Who Is Ibrahim Biari, Hamas Mastermind Targeted In Refugee Camp Bombing?
As outrage spreads over the civilian casualties in Tuesday night's bombing, Israel justifies the strike as necessary to eliminate Hamas leaders, including at least one suspected mastermind of the Oct. 7 attack.
Updated Nov. 1, 2023 at 2:10 p.m.
On Tuesday night, an Israeli air strike targeting a Hamas commander in northern Gaza is believed to have killed dozens of people in the densely populated Jabaliya refugee camp. The bombing has sparked outrage at Israel’s willingness to strike even knowing that civilians are likely to be among the victims, with Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, declaring the he was “appalled” by casualties and “laws of war and humanity must always apply.”
Israel justified the attack, saying it was aimed at “several Hamas terrorists” who had barricaded themselves in a multi-story building located near a school, medical center and government offices in the Jabaliya area, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement on Wednesday.
Target No.1 for the IDF was Ibrahim Biari, one of the Hamas commanders held responsible for masterminding the October 7 attack that killed 1,400 in Israel. The IDF says Biari was killed, while Hamas denies he was even in the area.
As commander of the Central Jabaliya Battalion, the IDF says Biari oversaw all the Hamas operations in northern Gaza since the militant group started its ground offensive, and was also believed to be involved in multiple attacks on Israel in the past, including the 2004 Ashdod Port attack in which 13 Israelis were killed.
The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday said it has “struck over 11,000 targets belonging to terrorist organizations in Gaza” since the war began on October 7. The IDF has repeatedly said it is not targeting civilians in its bombardment of Gaza in response to Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,400 people.
Hamas has denied the presence of Biari in the camp at the time of the air strike. Hazem Qassem, a spokesman for the militant group, accused Israel of attempting to justify what he described as a “heinous crime against safe civilians, children, and women in Jabaliya camp.”
According to the health ministry in Gaza, more than 50 people were killed and 150 wounded. Hamas posted a message on Telegram saying that seven of the hostages being held were among those killed in the Jabalia strike.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Riyad Mansour, the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the UN, said the strike was a crime and urged the International Criminal Court to take action.
On Wednesday, there were reports of further strikes in the area. Saudi Arabia condemned Israel’s "inhumane targeting" of the Jabaliya refugee camp, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.
Saudi Arabia had been in talks to normalize relations with Israel in recent months, something Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in September described as a pact that would be “the biggest historical deal since the Cold War.”
Iran, Jordan and Egypt have also condemned the strike, with Egypt accusing Israel of breaking international law with what it said was the “inhuman” targeting of a residential area.
Rafah Crossing opens, first evacuees allowed to leave Gaza since war began
Palestinians are seen at the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt in Rafah.
The first group of injured evacuees have crossed into Egypt via the Rafah border crossing, agencies report on Wednesday. Under the Qatari-brokered deal between Egypt, Israel and Hamas, a number of foreigners and critically wounded people will be allowed to leave the besieged territory.
Passport control officers on the Palestinian side told the BBC that they will first process the 88 people with serious injuries, sending them to an Egyptian field hospital in Sheikh Zuweid near the Rafah border crossing in Egypt. The authorities will then begin processing the documents of dual nationals.
It is believed that there are around 7,000 people registered as dual nationals in Gaza, many of whom are Jordanians, but other nationalities include Austrians, Japanese, Bulgarians, Indonesians, and Australians.
Five-hundred people per day will be allowed to cross to the Egyptian side of the border.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, said on social media that he "welcomes" the agreement , offering the WHO’s full “support”. "We need an immediate acceleration in the flow of medical aid permitted into Gaza. Hospitals must be protected from bombardment and military use," he added.
IDF: 13 Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza
Israel reported on Wednesday that 13 IDF soldiers have been killed since combat in Gaza began. This followed a brief video circulated of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to the families of those killed: “Our soldiers have fallen in the most just of wars, the war for our home. I promise the citizens of Israel: We will complete the work – we will continue until victory.”
