Israeli forces said they targeted a Hamas commander in airstrikes on a Gaza refugee camp Tuesday.
New satellite images show that the strikes caused widespread devastation to a neighborhood.
A number of civilians were reportedly killed in the attack, although the exact figure is unclear.
New satellite images capturing the aftermath of a deadly Israeli airstrike on a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday reveal widespread destruction and buildings reduced to rubble.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claimed responsibility for the strikes it said were targeting Hamas militants and infrastructure in northern Gaza's Jabalia, the largest refugee camp in the coastal enclave. The IDF said that the attack killed a commander who was responsible for the October 7 terror attacks and brutal massacre in southern Israel.
It said the strikes also killed "a large number" of militants and damaged tunnel infrastructure underneath the buildings.
"The strike damaged Hamas' command and control in the area, as well as its ability to direct military activity against IDF soldiers operating throughout the Gaza Strip," the Israeli military said, claiming that the militant group had seized control of civilian buildings.
A large number of civilians were killed in the strikes, according to multiple accounts, although the exact number of killed and wounded is unclear at this time. Some estimates have said hundreds. Martin Griffiths, a top United Nations official in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said in a statement on Wednesday that "scores" of people had reportedly been killed.
Photographs and videos from the site of the explosion revealed scenes of annihilated buildings and people being pulled from the rubble. Before and after images captured by Maxar Technologies and obtained by Insider show extensive damage to the site of the blast, several large craters, and a circle of charred buildings in the immediate vicinity.
In an apparent defense of the attack, the IDF said it "reiterates its call to the residents of the area to move south for their safety," referencing Israel's previous order for civilians to evacuate from northern Gaza to the south last month in preparation for an eventual ground invasion of the enclave. But the strikes on the densely populated neighborhood drew sharp and pointed criticism from the international community.
"Given the high number of civilian casualties & the scale of destruction following Israeli airstrikes on Jabalia refugee camp, we have serious concerns that these are disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes," the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement on Wednesday. Despite the strongly worded statement, the UN does not have any prosecutorial discretion.
The IDF confirmed on Wednesday that its airstrikes hit the refugee camp for a second day in a row, as the military says it continues to target Hamas. An IDF spokesperson later said at a press briefing that the strikes highlight how the militant group uses civilians in Gaza as a "human shield."
Meanwhile, the spokesperson said, Israeli forces are "significantly" expanding ground operations inside northern Gaza, which a large number of troops crossed into several days ago. The IDF has published photographs showing soldiers and heavy armor, like tanks, operating inside the enclave.
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