Israeli forces have bombed the densely packed Jabalia refugee camp in north Gaza for the second day in a row, following a previous assault that killed dozens of people and wounded many others.
Palestinian authorities said “dozens of people were killed and wounded” in the attack on Wednesday.
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Footage from the scene of the attack showed people standing around large craters as rescue workers and volunteers dug through piles of rubble with their hands searching for people and bodies trapped under collapsed buildings.
The news outlet AFP reported that rescuers said that “whole families” had been wiped out in the attack.
The Israeli military later issued a statement saying its fighter jets had struck a Hamas command and control complex in Jabalia “based on precise intelligence”, killing the head of the group’s anti-tank missile unit, Muhammad A’sar.
More than 50 people were killed and dozens of others wounded in the bombing of Jabalia on Tuesday, according to Palestinian authorities and the director of the Indonesian Hospital, which received some of the casualties.
Mohamed Abu Al-Qumsan, a broadcast engineer with Al Jazeera’s bureau in Gaza, lost 19 family members in the attack.
The Palestinian armed group Hamas said that seven captives, taken during the group’s deadly incursion into Israel on October 7 that Israeli authorities say killed more than 1,400 people and took more than 200 captives, were killed in the bombing on Tuesday.
“Seven detainees were killed in the Jabalia massacre yesterday, including three holders of foreign passports,” the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Israel has defended the Tuesday attack on Jabalia, which drew condemnation from human rights organisations and Middle Eastern nations such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, stating that it was targeting a Hamas commander in the area.
Israel said its warplanes had hit a “vast” tunnel complex at the site, killing “many Hamas terrorists,” including local battalion commander Ibrahim Biari.
The UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths described the attack as an “atrocity”.
“This is just the latest atrocity to befall the people of Gaza where the fighting has entered an even more terrifying phase, with increasingly dreadful humanitarian consequences,” he said.
In a social media post on Wednesday, the European Union’s top diplomat, Joseph Borrell, said that he was “appalled by the high number of casualties following the bombing by Israel of the Jabalia refugee camp”.
While Borrell reiterated the EU’s support for Israel, he said that “laws of war and humanity must always apply”.