In the first three weeks since the Hamas attack of Oct. 7, several rapid-fire Israeli ground raids had been conducted, in which the forces entered Palestinian territory before crossing back into Israel. The more sustained ground offensive has now entered its fourth full day, even if neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor Israel Defense Forces officials have declared the beginning of an all-out invasion. Instead, the information the world has is that the troops have remained inside Gaza, and have advanced more than two miles (3km) since Friday night. On Monday, the IDF said it had attacked some 600 targets.
Tuesday's report by the IDF of attacking Hamas gunmen inside the tunnel network shines a light on one of the most dangerous obstacles for Israel in its goal of taking out the militant group in Gaza. As French dailyLes Echos reports, Hamas has been extending this so-called “Gaza Metro” for years, preparing for just this kind of scenario.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the nation Saturday night that the military has opened a “second stage” in the war against Hamas by sending ground forces into Gaza and expanding attacks from the ground, air and sea.
The apparent caution in describing the nature of Israel’s actions may be an attempt to avoid an escalation to other fronts. On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abollahian warned against a ground invasion of Gaza, saying could lead to the eruption of a regional war.
“Opening of new fronts will be unavoidable and that will put Israel in a new situation that will make it regret its actions,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “This has reached the point of explosion. Anything is possible and any front can be opened up”.
The death toll is now 8,525 Palestinians, including 3,542 children in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. More children have been killed in Gaza in the past three weeks than the total killed in conflicts around the world in every year since 2019, Save the Children said.
Netanyahu reacts to hostage video, Herzog says German-Israeli woman was beheaded
The Empty Shabbat Table installation in London, for the Israeli hostages held by Hamas.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office issued a statement after Hamas released a short video Monday, showing three women believed to be hostages in Gaza. His office say it was “doing everything to bring all the kidnapped and missing people home.”
The hostage video is only the second one released since it captured up to 240 people, according to figures released Tuesday by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The video appears intended to undermine Netanyahu with pointed criticism over his leadership by the detained women.
One of the three women is seen calling on the Israeli Prime Minister to conclude a prisoner exchange with the Palestinian Islamist movement in order to secure their release.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced on Monday the death of a German-Israeli woman who had been kidnapped by Hamas on October 7.
"We are devastated to inform you that the death of 23-year-old German-Israeli Shani Louk has been confirmed," the ministry wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. Shani Louk had been kidnapped by the Palestinian Islamist movement while taking part in an electronic music festival in southern Israel.
In an interview with German media, Israeli President Yitzchak Herzog said investigators have determined that Louk had been decapitated. "Her skull has been found," Herzog said. "It means that these barbaric, sadistic animals simply chopped off her head while they were attacking, torturing and killing Israelis."
Read about how Hamas' strategy to use hostages in its war suggests that its patron, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is exporting its methods around the Middle East.
Impossible evacuation at the Al-Quds Hospital
UN human rights office spokesperson Elizabeth Throssell said on Tuesday that attacking hospitals “would amount to a violation of international humanitarian law”.
The United Nations and medical staff are warning that airstrikes have hit closer to hospitals where tens of thousands of Palestinians have sought shelter alongside thousands of wounded.
The Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza, which is treating hundreds of patients while offering shelter to 12,000 displaced people, received new warnings on Sunday from Israel to immediately evacuate the hospital ahead of a possible bombardment. The World Health Organization said the order was “impossible” to follow without endangering patient’s lives.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society accused Israel of “deliberately” launching airstrikes “directly next to” the facility in order to force an evacuation of the hospital, the second-largest in Gaza City.
The hospital is located north of Wadi Gaza, the line Israel has urged people in Gaza to flee south of as it continues to strike what it says are Hamas targets in the north. Aid groups have criticized the evacuation order, pointing to the challenges for civilians of moving within Gaza while it is under attack.
Hostage soldier rescued in Gaza
Israel daily Yediot Ahronot dedicates its front page to Ori Megidish, an Israel Defense Forces soldier, freed during an operation in Gaza of the IDF and the internal security agency Shin Bet.
