Palestinian Territory - The Israeli army carried out a massacre in the northern Gaza Strip’s Jabalia refugee camp when it bombed a residential complex last November. Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor led a months-long investigation into the circumstances of the massacre, which Israel committed, using US-made bombs with enormous destructive power, as part of its genocide against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, ongoing since 7 October 2023.

The investigation was based on multiple field visits to the attack site, survivor testimonies, eyewitness accounts, and satellite images. According to the findings, approximately 120 people—the majority of them from a single family—were killed in several Israeli air strikes that targeted Abu Eida Square, a residential square with buildings housing hundreds of civilians and displaced people.

The incident, which occurred on 1 November 2023, represents a war crime and a full-fledged crime against humanity committed by the Israeli army as part of its large-scale military attack against Palestinian civilians in the Strip. 

   The attack was either deliberately direct or excessively indiscriminate, all of which are classified as full-fledged war crimes under the Rome Statute   

  As part of its field investigations over the past months, the Euro-Med Monitor team repeatedly visited the residential square known as Abu Eida Square near the Six Martyrs’ Roundabout in the Jabalia refugee camp’s Al-Faluga area. The team to inspected the site multiple times to determine and document the massive destruction left by the attack.

In addition to analysing video footage and photos of the incident site taken before and after the targeting, the investigation also included interviews with eight witnesses, survivors, and neighbourhood residents who remained in the area. Notably, the majority of the residents were forcibly displaced due to the widespread destruction that occurred there. Analysis of the videos and photos showed the extent of the destruction that occurred at the site, as well as the locations of the targeted buildings that either completely collapsed or suffered significant damage.

According to witness interviews and other sources, there were over 500 residents in the area when it was targeted, and most of them belonged to the Abu Eida family. This number includes both the overall population living in the region at the time, and the displaced individuals who had sought refuge there.

According to Euro-Med Monitor’s investigation, at around 12:30 p.m., Israeli army aircraft dropped six to eight highly destructive air bombs on Abu Eida residential square without any prior notice. The bombs targeted neighbouring residential buildings that ranged in height from one to five stories, as well as a kindergarten.

In a matter of seconds, some buildings suffered significant damage while others were completely levelled. In addition to causing extensive destruction to the neighbouring structures, the targeting left behind large craters in the ground, at least three of which were visible to the Euro-Med Monitor field team and reached a depth of roughly 2.5 metres, with some having a diameter of up to 10 metres.

Witnesses reported that the targeted area contained over 20 modest homes, a one-storey kindergarten building, and asbestos roofs that were used for housing displaced people.

All of the witnesses and survivors that the Euro-Med Monitor team spoke with stated that the bombs dropped quickly and unexpectedly on a number of residential buildings in the area, in what is known as a “ring of fire”, which the Israeli army has used throughout the Gaza Strip since the start of its military assault on 7 October. This Israeli use of multiple heavy bombs to target a specific area, dropping them one after the other on neighbouring buildings in a matter of seconds or minutes, results in significant losses in terms of both human and material life as a result of the massive scope of the targeting and the inability of the populace to flee the targeted area.

According to the Israeli army, “Israeli aircraft struck a command and control centre for Palestinian factions in Jabalia early on 1 November 2023, based on accurate intelligence information. Members of the Hamas Movement were eliminated in the strike.” In the same statement, the Israeli army claimed to have “urged Gazans in this neighbourhood to evacuate” as part of its efforts to “mitigate damage to civilians” and that the army “continues to call on all residents of northern Gaza and Gaza City to evacuate south to a safer area”.

The Euro-Med Monitor team’s investigation, however, has shown that the Israeli army did not issue any prior warnings or alerts before attacking this densely populated area. During their testimonies, all survivors and eyewitnesses denied having received any kind of prior warning prior to the targeting.

With residents’ permission, the Euro-Med Monitor team examined their phones and found no notifications or text messages or calls requesting them to evacuate before the targeting. They also found no leaflets alerting residents to any danger or requesting that they leave the area beforehand, a finding corroborated by the accounts of survivors and eyewitnesses.

On Wednesday 1 November 2023, the Israeli army released video footage of an air strike that it claimed eliminated a member of Hamas in the Al-Faluga region. However, an analysis of this video and a comparison with satellite images shows that, rather than Abu Eida Square, the targeting took place at a different site in the Jabalia camp and dates back to 31 October 2023. Additionally, none of the names of individuals that the Israeli army claims to have targeted appeared when Euro-Med Monitor reviewed the names of the victims of the targeting of Al Abu Eida Square, raising further questions about the veracity of the Israeli account regarding the targeting of the Square.

All of the individuals the Euro-Med Monitor team spoke with also denied seeing any armed groups or military conflicts in the area before the targeting, but they did all confirm that there were families and displaced people in the area, the majority of whom belonged to the same family.

Through its field inspection of the targeted site and reviewing of video clips and pictures of the area at the time of the targeting, the Euro-Med Monitor team also found no evidence of the presence of military targets or armed elements in the vicinity of the targeted residential square at the time of the Israeli attack. It is not apparent that there were any military sites or infrastructure in the area, which was clearly a civilian residential area densely populated with residents and displaced people who were sheltering in simple homes and adjacent residential buildings.

The weaponry employed in the attacks that took place in Jabalia on 31 October and 1 November (Abu Eida Square) shares similarities in terms of size, patterns of destruction, and ultimate outcomes.

Several weapons experts and inspectors have concluded that the weapons used in the 31 October attack were Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs. These bombs may have been GBU 31 (Warhead Mark 84) or GBU 56 (Warhead BLU 109/“fortification-piercing”), and they weighed approximately 2,000 pounds (about 900 kilogrammes). These bombs were part of the Israeli army’s arsenal, which was supplied by the United States, i.e. either exported or produced locally under its licence.

Based on the information above, the Euro-Med Monitor team has concluded that the military attack on Al Abu Eida Square by the Israeli army was either deliberately direct or excessively indiscriminate, all of which are classified as full-fledged war crimes under the Rome Statute. Given that this attack was part of a larger, more organised military campaign by the Israeli army against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, this targeting of a group of civilians qualifies as a full-fledged crime against humanity.