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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

'A Clear-Cut War Crime': Outrage Grows as Israel Again Bombs Gaza Refugee Camp

"The U.S. government cannot keep funding these atrocities," said U.S. Rep. Cori Bush. "There must be a cease-fire now."

Survivors in the rubble at the Jabalia refugee camp after Israeli attacks

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

The Israeli military bombed Gaza's largest refugee camp for the second consecutive day on Wednesday as humanitarian groups and lawmakers called the series of attacks a blatant war crime and slammed the U.S. government for enabling such atrocities.

Wednesday's attack reportedly killed and wounded "a number of" people at the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp, where hundreds were killed or injured roughly 24 hours earlier in bombings by the Israeli military.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) asserted that Tuesday's strikes were aimed at a "tunnel complex" where a senior Hamas commander, Ibrahim Biari, was purportedly hiding. The IDF said the airstrikes killed Biari but denied intentionally bombing the camp's buildings, more than a dozen of which were leveled in the attack.

"I was waiting in line to buy bread when suddenly and without any prior warning seven to eight missiles fell," said one eyewitness. "There were seven to eight huge holes in the ground, full of killed people, body parts all over the place. It felt like the end of the world."

A Doctors Without Borders nurse in Gaza said that after Tuesday's strikes, "young children arrived at the hospital with deep wounds and severe burns."

"They came without their families," the nurse added. "Many were screaming and asking for their parents. I stayed with them until we could find a place, as the hospital was full with patients."

Asked about the civilians who were killed in the Tuesday strikes, an IDF spokesperson told CNN that "this is the tragedy of war" and that the Israeli military instructed people in the area to "move south."

Hamas denied the claim that one of its commanders was in the area targeted by the Israeli military.

Jeremy Konyndyk, the president of Refugees International, argued Tuesday that Israel's assault on Gaza's largest refugee camp "is a clear-cut war crime."

"It shows wanton disregard for the legal obligation to minimize civilian harm in targeting military objectives. It is the latest of many such attacks by the IDF," Konyndyk wrote. "This in turn underscores that Netanyahu is making a mockery of Biden's repeated pleas to follow the laws of war—without any acknowledgment of that reality by the U.S. This leaves a cease-fire as the only viable path to civilian protection."

U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), who is leading a congressional resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, also denounced the refugee camp bombing as a war crime and said that "this unspeakable violence must end."

"The U.S. government cannot keep funding these atrocities," Bush added. "There must be a cease-fire now."

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) similarly criticized the Biden administration and Congress for backing Israel as it carries out massive crimes against humanity.

"Make no mistake: these human rights abuses are being carried out with U.S. weapons, U.S. funding, and with 'no red lines,'" Omar wrote on social media. "And now we are set to vote on an additional $14 billion with no restrictions or conditions. The United States Congress should not fund violations of U.S. and international law."

Israeli forces have killed at least 8,800 people in Gaza since October 7, when Hamas launched a deadly attack on Israel.

The nation's relentless bombing campaign and siege have fueled a massive humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, displacing more than a million people, imperiling the enclave's healthcare system, and decimating much of the territory's civilian infrastructure—including communication and internet services.

The United Nations and human rights organizations have accused Israeli forces of committing grave war crimes in Gaza, including collective punishment, forcible transfer, and genocide.

The wave of airstrikes that hit Jabalia on Wednesday marked at least the sixth time Israel has bombed the camp since October 7, according to Al Jazeera.

"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," United Nations emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths said of the Jabalia attack on Wednesday. "Meanwhile, the world seems unable, or unwilling, to act. This cannot go on."

Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, a United Kingdom-based legal charity, said in a statement Wednesday that the Jabalia strikes "should overwhelmingly signal to the U.K. Government and Labour Party that they must now call for an immediate cease-fire."

"We urge the U.K. Government and Labour Party to urgently revise their position in light of the Jabalia mass killing, and clearly place the future preservation of civilian life as its highest objective," the group added.

Jake Johnson is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.

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