Israel-Hezbollah fire fights, as risks of spillover rise
The Israel Defense Forces reported on Monday that it had "responded" to gunfire on the border with Lebanon. "The Israeli army also struck Hezbollah military infrastructures in Lebanon," the same source added.
Since the start of the war, clashes between Hamas ally Hezbollah and the Israeli army have occurred almost daily on the Israeli-Lebanese border. According to the Agence France Presse, the violence has killed 58 people in Lebanon, most of them Hezbollah fighters, but also four civilians, including Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah.
In an interview with AFP on Monday, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said he was doing everything to "prevent Lebanon from entering the war". He also said he was not in a position to say whether Hezbollah wanted a new war with the Jewish state.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is working to send a “strong” message of deterrence to Iran as concerns of a wider regional conflict escalate, the White House said on Monday. “We’re certainly going to act — if we have to— to continue to protect our troops and our facilities. We have proven that we will strike and act to do that. And that's a strong message that Iran needs to take away. We take those responsibilities seriously,” said John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications.
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi said Sunday that Israel has "crossed the red lines" and it "may force everyone to take action."
Pro-Palestinian protests multiply around the world
Pro-Palestine demonstrators hold a candlelight vigil outside Tokyo Station to pay tribute to the civilian victims of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.
The radio silence that fell on Gaza over the weekend, following the communications blackout imposed by Israel’s army, is in sharp contrast with the global outcry voiced through increased protests around the world. As shelling intensifies, and with the ground offensive underway, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets across major international cities, to denounce Israel’s treatment of the besieged area and call for a ceasefire:
For the second week in a row, an estimated 100,000 demonstrators marched through central London to protest the situation in the Mideast, with many expressing anger at the inability of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government to officially back calls for a ceasefire.
• New York
Thousands marched across New York’s iconic Brooklyn Bridge as part of a protest entitled “Flood Brooklyn for Gaza”, chanting slogans like “Free, free Palestine!” The march came just hours after pro-Palestinian protesters belonging to the Jewish Voice for Peace activist group occupied New York’s Grand Central Terminal, which ended with authorities detaining at least 200 protesters.
Despite a ban over security concerns, a pro-Palestinian rally was held in Paris with several thousands risking a 135-euro fine for taking part. The ban was imposed because of "heightened tensions linked to the events in the Gaza Strip with a rise in anti-Semitic acts in France". Last week France's Conseil d'Etat ruled that demonstrations in support of Palestinians cannot be categorically banned, but should be considered on a case-by-case basis. RFI reports that 21 arrests were made during the protest and more than 1,350 fines were issued.
On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a crowd of Palestinian supporters gathered in Istanbul that they should leave the rally “with the determination to never allow new Gazas to arise.”
Thousands of people, including women and children gathered on Sunday in Islamabad, for what Al Jazeera has called “the largest pro-Palestine rally in Pakistan since Israel’s war on Gaza began this October.” Thousands of supporters, with many belonging to the country’s main religious political party Jamaat-e-Islami rallied in the capital, reportedly chanting anti-American slogans while accusing the U.S. of “backing the aggressor.”
Thousands of protesters gathered in Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square, in a show of Lebanese solidarity toward the plight of Gaza residents — amid growing tension on the Lebanon-Israel border and increased clashes between Hezbollah fighters and Israeli soldiers.
Anti-Israel mob at Russian airport recalls “pogroms”
When word spread that a plane from Tel Aviv was landing in Dagestan, Russia, a mob stormed the airport in what can only be described as a modern-day pogrom. pic.twitter.com/1G6phfdraz— Aviva Klompas (@AvivaKlompas) October 29, 2023
Evoking the anti-Semitic mobs of the 19th century around Russia and Eastern Europe, several hundred young men descended on an airplane from Tel Aviv after it landed at an airport in the Russian republic of Dagestan. It is part of a series of anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli attacks in the Muslim-majority region since the war in Gaza began. Read more here.
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