BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei’s foreign ministry on Wednesday condemned the deadly bombing of the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, an attack the United Nations said could amount to war crimes.

“Brunei Darussalam strongly condemns the continued violence in Gaza, including the recent bombing of the Jabalia refugee camp, that has already taken a heavy toll with civilian casualties, especially women, children and elderly,” the ministry said.

At least 195 Palestinians were killed in two rounds of Israeli air strikes on Jabalia camp on Tuesday and Wednesday, Gaza’s government media office said.

The United Nations Human Rights Office said given the scale of destruction and high number of civilian casualties following the strikes, it has “serious concerns that these are disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes”.

Jabalia camp is one of the most crowded corners of Gaza, covering 1.4 sq km with a population of more than 110,000 people. Many people had been sheltering there since war broke out between Israel and Hamas on October 7.

As Palestinians sifted through rubble in a desperate hunt for trapped victims, the Israeli military defended the bombing, saying it targeted an underground Hamas complex in Jabalia.

“Hamas deliberately builds its terror infrastructure under, around and within civilian buildings, intentionally endangering Gazan civilians,” an Israeli statement said.

Two senior Hamas commanders — who the military believes played a pivotal role in Hamas’ attack on southern Israel — were reportedly killed in the strike. The October 7 attack on Israel killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and 240 were taken hostage.

In retaliation, Israel began an unrelenting campaign of air and artillery strikes in the Gaza Strip which has killed 8,796 Palestinians, including more than 3,648 children. Israel has also severely restricted Gazans’ access to water, electricity, food and fuel for the strip’s 2.3 million residents, causing a dire humanitarian crisis.

UNGA calls for ceasefire, while US rejects resolution

Last Friday, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas and demanding access for humanitarian aid to reach Gaza.

Brunei, which co-sponsored the tabling of the resolution, was one of 120 countries that voted for the ceasefire. Fourteen countries voted against the resolution including Israel and the United States, while 45 others abstained. Among the notable abstentions were the UK, Australia, Germany, Canada, India, South Korea and Japan.

“The resolution, strongly supported by a majority of the international community, calls for an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities,” Brunei’s foreign ministry said yesterday.

“It is a clear recognition by the international community of the catastrophic humanitarian situation that is continuing to worsen due to the Occupying Power’s aggression in Gaza.”

The sultanate said it co-sponsored the resolution in line with its “resolute commitment” to the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination.

Brunei recognises Palestine as a nation-state but does not recoginse Israel. However, the sultanate has continually supported a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders.