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News · 28 May 2024

Netanyahu Labels Rafah Strike a “Tragic Mishap” Amid International Condemnation


					Netanyahu Labels Rafah Strike a “Tragic Mishap” Amid International Condemnation Perbesar

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the deadly airstrike in Rafah, which killed scores of displaced Palestinians on Sunday, as a “tragic mishap,” amidst escalating international criticism.

The Hamas-run health ministry reported at least 45 fatalities, with hundreds more suffering severe burns, fractures, and shrapnel wounds. Addressing the Israeli parliament, Netanyahu emphasized the importance of taking “every precaution possible” to safeguard civilians in Gaza. He maintained that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) exert their “best efforts not to harm those uninvolved” and pledged to continue the fight against Hamas.

“I don’t intend to end the war before every goal has been achieved,” Netanyahu declared, despite interruptions from family members of hostages taken by Hamas during the October 7 attack in southern Israel. Some relatives have criticized Netanyahu for not securing their loved ones’ release.

“In Rafah, we evacuated about one million non-combatant residents. Despite our utmost efforts, something unfortunately went tragically wrong,” Netanyahu stated. “We are investigating the incident and will reach conclusions because this is our policy.”

International organizations have condemned the strike. The European Union demanded that Israel respect an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling to halt strikes on Rafah, with EU diplomat Josep Borrell calling Sunday’s strike “horrifying.” The United Nations’ human rights chief, Volker Turk, criticized the attack, indicating “no apparent change” in Israeli warfare methods despite significant civilian casualties.

The strike occurred shortly after Hamas launched its first missile attack on Tel Aviv in months. IDF officials confirmed the strike killed two senior Hamas commanders and announced an investigation into the civilian deaths. However, the Palestinian Red Crescent claimed the airstrike targeted tents for displaced people near a UN facility in Tal al-Sultan, approximately 2 kilometers northwest of central Rafah. Videos from the scene showed a large explosion and intense fires, with graphic footage revealing multiple structures ablaze and bodies being carried by first responders.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported that its facilities received at least 28 deceased individuals, including women and children, following the strike. MSF treated another 180 wounded Palestinians, most with serious shrapnel wounds, fractures, and burns. The organization dismissed Israeli claims of precision, stating the attack on a populated camp in a designated ‘safe zone’ exhibited a blatant disregard for civilian lives.

The U.S. termed the images “heartbreaking” but reiterated Israel’s right to self-defense. “Israel has a right to go after Hamas, and we understand this strike killed two senior Hamas terrorists,” a White House national security spokesperson stated, adding that “Israel must take every precaution possible to protect civilians.”

Israeli officials spent Monday investigating the incident, questioning how a “precision strike” with “reduced warheads” could result in such devastation. Under pressure following the ICJ’s ruling to halt operations in Rafah that might harm civilians, Israel’s explanations are highly anticipated. The IDF’s advocate general, Maj. Gen. Yifat Tomer Yerushalmi, promised a thorough investigation.

Despite the tragedy, Netanyahu remains resolute in his commitment to achieving “total victory” in Rafah. Israeli ground forces continue to advance cautiously toward Rafah city, aiming to avoid further civilian casualties. However, Sunday’s airstrike has severely impacted Israel’s international standing, raising doubts about the legitimacy of its ongoing military campaign.

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