IDF officials defended Tuesday’s attack on the Jabalia refugee camp, claiming that the purpose of the operation was to target Hamas commander Ibrahim Biari, and therefore, the bombing was justified. The airstrike killed 50 people and injured 150 others, according to the Gaza health ministry.
Mr Blitzer asked IDF spokesperson Lt Col Richard Hecht if the camp had been targeted despite the knowledge that civilians would be killed.
“But even if that Hamas commander was there amidst all those Palestinian refugees…Israel still went ahead and dropped a bomb there attempting to kill the Hamas commander, knowing that a lot of innocent civilians — men, women and children — presumably would be killed? Is that what I’m hearing?” Mr Blitzer said.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer: You knew that there were innocent civilians in that refugee camp, right?
IDF spox: This is the tragedy of war. We told them to move south.
Blitzer: So you decided to drop the bomb anyway.
IDF spox: We’re doing everything we can to minimize civilian deaths. pic.twitter.com/oAtW7jV0pc
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) October 31, 2023
Lt Col Hecht said, “That’s not what you are hearing, Wolf. We, again, were focused on this commander, again, who you’ll get more data who this man was. Killed, many, many Israelis. And we’re doing everything we can. It’s a very complicated battle space. There could be infrastructure there. There could be tunnels there.”
Mr Blitzer then once again pressed Mr Hecht to focus on the innocent refugees who lost their lives as a result of the bombing. The IDF spokesperson replied, “This is the tragedy of war, Wolf.” He said they had warned people in Gaza to move south.
“Yeah, I’m just trying to get a little bit more information. You knew there were civilians there. You knew there were refugees. But you decided to still drop a bomb on that refugee camp attempting to kill that Hamas commander. By the way, was he killed?”
Mr Hecht confirmed that the Hamas commander was killed and said, “about the civilians there, we’re doing everything we can to minimise. Sadly they are hiding themselves within the civilian population…We’re going to go after every one of these terrorists who was involved in the hideous attack” on 7 October.
The IDF also confirmed the Hamas commander’s death in a statement on Tuesday: “A short while ago, IDF fighter jets, acting on ISA intelligence, killed Ibrahim Biari, the Commander of Hamas’ Central Jabaliya Battalion. Biari was one of the leaders responsible for sending ‘Nukbha’ terrorist operatives to Israel to carry out the murderous terror attack on October 7th. Numerous Hamas terrorists were hit in the strike.” Hamas, however, has denied that Biari was at the site during the attack, according to CNN.
Despite Israel’s defence of the strike, many have condemned it.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry told Turkish state media in the wake of the attack: “Egypt strongly condemns the Israeli inhumane targeting of an entire residential square in Jabalia camp northern Gaza and left hundreds killed and injured.”
Humza Yousaf, First Minister of Scotland, wrote on X: “I am sorry to those innocent men, women and children in Jabalia Refugee Camp that the world could not protect you. This blatant disregard for human life must be condemned unequivocally. Do not let any more children die. We need an immediate ceasefire, nothing less.”
“We are horrified by news coming from Jabalia camp where high numbers of people have reportedly been killed by an Israeli airstrike,” Doctors Without Borders said in a statement following the strike. “We condemn this latest episode of senseless violence and reiterate our call for an immediate ceasefire to prevent more deaths across the Strip. Enough is enough!”