• The Israeli military said its Dec. 24 airstrikes on a refugee camp caused "unintended harm."
  • Two airstrikes hit seven buildings and killed at least 86 people.
  • This appears to be the IDF's first admission that it has used excessive force in its air war.

For seemingly the first time, Israel has said an attack in its air war that harmed civilians in Gaza went too far.

Israeli fighter jets launched attacks on a refugee camp in central Gaza on Sunday that killed at least 86 people, including women and children.

The Israeli military now says the bombing caused "unintended harm" to civilians.

The attacks struck the crowded Maghazi refugee camp, where thousands of displaced Palestinians gathered while fleeing Israel's ground and air war against Hamas. Associated Press journalists witnessed the immediate aftermath as survivors carried a dead baby and checked a bloodied girl for injuries.

Israel is carrying out intense bombardments of Gaza in the wake of Hamas' October 7 terrorist attacks that killed 1,200 people in Israel, some of whom were tortured and sexually assaulted.

The military's statements Thursday appear to be the first admission by the Israeli military that it had used excessive force in its air war — the leading cause of the 21,100 Palestinian deaths tallied so far by the Hamas-run Health Ministry during the war.

The UN reported that the Israeli strikes hit seven buildings in the refugee camp. The IDF said its forces were targeting Hamas operatives nearby and struck two targets.

"A preliminary investigation revealed that additional buildings located near the targets were also hit during the strikes, which likely caused unintended harm to additional uninvolved civilians," according to an IDF statement.

An unnamed Israeli military official told the Israeli public broadcaster KAN: "The type of munition did not match the nature of the attack, causing extensive collateral damage that could have been avoided."

An Israeli military official said its airstrikes caused widespread damage to the crowded Maghazi refugee center "that could have been avoided." Foto: Mahmud Hams/Getty Images

Israel's Western allies are becoming more and more critical of the bombing campaign, calling it "indiscriminate" and even saying it's at odds with Israel's long-term security by radicalizing more Palestinians.

Israel's relentless air attacks have repeatedly struck hospitals, schools, high-rises, and other essential infrastructure; Israel's military says the attacks target Hamas operatives and their extensive tunnel network.

Israel has used large or unguided bombs — certain to cause wide damage in crowded Gaza — in some of the attacks.

Researchers estimate that the damages are widespread; between 36% and 45% of all buildings in Gaza have been damaged.

Israel has struck other refugee centers in its pursuit of Hamas. A Wall Street Journal investigation published Thursday found that the Israeli military attacked the Jabalia refugee center on Oct. 31 without warning civilians. The attack used two of Israel's largest bombs.

The effort killed one Hamas battalion commander — and at least 126 civilians, more than half of whom were children.

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