Saudi Arabia condemns ‘inhumane’ IDF strike on Gaza’s Jabaliya

Riyadh denounces strike ‘in strongest terms possible’ after IDF says it targeted Hamas stronghold, blames widespread destruction on tunnels under neighborhood

Rubble litters a street between smoldering buildings in Jabaliya, Gaza Strip, Wednesday, October 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Rubble litters a street between smoldering buildings in Jabaliya, Gaza Strip, Wednesday, October 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia on Wednesday roundly condemned an Israeli airstrike in the Jabaliya refugee camp on Tuesday in which the IDF said they killed the commander of Hamas’s Central Jabaliya Battalion, Ibrahim Biari.

Israel said it had targeted a Hamas tunnel complex under the densely populated Jabaliya camp on Tuesday, killing Biari, who it believes was involved in the terror group’s October 7 attacks, as well as several other terrorists.

Palestinian reports have stated that dozens of people in the area were killed during the strike and AFP witnessed at least 47 bodies being recovered from the scene.

The IDF airstrike in Jabaliya was part of a “wide-scale strike” against Hamas’s Central Jabaliya Batallion. Israel said buildings collapsed due to Hamas tunnels running underneath the area, which had destabilized the ground. It said 50 terrorists, including one of the Hamas commanders responsible for the October 7 slaughter of Israelis, were killed in the incident, which also involved ground forces.

The strike was the latest development in Israel’s war against Hamas, which erupted on October 7 when some 2,500 Hamas terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,400 people and seizing over 230 hostages of all ages under the cover of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

In response, Israel vowed to eradicate the Gaza terror group and launched an offensive aimed at destroying Hamas’s military and governance capabilities.

Saudi Arabia denounced the strike “in the strongest terms possible,” decrying the “inhumane targeting” of the refugee camp “by the Israeli occupation forces.”

The attack, Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said, had “caused the death and injury of a large number of innocent civilians.”

Palestinians inspect the damage of buildings destroyed after Israeli airstrikes on the Jabaliya refugee camp on the outskirts of Gaza City, October 31, 2023. The IDF said the airstrikes were part of ‘a wide-scale strike’ on Hamas operatives and infrastructure belonging to the terror group’s Central Jabaliya Battalion and that the buildings collapsed when Hamas tunnels were targeted. (Abdul Qader Sabbah/AP)

The statement from Riyadh was the latest sign the Israel-Hamas war has fractured efforts to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Before Hamas launched the deadliest attack in Israel’s history on October 7, the United States had been close to brokering a deal that would have seen Saudi Arabia — home to Islam’s holiest sites — recognize Israel for the first time.

Supporters of the deal believe it could have transformed the Middle East, after decades in which Israel had very limited diplomatic, commercial and security ties with its neighbors.

In October, a source familiar with that process told AFP that Riyadh had decided to “pause discussion on possible normalization.”

Saudi Arabia had previously warned Israel against any further ground operations in the Gaza Strip, where Israel continues to press on with its goal of eliminating the ruling terror group.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry has stated that Israeli strikes have killed more than 8,500 people. However, the figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires.

Thirteen Israeli soldiers were killed Tuesday in fighting deep inside Gaza, including seven troops from the Givati Infantry Brigade’s Tzabar Battalion killed when a Namer armored personnel carrier they were in was hit by an anti-tank guided missile fired by Hamas.

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