weeks, killing and wounding dozens of people.
In an interview on CNN on Tuesday, an IDF spokesperson said in an exchange with Wolf Blitzer that the death of the civilians hit in the strike were justified. (Notably, targeting civilians is an international war crime.) “You knew that there were innocent civilians in that refugee camp, right?” Blitzer asked.
“This is the tragedy of war, Wolf. As we’ve been saying for days, move south,” the spokesperson said, seemingly as a justification — despite the fact that Israel has also been raining bombs down on southern Gaza. Experts have repeatedly warned that evacuating the entirety of northern Gaza in just weeks is impossible given Israel’s blockade on food, water, electricity and fuel, as well as other considerations, particularly concerning the young, the elderly and people who are ill or critically injured from airstrikes.
The camp bombing comes amid an intensified airstrike campaign by Israel, which has dropped thousands of bombs on residential neighborhoods and Palestinian civilians in the past few weeks; Al Jazeera reports that bombs are coming relentlessly, 24 hours a day. On Friday, Israel even further escalated its bombing and raids after knocking out phone, cell and internet service to Gaza, causing a 34-hour communications blackout over the weekend.
With the blackout, Israel said that their forces were entering the “second stage” of their genocide of Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the military is carrying out its “second independence,” recalling the ongoing massacres and mass displacement of Palestinians since the 1940s, when Israeli forces violently expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their historic territory in an event that Palestinians know as the Nakba, or catastrophe.
Israeli officials have pledged that the massacre will not stop any time soon. On Monday, Netanyahu rejected international demands for a ceasefire, saying: “this is a time for war.” One former Israel military official told the Financial Times that the military is “destroying anything that moves” in Gaza — echoing orders that instigated some of the most horrific military atrocities in recent history.
Meanwhile, a document from the Israeli Ministry of Intelligence, dated October 13, 2023, has recommended the forcible and permanent expulsion of the 2.2 million people who live in Gaza to Egypt, as reported by Local Call and +972 Magazine. The document’s authenticity was confirmed by the Israeli ministry. While the ministry’s recommendations are not binding, it specifies that full ethnic cleansing is its preferred course of action.
As of Monday, Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 8,525 Palestinian people in Gaza since October 7. Israeli airstrikes and raids have also killed more than 122 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
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