Desperate Palestinians were using their bare hands Tuesday to retrieve bodies buried in the ruins of a Gaza refugee camp moments after it was hit by an airstrike that reduced more than a dozen buildings to rubble, killed dozens and wounded hundreds of people, according to local health officials.
The Israeli military said its attack on the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza killed senior Hamas commander Ibrahim Biari, who they said was an architect of the Oct. 7 terror attack that left more than 1,400 people dead in Israel across kibbutzim, at a music festival and throughout in the nation's south, with hundreds more taken hostage.
"Tonight we eliminated the murderous terrorist Ibrahim Biari," IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said.
Biari was the commander of Hamas’ Central Jabaliya Battalion and he was targeted as part of a wide-scale “strike on terrorists and terror infrastructure,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
"During his assassination, many terrorists were killed, terrorists who stayed with him in Mena and in the underground area of the building," Hagari said.
Hamas has denied that any of its leadership was in Jabalia at the time of the strike, which they said destroyed at least 20 homes.
NBC News has not independently verified Biari’s death.
Footage of the aftermath of the attack showed hundreds of anguished people clambering in and out of what appears to be several giant craters and struggling to find buried victims.
"My three kids are gone, my kids, no one is alive," one despondent man named Jabar could be heard saying as his friends tried to console him.
Dr. Atef Al-Kahlot, director of the nearby Indonesian Hospital, said the total number of people wounded and killed is about 400.
"We are still searching for missing persons and carrying out rescue operations from under the rubble in Jabalia," Al-Kahlot said at a press conference.
Mohammad Al-Khatib, who lives in the Beit Lahia project, next to the Indonesian Hospital, said that after they heard the bombs, then ambulances and private cars trying to rescue people, he and others rushed to the hospital.
“Oh God! The things we found!” he said.
“We found people reducing the wounded and the martyred and taking them to the hospital. … The problem is that there’s no empty spaces in the hospital. The people and the wounded are lying on the floor.”
“There were martyrs on the floor, wounded people on the floor," he continued. "Hundreds of wounded and martyrs. …They burnt people while they were in their homes. They destroyed the entire camp. Children lying on the floor. They were all dead.”
The governments of Qatar and Jordan quickly condemned the deadly attack on the refugee camp.
More than 1 million people have been displaced by the fighting in Gaza and Palestinian health officials say more than 8,500 people have been killed. The death toll is likely to climb, officials have warned, as the Israeli ground offensive against Hamas gets underway.
Despite repeated orders from the IDF to evacuate from northern Gaza, where most of the early fighting is expected to take place, thousands of Palestinians unable to head south towards the Egyptian border have either stayed put in their homes or sought shelter in local hospitals.
Hamas' military wing said it would release some hostages “in the coming days,” but Israel’s national security adviser, Tzahi Hanegbi, poured cold water on that saying there’s no “hostage deal in sight."
"The end of the war is not close" because Hamas must first cease to exist, Hanegbi said.
Meanwhile, the state of Israel was bracing for more funerals as the number of IDF soldiers killed in action climbed by two Tuesday to 317.