Israel Hits Refugee Camp, Targeting Hamas Leaders
Muddled reporting of a messy situation.
The latest NYT live blog is headlined “Israel Hits Dense Gaza Area, Targeting Hamas; Hospital Reports Many Deaths.” Selected snippets, arranged in a more coherent fashion:
Photographs taken on Tuesday showed at least one large crater and significant damage to buildings at the Jabaliya neighborhood in northern Gaza, home of a long-established refugee camp.
The Gazan health ministry, which is controlled by Hamas, said the damage was the result of an attack by Israel that killed and wounded “hundreds” of people, a statement that could not be immediately verified. A spokesman for Israel’s military said it was looking into the reports.
The Israeli military said that Israeli fighter jets had struck Hamas militants, including Ibrahim Biari, a commander, in Gaza’s Jabaliya refugee camp. According to the Israeli military, Biari — who it said had been killed in the attack — was a key plotter of the Hamas-led massacres in Israel on Oct. 7. “As a result of the strike, a large number of terrorists who were with Biari were killed,” the Israeli military said, adding that “underground terror infrastructure” beneath the buildings had collapsed following the strike.
Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman, denied that a Hamas commander had been in the area struck by Israel fighter jets in Jabaliya.
The director of the New York office of the United Nations’ human rights agency has resigned, accusing the U.N. in a sharply worded letter of abandoning its own principles and international law, and of failing to stop Israel’s deadly bombardment of Gaza, which he called a “genocide.”
The former director, Craig Mokhiber, a human rights lawyer, wrote in the letter dated Oct. 28: “I write at a moment of great anguish for the world, including for many of our colleagues. Once again, we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes, and the Organization that we serve appears powerless to stop it.”
In the letter, which was viewed by The New York Times and which the U.N. confirmed was authentic, he accused the U.S. and Britain governments and much of Europe of being “complicit.” He described as “a textbook case of genocide” Israel’s offensive in Gaza and in the West Bank, which has killed at least 8,000 Palestinians, including more than 3,000 children, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza; and has damaged schools, medical facilities, mosques and residential buildings, including U.N. offices.
BBC’s live blog, headlined “Israel military confirms deadly strike on Gaza refugee camp” adds:
The IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari has confirmed that Israeli fighter jets carried out the attack on the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, which he said killed a senior commander and caused the collapse of Hamas’s underground infrastructure.
Here’s a bit more from Hagari. He says the attack also killed several other Hamas members who were with the commander both “in the building and underground”.
He says the targeting of the building led to the collapse of other buildings, which he said had “very extensive infrastructure”.
“The purpose of that infrastructure”, Hagari says, “was to carry out terrorist activities against our forces”.
He says the entire infrastructure collapsed.
Hagari says that Hamas continues to use the civilian population as shields intentionally “and in a very cruel and brutal manner”.
He then says (current Hamas leader in Gaza) “Sinwar does not care about the people of Gaza”, saying he “intentionally built Hamas infrastructure beneath people’s homes”.
Hagari then reiterates the IDF’s call for people in the north of the Gaza Strip to head south. Israel has declared northern Gaza an evacuation zone.
Given the weeks of warnings for civilians to evacuate and the unquestioned military value of Hamas leadership, I would argue that the strike is well within the bounds of proportionality under International Humanitarian Law. Whether Biari was killed in the strike makes no difference in that regard; he’s an extremely high-value target.
None of this, of course, makes the killing of women and children less awful.
Still, the outsized voice being to aid workers who seem to have no understanding of the law of war continues to be a bit much. As does the stenographic reliance on death counts provided by Hamas as though they were gospel.