Photo and Footage Analysis: Rafah Strike

Dozens of casualties were reported yesterday at an IDP camp in northern Rafah following Israeli airstrikes in the area on Sunday, May 26.

Palestinian officials have accused Israel of directly striking the camp, causing a large fire that resulted in the majority of the casualties, which the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry has put as at least 45.

The IDF has stated that it carried out a precision strike against a Hamas compound, killing two Hamas leaders whose deaths were later confirmed by Hamas or Hamas-affiliated media.

The IDF also added that it is aware of “reports indicating that as a result of the strike and fire that was ignited, several civilians in the area were harmed.”

The strike came just hours after Hamas claimed responsibility for a rocket barrage against Israel.

Footage of the Fire

Footage of the fire showed a section of the camp camp engulfed in flames, with civilians and first responders pulling out bodies as they attempted to combat the blaze.

Geolocation of Strike

The strike was geolocated to a known internally displaced person (IDP) camp, identified as “Kuwait Peace Camp 1,” located directly north of the largest United Nations warehouse in the Gaza Strip.

Camp coordinates: 31.320420060826017, 34.2514704200933

Photos published by Anadolu from this morning allowed for accurate geolocation when compared against satellite imagery of the camp from May 24 by Planet Labs.

(Photo – Reuters)

Additionally, a banner for the “Kuwait Peace Camp” seen in a photo from the fire last night matches the same banner seen in the morning amongst the rubble.

IDF Statements

Within the first few hours of the strike, the IDF released a statement saying that an Israeli aircraft “struck a Hamas compound in Rafah in which significant Hamas terrorists were operating a short while ago. The strike was carried out against legitimate targets under international law, through the use of precise munitions and on the basis of precise intelligence that indicated Hamas’ use of the area.”

“The IDF is aware of reports indicating that as a result of the strike and fire that was ignited several civilians in the area were harmed. The incident is under review,” the statement added.

An hour later, the IDF released a second statement stating that the strike killed two key Hamas leaders:

  • Yassin Rabia, the head of Hamas’ West Bank Command
  • Khaled Najjar, a senior leader within Hamas’ West Bank Command
    • Was captured by Israeli forces in 2003 , but later released during the 2011 Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange
    • Three children with the last name Najjar have been identified amongst the death, suggesting possible family members

Rabia’s death was confirmed by Hamas through the release of a martyr poster. Hamas-affiliated media have also reported Najjar’s death, although some claim he was only injured.

A third statement was released on Monday, where the IDF reiterated that its forces carried out “an intelligence-based precise strike that targeted senior Hamas terrorists in Tal as Sultan.”

The statement went on to add that “Contrary to Hamas’ lies and misinformation, the strike did not take place in the Al-Mawasi Humanitarian Area” and showed a map with the strike area pinned.

The location provided on the map matches the area where the strike was geolocated to.

 

Weapon Used

Reference photo via Smithsonian

Footage from within the camp posted by Palestinian activist Hamza al-Masry shows debris consistent with the tail actuator section of a United States-made GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SBDs). Israel purchased 1,000 SBDs from the United States in 2021 for $735 million, with deliveries of the weapons being expedited following the events of October 7.

The GBU-39 carries a 250 lb. payload meant for precision strikes with the reduced probability of collateral damage.

Conclusion

Based on the GBU-39 fragments and geolocation of the fire, it can be concluded that an Israeli airstrike was carried out against the IDP camp itself. The confirmation of the deaths of Rabia and Najjar also highlights Hamas operating out of the camp.

Both of these combined suggests that Israel knowingly carried out a strike targeting Rabia and Najjar within the IDP camp. A GBU-39 was used in an attempt to potentially reduce collateral damage and that the fire was likely an untended consequence of the strike.

This conclusion appears to be backed by a statement made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Knesset on Monday, where he stated “Despite our best effort, not to harm those not involved, unfortunately a tragic mistake happened last night. We are investigating the case.”

Atlas
Atlashttp://theatlasnews.co
Unbiased & Unfiltered News Reporting for 12+ years. Covering Geo-Political conflicts, wartime events, and vital Breaking News from around the world. Editor-In-Chief of Atlas News.

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