Global Outrage After Deadly Israeli Strike On Refugee Tent Camp In Rafah

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, May 27, 2024 - 05:00 PM

There have been widespread reports of a civilian massacre following a Sunday Israeli air strike on a camp for displaced Palestinians in the besieged southern city of Rafah, which the Gaza Health Ministry says killed 45 people, including women and children.

Israel says it is investigating the strike, amid widespread international condemnation and as horrific videos of the attack aftermath circulate widely, with Israel’s top military prosecutor calling the attack "very grave".

Major-General Yifat Tomer Yerushalmi said in a briefing the Israeli army "regrets any harm to non-combatants during the war" and that "The details of the incident are still under an investigation, which we are committed to conducting to the fullest extent."

Fire rages after the airstrike, via Al Jazeera

The targeted area of the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood had been a recognized UN-run "safe zone" which lies about 2km to the northwest of the Rafah city center.

Incredibly graphic and disturbing social media videos show people burning in tents and rescuers carrying mangled and burned children's bodies. According to an eyewitness description:

Mohammad al-Mughayyir, a senior official at the civil defense agency, told AFP that at least 40 Palestinians were killed and at least 65 wounded in the Israeli strikes.

"We saw charred bodies and dismembered limbs… We also saw cases of amputations, wounded children, women and the elderly," Mughayyir said. Eyewitnesses told Reuters that tents were "melting" after the bombardment, burning people alive. 

The Israeli strikes followed a rare Hamas rocket launch on Tel Aviv earlier the same day, which included at least eight projectiles, most of which were intercepted.

An international humanitarian organization, ActionAid, said it was "outraged and heartbroken" that the strike hit a tent area to a UNRWQ warehouses stocking "vital aid."

"The images coming from our partners of burned bodies are a scar on the face of humanity and the global community, which so far has failed to protect the people of Gaza. One of our own ActionAid colleagues narrowly escaped this atrocity, having left the shelter just a day before the attack," ActionAid said.

A Hamas statement called it a "massacre" and said the group also holds the United States responsible as it supplies Israel's military with weaponry.

The Palestinian Authority's (PA) Mahmoud Abbas charged Israel with deliberately targeting civilians. "The perpetration of this heinous massacre by the Israeli occupation forces is a challenge to all international legitimacy resolutions." He alleged the IDF was "deliberately targeting" refugee tents.

The high casualty event has elicited statements of condemnation from leaders across the Middle East and Europe, as well as from some Democratic Congressional members in the US. This has included EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell who demanded that the ICJ call for immediate ceasefire must be adhered to.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock's words were especially strong. "No Israeli hostage will be freed if more people now have to shelter in tents," Baerbock said. "International humanitarian law applies for all, also for Israel's conduct of the war," she added.

Against this avalanche of criticism, also at a moment of investigations and legal actions by both the International Criminal Court (ICC) and UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) - both accusing the Israeli side of genocide - the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have pushed back, saying Hamas militants were in the area that was hit Sunday.

"The strike was carried out against legitimate targets under international law, through the use of precise munitions and on the basis of precise intelligence that indicated Hamas’s use of the area," the IDF said. "The IDF [Israeli army] is aware of reports indicating that, as a result of the strike and fire that was ignited, several civilians in the area were harmed. The incident is under review."