A Times analysis of satellite imagery and social media videos shows that an airstrike Israel said targeted a senior leader of Hamas on Tuesday had destroyed a densely populated area in the Jabaliya neighborhood, which is home to the largest refugee camp in Gaza.
The medical director of a nearby hospital reported hundreds of injured people and dozens of deaths. The scale of the destruction raises questions about whether the civilian toll is proportionate with the Israeli military’s stated military objectives.
Videos and images verified by The Times of the strike’s aftermath show civilians, including children, being pulled from the rubble and carried away. Some appear lifeless. “Dead bodies are everywhere,” said Mahmoud Abusalama, a local photographer at the scene who was posting to his Instagram channel. “Everyone is looking for their family.”
A Facebook livestream showed victims from the attack being treated at a nearby hospital. “We have to choose who we treat because we cannot treat everyone,” a doctor says.
The Israeli military said that the strike had killed “a large number of terrorists,” including a senior Hamas commander it identified as Ibrahim Biari, saying that he had helped plan the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel. A Hamas spokesman denied that a commander had been in the targeted area.
The Times’s assessment of the damage shows multiple large buildings flattened. As of 2023, there were more than 116,000 people registered at the refugee camp, which covers an area of only 1.4 square kilometers.
The Jabaliya camp is in northern Gaza, an area for which the Israeli military has issued evacuation orders. “Giving warning does not absolve parties from the requirement to protect civilians,” said Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch. “Civilians who do not evacuate” he added, must still be protected.
Marc Garlasco, a military adviser for PAX Protection of Civilians, a Dutch program affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands, told The Times that the craters at the scene were consistent with the damage caused by Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, used by the Israeli military. These munition kits turn unguided bombs into precision, GPS-guided weapons.
Experts say that Israel’s bombardment of densely populated areas raises concerns under international humanitarian law. “International law prohibits attacks in which the expected harm to civilians and civilian properties is disproportionate to the anticipated military gain,” Mr. Shakir said.
Ainara Tiefenthäler contributed video editing. Abeer Pamuk contributed translation.