Mass graves in Jabalia stand as a harrowing testament to the brutality of Israel’s war on Gaza. Israeli forces continue to kill anything that moves, openly flouting Joe Biden’s “red line” in Rafah and pushing the crisis to apocalyptic levels.

A man sits on debris as Palestinians search for survivors after an Israeli attack on the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, on November 1, 2023. (Ali Jadallah / Anadolu via Getty Images)

On Thursday, after twenty days of relentless bombardment and ground assaults, Israeli forces partially withdrew from Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, leaving the camp in total ruins.

Palestinians faced a fresh wave of horror as they scrambled to search for their loved ones. In the wake of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) withdrawal from the camp, new mass graves have been discovered, revealing a another chapter in Israel’s atrocities and adding to the series of mass graves found throughout Gaza.

Over 120 bodies have been uncovered thus far, found mostly in pieces, including the skeletal remains of a woman and her children. The victims include a beheaded baby, with an utterly decomposed body. Due to the extent of decomposition, families struggled to identify their loved ones from their clothes and shoes, body shapes, and even teeth.

The scene resembles a slaughterhouse, with bodies strewn amid the ruins and dozens more buried under rubble. Body parts, skulls, and bones lay scattered across the area. Using primitive tools and working under relentless bombardment while still surrounded by IDF military tanks, Palestinians continue to dig out their loved ones in Jabalia.

Most of the bodies remain unidentified, dismembered or decomposed beyond recognition. A bone-chilling report by Palestinian journalist Hossam Shabat documents the last remains of a family of thirty, consisting only of empty clothes whose wearers’ bodies had dissolved, including those of a child whose little body had decomposed in his bed.

Most of the victims were children and women who were killed by Israeli snipers while attempting to flee the fiercely bombarded camp. Among the victims are Nisma and Moamen, child siblings who were killed by an Israeli missile strike that targeted their family home in Jabalia. Others were shot in cold blood in the sanctuary of their homes. A man carrying the body of his father told reporters that his elderly father was sitting in his home when “they shot him and threw a rocket at him from a drone.” Some victims were effectively killed twice, as Israeli tanks and bulldozers destroyed and flattened graves where the dead were resting.

The wounded have little hope for survival. During its incursion, the Israeli army turned the Indonesian Hospital in Jabalia into a military base and command center, having forcibly evacuated thousands of wounded civilians and displaced families seeking shelter within its premises.

In the wake of the unspeakable massacres committed by the IDF in Jabalia, tens of thousands of Palestinians fled the camp during the Israeli assault, with nowhere safe to go.

“Jabalia Has Been Wiped off the Map”

Israel’s incursion into Jabalia was one of its most devastating attacks on record. Gaza’s civil defense reports that the IDF destroyed over one thousand homes there. The camp has been reduced to rubble and left completely unlivable. It has become an “unrecognizable” wasteland teeming with the displaced. Residents returned to find only empty shells of razed houses and buildings. Thousands have been made homeless.

“Jabalia has been wiped off the map,” said Suad Abu Salah, a returning Jabalia resident. Mohammed Al-Najjar, another shocked resident, compared the ravaged camp to a place “hit by an earthquake,” saying the devastation wrought on Jabalia was “pure vengeance against the people.” In shock, with a trembling voice, journalist Malak Abu Hussein has documented her destroyed neighborhood in Jabalia.

Due to the unspeakable destruction left by Israeli forces, the head of the Municipal Emergency Committee in North Gaza has declared Jabalia refugee camp and the city of Beit Hanoun “disaster areas.” The use of the adjective mankuba in this declaration unmistakably evokes the trauma of the Nakba.

To starve the survivors, Israeli forces burned food storage facilities belonging to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which Israel now considers a terrorist organization. Armed with massive US bombs, they blitzed hospitals, markets, schools, and refugee shelters, destroying the last means of survival for Palestinians in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers have posted photos and videos of themselves, accompanied by traditional Palestinian music, celebrating the destruction of homes, shops, and UNRWA premises in Jabalia. An IDF tank commander posted footage of himself and his platoon indiscriminately shelling Palestinian homes and detonating warehouses in Gaza, amid cheers of celebration.

Jabalia is the largest of Gaza’s eight refugee camps. It was founded in the wake of the Nakba to provide shelter to Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed and uprooted from their homes by Israel. Home to more than 120,000 Palestinians, this narrow sliver of land, barely 1.4 square kilometers, houses the most densely populated refugee camp on earth.

The camp is legendary for its steadfastness and resilience, making it a frequent target of Israeli invasions and brutal massacres. Jabalia was the birthplace of the first Palestinian popular uprising, known as an “intifada.” Nicknamed “Vietnam camp,” Jabalia was always the center of resistance to Israeli occupation.

This is a war against civilians, as Israeli forces in Gaza shoot and bomb anything that moves or breathes.

But Jabalia is hardly alone, as Israel’s genocidal attacks have spared no camps. While bombarding Jabalia, Israel bombed a house in al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, killing a family of five. Footage shows a rescuer holding a leg, shouting, “Whose leg is this?” Another shows a grieving father who nearly collapses in agony as he kneels on the ground to mourn his slain children. Overnight, Gaza civil defense teams pulled out the bodies of a man, a woman, and their baby from the rubble of a house east of Gaza City, after they were massacred in an Israeli air strike.

On Sunday, Israel bombarded al-Zawaida refugee camp in central Gaza, killing dozens of Palestinians, most of them children. Heartbreaking footage shows a mourning man weeping in front of his slain son and granddaughter, whose bodies were blown up in an Israeli air strike.

