Facing Global Outrage, Netanyahu Calls Civilian Deaths in Rafah Strike ‘Tragic Accident’

Facing Global Outrage, Netanyahu Calls Civilian Deaths in Rafah Strike ‘Tragic Accident’

With worldwide condemnation mounting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel mentioned on Monday that the killing of dozens of individuals a day earlier at a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah was “a tragic accident,” however gave no signal of curbing the Israeli offensive within the southern Gaza metropolis.

The lethal fireplace that tore by way of the encampment on Sunday after an airstrike got here at a very delicate time for Israel, simply days after the International Court of Justice appeared to order the nation’s navy to halt its offensive in Rafah and as diplomats had been aiming to restart negotiations for a cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas.

The Israel navy mentioned that the goal of the strike in Rafah on Sunday was a Hamas compound, and that “exact munitions” had been used to focus on a commander and one other senior militant official there.

But at the least 45 individuals, together with kids, had been killed by the blast and by the fires it set off, in line with the Gaza well being ministry. The ministry mentioned that 249 individuals had been wounded.

In a speech to the Israeli Parliament on Monday, Mr. Netanyahu mentioned the navy had sought to guard noncombatants, by issuing evacuation orders, including that about 1,000,000 civilians had left Rafah forward of, or throughout, the offensive. “Despite our supreme effort to not hurt uninvolved civilians,” he mentioned, “a tragic accident occurred to our remorse final evening.”

He accused Hamas of hiding among the many common inhabitants, and mentioned: “For us, each uninvolved civilian who’s harm is a tragedy. For Hamas it’s a technique. That’s the entire distinction.”

As pictures of the dead and maimed reached screens around the globe, the condemnation was immediate. The newest opprobrium appeared prone to make it nonetheless more durable for Israel to proceed its marketing campaign in opposition to Hamas in Rafah, the southern metropolis to which about 1,000,000 displaced Gazans have fled.

On Monday, one Israeli ally, President Emmanuel Macron of France, mentioned he was “outraged” by the airstrike in Rafah and declared that these operations “should cease.” He known as “for full respect for worldwide regulation and an instantaneous cease-fire.”

The Israeli authorities, which invaded the Gaza Strip after a Hamas-led assault from there killed some 1,200 individuals in Israel, argues that it has no alternative however to maneuver into Rafah if it needs to wipe out the militants. The metropolis, the Israelis say, is a stronghold from which Hamas fighters earlier on Sunday fired rockets deep into central Israel for the primary time in months.

But with Rafah harboring displaced Gazans compelled into the town by earlier combating within the north, world leaders have warned of the risks of a significant navy operation there.

The deaths on Sunday seemed to be exactly what these urging Israel to tread rigorously had nervous about.

Bilal al-Sapti, 30, a building employee in Rafah, mentioned he had seen charred our bodies within the wreckage of the camp and heard individuals screaming as firefighters tried to place out the flames. “The fireplace was very robust and was everywhere in the camp,” he mentioned.

Dr. Marwan al-Hams, who was on the Tal Al Sultan Health Center, the place most of the casualties first arrived, mentioned {that a} majority of the dead and injured he had seen had been girls and youngsters. “Many of the dead our bodies had been severely burned, had amputated limbs and had been torn to items,” he mentioned.

Hamas, in a press release, described the Israeli strike on Rafah as “a horrific conflict crime” and demanded the “quick and pressing implementation” of the World Court’s determination. The group didn’t check with the Israeli navy’s assertions that two Hamas officers had been killed within the strike.

The Israeli navy mentioned it had taken quite a lot of steps earlier than the strike to scale back the chance of hurt to civilians, together with conducting aerial surveillance and utilizing munitions characterised as exact. “Based on these measures, it was assessed that there could be no anticipated hurt to uninvolved civilians,” it mentioned.

But an Israeli official, talking on the situation of anonymity to debate a delicate matter, mentioned on Monday that an preliminary investigation by the navy had concluded that the strike, or shrapnel from it, could have unexpectedly ignited a flammable substance on the camp. Eyewitnesses described intense fires within the aftermath of the strike.

Military drone footage of the assault reviewed by The New York Times confirmed the munition hanging an space containing a number of massive cabinlike constructions and parked vehicles.

Two Israeli officers mentioned that the strike had taken place exterior of a chosen humanitarian zone created to supply secure refuge to evacuees. The officers produced a map displaying what it mentioned was the placement of the strike in relation to the zone.

The navy recognized the 2 targets of the strike because the commander of Hamas’s management within the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Yassin Rabi, and a senior official in the identical wing of the group, Khaled Nagar.

In an ambiguously worded order, the International Court of Justice, an arm of the United Nations which is listening to arguments pertaining to accusations that Israel has dedicated genocide in Gaza, known as on Israel to instantly halt any actions in Rafah that “could inflict upon the Palestinian group in Gaza circumstances of life that will result in its bodily destruction in complete or partly.”

Israeli officers have argued that the 13-2 ruling allowed it to proceed combating in Rafah as a result of it could not inflict such genocidal circumstances. But a few of Israel’s allies don’t view the order that means. Even earlier than the newest civilian deaths, Germany’s vice chancellor, Robert Habeck, mentioned the offensive in Rafah was “incompatible with worldwide regulation.”

Late Sunday, Israel’s conflict cupboard met to debate the persevering with efforts to succeed in a cease-fire deal that will result in freedom for the hostages seized throughout the Oct. 7 assaults, in line with an Israeli official who spoke on the situation of anonymity given the sensitivity of the talks.

Diplomats are aiming to restart negotiations in some unspecified time in the future within the subsequent week, in line with three officers briefed on the method. According to the officers, preliminary discussions had been held this weekend in Paris.

Reporting was contributed by Hiba Yazbek, Abu Bakr Bashir, Iyad Abuheweila, Patrick Kingsley, Myra Noveck and Johnatan Reiss.


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