Israel and Hamas at war, day 234 | Netanyahu calls Rafah strike a ‘tragic accident’

(Rafah) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Parliament on Monday that the Israeli strike on Rafah the day before was “a tragic accident”.


Posted at 7:27 a.m.

Updated at 2:09 p.m.

What there is to know

  • Israeli strike hits IDP camp in Rafah on Sunday;
  • The attack left at least 45 dead and nearly 250 injured;
  • The Palestinian Civil Defense reported numerous “charred” bodies in the fire caused at the Barkasat camp;
  • The bombing was denounced by many countries and organizations;
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the event as a “tragic incident”.

“In Rafah, we evacuated a million uninvolved residents and, despite all efforts, a tragic accident occurred yesterday,” Netanyahu said.

“We are investigating what happened and we will draw conclusions,” he added.

Israel faces a wave of international condemnation on Monday after a nighttime strike in Rafah, which left 45 dead, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, and set fire to tents occupied by Palestinians in a camp for displaced people.

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REUTERS PHOTO

The Palestinian Civil Defense reported numerous “charred” bodies in a fire that ravaged the Barkasat displaced persons camp.

For its part, the Israeli army said it was investigating the deaths of civilian victims. The day before, she had claimed to have targeted two senior Hamas officials using “precise munitions”, “legitimate targets” according to her.

The UN has “condemned Israeli strikes” and called for a “full and transparent” investigation after the attack in the crowded town of Rafah, where Israel launched ground operations on May 7 despite international warnings over the fate civilians.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, said he was “horrified”, citing “horrible images”.

“Upset”, Washington called on its Israeli ally to “take all precautions to protect civilians”.

“Influx of injured”

The Palestinian Civil Defense reported numerous “charred” bodies in a fire that ravaged the Barkasat displaced persons camp, managed by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), in the northwest of Rafah .

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INFOGRAPHIC SOPHIE RAMIS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A map of the southern Gaza Strip locating an UNRWA displaced persons camp northwest of Rafah

Mohammed al-Mughayyir, a Civil Defense official in the Gaza Strip, describes a “massacre”: “we saw charred, dismembered bodies […] cases of amputations, injured children, women and the elderly.”

Images from the Palestinian Red Crescent, according to which the location targeted by the strike had been designated by Israel “as a humanitarian zone”, show scenes of chaos, ambulances with sirens blaring and rescuers in the middle of the night on a burning site , evacuating the injured, including children.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was receiving an “influx of injured people with burns” in one of its field hospitals.

AFP images in the early morning show the charred remains of makeshift tents and vehicles, with families seeing a blackened landscape around them.

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PHOTO JEHAD ALSHRAFI, ASSOCIATED PRESS

View of the Barkasat displaced persons camp

“They burned”

“The massacre in Rafah yesterday left 45 dead,” according to a report provided Monday by the Hamas Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip, which also reported “249 injured.”

“People were neither injured nor killed: they were burned,” laments Mohammad Hamad, 24.

“My cousin’s daughter, a child of no more than 13 years old, was one of the “martyrs”. His features were unrecognizable, because the shrapnel tore his face off,” he testifies.

“Our children were sleeping […], suddenly we heard a loud noise and there was fire all around us. The children were screaming. The noise was terrifying,” said a Palestinian woman, refusing to be identified.

The strike came a few hours after rocket attacks on Tel Aviv from Rafah, claimed by Hamas.

The Islamist movement, considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union in particular, denounced a “horrible massacre”. In the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Authority accused Israel of having “deliberately targeted” the Rafah camp.

For his part, French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “outraged”, and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, promised that his country would do “everything possible” to hold the “barbaric” Israeli authorities to account.

The head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said he was “horrified”, while Jordan considered that the Israeli strike in Rafah “defies the decisions of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The African Union, for its part, denounced a “contempt” for the judgment of the ICJ, the highest court of the UN, which ordered Israel on Friday to suspend its operations in Rafah, which grew in nearly three weeks, some 800,000 fled, according to the UN.

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PHOTO EYAD BABA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Palestinians gathered at the site of the Israeli strike on a displaced persons camp in Rafah on May 27.

A key mediator with Qatar and the United States in diplomatic efforts to achieve a ceasefire, Egypt condemned a “deliberate bombardment by Israeli forces on displaced people’s tents” in Rafah, calling on Israel to “put implement the measures decreed by the ICJ.

Qatar warned that Israeli strikes in Rafah could “complicate mediation efforts,” calling for “urgent action to prevent genocide.”

“Egregious” crimes

Saudi Arabia also condemned “the continuation of the massacres” and Kuwait denounced “blatant war crimes”.

The war was triggered by an attack carried out on October 7 on Israeli soil by Hamas commandos infiltrated from the Gaza Strip, resulting in the death of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count carried out in from official Israeli data.

That day, 252 people were taken as hostages into the Palestinian territory, of whom 121 are still being held in Gaza, including 37 who died, according to the army.

The retaliation by Israel, which says it wants to destroy Hamas, has left at least 36,050 dead in the Gaza Strip, mainly civilians, according to the Health Ministry of the Hamas administration in the Palestinian territory.

Pressure is mounting on Israel and the UN is warning of imminent famine in the besieged Gaza Strip, where most hospitals are no longer functioning.

“”I’m not giving up and I won’t give up! I resist national and international pressure,” the Israeli Prime Minister said on Monday in front of hostage families.

On Tuesday, Spain, Norway and Ireland will recognize the State of Palestine, an announcement made last week which angered Israel.

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