The United Nations human rights office has said the Israeli air attack on Gaza’s Jabalia refugee camp could amount to a war crime, amid growing horror at the rising number of civilians killed in the nearly month-long war.
The camp, in a densely populated part of Gaza City, was hit by a missile on Tuesday, leaving a giant crater amid bombed-out buildings before it was targeted in a second bombing on Wednesday.
The Gaza Government Media Office said at least 195 people had been confirmed dead, with more than 100 thought to be missing beneath the rubble. Some 777 people were injured in the attacks. Israel said the attack targeted a Hamas commander.
The comments follow a wave of condemnation from the United Nations, where officials expressed shock and horror at the attacks on Jabalia, Gaza’s largest refugee camp.
Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric said Antonio Guterres “is appalled over the escalating violence in Gaza”, This includes “the killing of Palestinians, including women and children, in Israeli air strikes in residential areas of the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp”, Dujarric added.
The UN’s children’s agency, UNICEF, described the attacks as “horrific and appalling”.
It was said that it was too early to know how many children were among the dead in Jabalia, but it was noted that more than 3,500 children had been killed since October 7, when Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1,400 people and taking 200 captives, and Israel began its bombardment of Gaza in response.
Gaza, controlled by Hamas since 2006, is home to about 2.3 million people who have lived under a blockade for 17 years.
Israel said Jabalia was attacked because of a “vast” tunnel complex at the site and that “many Hamas terrorists” had been killed, including local commander Ibrahim Biari, whom Israel accused of involvement in the October 7 attack. Hamas claimed seven captives, including three foreigners, had been killed in the bombing.
The attacks on Jabalia came as the Rafah crossing on the southern border with Egypt was finally opened, albeit only for the most seriously injured and some foreign nationals. The opening of the crossing also allowed Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN agency that works to help Palestinian refugees, to get into Gaza for the first time since the conflict began.