Jerusalem, November 1 (IANS) The Israel military on Wednesday claimed responsibility for the airstrike on the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza, the largest in the besieged enclave, and said that one of the top Hamas leaders who was responsible for the October 7 assault was killed in the attack.
In a post on X, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said: "IDF fighter jets eliminated Ibrahim Biari, Commander of Hamas' Central Jabaliya Battalion. Biari was one of the leaders responsible for the murderous terror attack on October 7th.
"The strike damaged Hamas’ command and control in the area and eliminated a large number of terrorists who were with Biari. Additionally, underground terrorist infrastructure collapsed following the strike.
"The IDF reiterates its call to the residents of the area to move south for their safety."
Jabalya is the largest of the Gaza Strip's eight refugee camps, according to the UN.
Defending Tuesday's airstrike which killed a large number of people and caused catastrophic damages, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the refugee camp was targeted to kill Biari, who was “pivotal to the planning and the execution of the October 7 attack”.
“He was actively coordinating, orchestrating, and leading combat activities against the IDF as he was targeted,” CNN quoted Conricus as saying to reporters.
The IDF spokesperson said that Biari’s activities go back to before 2004 when he “masterminded” an attack in Ashdod that led to the killing of 13 Israelis.
“Dozens” of Hamas combatants were also killed in Tuesday’s strike when underground tunnels beneath the camp collapsed, Conricus said, adding that the IDF is still working to obtain a precise number of casualties.
“I understand that that is also the reason why there are many reports of collateral damage and non-combatant casualties. We’re looking into those as well,” Conricus said.
Conricus said they are working to determine the number of civilians who were also killed in the strike, adding that the IDF had considered all factors when making the strike “including the possibilities of non-combatants being affected”.
The spokesperson noted that the military had notified civilians to leave the area through the distribution of leaflets, messages on social media and radio dispatches, CNN reported.
“I want to emphasize the strike was on a military target of significant military importance to the battlefield and for us to be able to be able to obtain our military objectives. That is why it was struck,” Conricus said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the IDF said that its troops on the ground had targeted a Hamas terrorist stronghold in Jabaliya "used for training and execution of terrorism activities".
"During the ground activity, the troops eliminated approx. 50 terrorists, as well as destroyed entrances to terrorist tunnels and weapons," it said on X.
Meanwhile, the Hamas has denied that a member was present in the camp during the aistrike.
Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem accused Israel of attempting to justify what he described as a "heinous crime against safe civilians, children, and women in Jabalya camp".
According to the Gaza-based Interior Ministry, at least 20 homes were completely flattened as a result of the strike.
However, the number of casualties were not immediately confirmed.
Multiple Arab nations have condemned the airstrike on the Jabaliya camp.
While Jordan held "Israel, the occupying power responsible for this dangerous development", Saudi Arabia "affirmed that the dangerous humanitarian conditions resulting from the continuous escalation cannot be justified at all", reports CNN.
Iran "condemned in the strongest terms the barbaric attack" and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) warned that “indiscriminate attacks will result in irreparable ramifications in the region".