This is a war against civilians, as Israeli forces in Gaza shoot and bomb anything that moves or breathes. Bone-chilling footage shows Israeli snipers shooting dead a Palestinian grandmother who was walking a child to safety while waving a white flag. There are horrific reports that Israel is using Palestinian families in Gaza as human shields.

Bombing Civilians

In its barbaric attacks on Palestinian civilians, Israel has bombed, with chilling precision, scores of innocent people whose only sin was helping Palestinians survive. It bombed and killed a Gazan family of three brothers, who had cooked and distributed food to displaced Palestinians for months.

It bombed an ambulance carrying Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) paramedics, whose bodies were cut in half and dismembered. It shelled a mother baking bread for her children and bombed children seeking food in the Tuffah neighborhood. It slaughtered the son of Palestinian journalist Motasem Dalloul while he was staying with his family near a refugee shelter in Gaza City, just two weeks after killing Dalloul’s other son. Overnight, Israel assassinated two Gaza journalists: Ola al-Dahdouh and Abdullah al-Najjar.

Survivors’ prospects are bleak, as most the Gaza’s population is starving under siege, with Israel persistently blocking aid into Gaza, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Last week, more than fifty international rights groups called for an official declaration of famine in Gaza, citing Israel’s deliberate use of starvation as a weapon, which constitutes a crime against humanity. Israel continues to ban medicine and food, particularly baby milk, from reaching the besieged strip. Children in Gaza are starving to death before their hopeless parents, dying at a terrifying pace. Nabil, a child with leukemia, was denied travel by Israel and left to die in his mother’s arms at the Rafah crossing.

The destruction inflicted on Gaza by Israel, with the aid of US bombs, has no precedent in human history.

So far, Israel has killed more than thirty-seven thousand Palestinians in Gaza, the majority of whom are children, with over ten thousand still buried under rubble. More than two million others have been displaced. According to Al Jazeera, Israel has occupied one-third of Gaza’s land to create a buffer zone and a central road dividing it, while massacring whole families and demolishing entire neighborhoods. The destruction inflicted on Gaza by Israel, with the aid of US bombs, has no precedent in human history.

Having annihilated Jabalia, Israeli forces are now pushing deeper into central Rafah, where nearly 1.5 million displaced Palestinians are taking shelter. Described by UNICEF officials as the “city of children,” Rafah was believed to be Gaza’s last refuge on earth before Israel invaded it last month, resulting in a horrific series of civilian massacres.

According to UNRWA, over one million Palestinians have fled Rafah since the Israeli invasion. A UN agency says that about 18,5000 pregnant women are fleeing in horror from Rafah’s “unrelenting nightmare.” Matthew Hollingworth, the Palestine director of the World Food Programme (WFP), has described Rafah as a place where “the sounds and smells of everyday life are horrific and apocalyptic.”

Monica Johnston, an American nurse who volunteered in Rafah, describes the small refugee town as a place swollen with traumatized children. One boy lost his hand and leg while trying to open a can of tuna, which turned out to be a booby trap left by Israeli soldiers. Another child, Omar, was forced to watch his father burn alive as Israel bombed their refugee tent in Rafah, joining over twenty-five thousand children who have been orphaned by Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza. Compounding the tragedy of Rafah, the Israeli army today ordered the evacuation of the American field hospital on the Rafah beach. The hospital, Rafah’s last functioning field hospital, ceased operating after IDF tanks besieged it. Additionally, according to World Health Organization (WHO) office in Palestine, Israel evacuated al-Helal al-Emirati Hospital last week, which was Rafah’s last functioning hospital.

Flouting Biden’s “Red Line”

Israel’s deepening invasion in Rafah makes a mockery of the Biden administration’s “red line” in Rafah, which has proven hollow and spineless. While Israeli leaders celebrate the invasion and the horrific massacres committed, the Biden administration remains in deep denial about the catastrophic event.

In its relentless attempt to downplay Israel’s atrocities in Gaza, the US government has gone as far as falsifying its own reports on Gaza. This deception aims to absolve Israel of responsibility for blocking humanitarian aid flows into the besieged strip. Such actions would trigger the obligation for the United States to cut arms sales to Israel under a clause in the Foreign Assistance Act.

Bipartisan leaders in the United States have invited Benjamin Netanyahu, a war criminal who may soon face an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court, to address Congress. This move further erodes the remaining dignity of the US political class, essentially rewarding Israel for war crimes in Gaza.

Emboldened by unwavering support from the United States, Israel continues to act with total impunity in Gaza, showing no sign of retreat. In a desperate attempt to save Israel from international isolation and salvage his reelection prospects, Joe Biden outlined a road map to a cease-fire in Gaza last Friday, albeit one that stops short of demanding a permanent cease-fire.

In response to Biden’s remarks, Israel intensified its assault, pounding Gaza and bombing and shelling Rafah mercilessly, culminating in at least ten massacres against civilians. Since Biden’s statement, over 160 Palestinians have been slaughtered by Israel. Meanwhile, the Biden administration continues to supply Israel with multibillion-dollar packages of arms shipments and massive bombs, which have inflicted death, injury, and displacement on generations of Palestinians in Gaza.

The haunting specter of Jabalia mass graves cast an indelible shadow over the conscience of humanity. As the Gaza genocide has entered its eighth month with no end in sight, Palestinians are plunged into the depths of despair. Without a genuine global intervention to rein in it, Israel’s unhinged barbarity in Gaza will continue unabated.

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