HRW urges social media users to report censorship amid Gaza war

LONDON: Israel bombed areas in Gaza to which the Israel Defense Forces had previously ordered Palestinian civilians to evacuate, an analysis carried out by BBC Verify found.

Upon receiving warnings from the Israeli forces of plans to bomb northern Gaza after the military campaign began on Oct. 7, hundreds of thousands of Gazans fled to the south, which came under relentless Israeli bombardment.

On Oct. 13, the UN voiced concerns that nowhere in Gaza was safe for civilians.

In a report published on Tuesday, BBC Verify, in collaboration with BBC Arabic, identified and analyzed four instances of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. These included the bombing of Khan Younis on Oct. 10 and 19, Rafah on Oct. 11, and camps in central Gaza on Oct. 17, 18, and 25.

The warnings issued to Gazan neighborhoods provided maps pointing to “vague” destinations for residents to move to, according to the report. Three of the analyzed strikes “hit within, or close to, those areas” a few days after the evacuation orders.

The BBC verified the location of the Khan Younis strike of Oct. 10 using visual clues, such as the minaret of the Grand Mosque, in addition to photos of destroyed buildings and people picking through rubble.

The network’s assessment unit also employed “reverse image search” to make sure the photos were not taken during a previous attack.

On the morning of Oct. 8, the IDF warned through X (formerly Twitter) that the residents of Abasan Al-Kabira and Abasan Al-Saghira neighborhoods in Khan Younis should move to the “city center” for their safety. After around two days, the IDF struck central Khan Younis.

The same warning also instructed the residents of Rafah to take shelter in Rafah city center for their “safety.” On Oct. 11, Israeli fighter jets bombed Nejmeh Square in central Rafah. The BBC verified this by studying a video of the aftermath as well as photos taken before the strike.

Another attack on Khan Younis targeted Gamal Abdel Nasser Street on Oct. 19, less than three days after the IDF warned people in Gaza City to move to Khan Younis, claiming it was for their “safety” and that of their loved ones.

Airstrikes on three refugee camps in the Strip also came after the IDF’s warning on Oct. 8 instructed people in the eastern and southern Maghazi area to move to camps in central Gaza.

The BBC verified that there were no camps in the location specified on the tweet’s map but identified three nearby ones: Al-Nuseirat, Al-Bureij, and Deir Al-Balah. All three camps were bombed on Oct. 17 and 18.

On Oct. 25, Al-Nuseirat camp suffered another strike that killed the son of Al Jazeera’s chief Gaza correspondent Wael al-Dahdouh, who moved with his family from the north following Israel’s warning.

The BBC said in the report it could not rule out the possibility that there were subsequent different instructions, “but the BBC has not found any evidence of this.”

The BBC asked the IDF if it had targeted the provided locations on these specific dates and if any advance warnings were issued before the attacks, but the IDF said it “cannot provide any further information regarding these specific locations.”

It added that it had “called on civilians in Gaza to move south for their safety,” and that it “will continue striking terrorist targets in all parts of Gaza.”

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