Rafah Mass Casualty Strike Does Not Cross Biden's 'Red Line'

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, May 28, 2024 - 10:13 PM

Update(1813ET): Who could have seen this coming?

The White House on Tuesday indicated an Israeli strike that killed dozens of Palestinians in Rafah did not cross a “red line” that would lead to a change in U.S. policy.

Multiple administration officials in press briefings Tuesday described the images out of Rafah as “heartbreaking,” “tragic” and “horrific.” But there was no sign of an impending policy change as a result, because it was an airstrike and not a major ground operation. The Hill

Does anyone believe this administration after for months talking out of both sides of its mouth? On the one hand it seeks to present itself as 'tough' on Israel, withholding a single ammo/weapons shipment (in a largely symbolic move), but on the other can't bring itself to condemn a strike which resulted in an outright civilian massacre which included women and children being incinerated as they slept in a refugee tent encampment.

And we are told that the Israelis will 'investigate' themselves...

"We still don’t believe that a major ground operation in Rafah is warranted. We still don’t want to see the Israelis, as we say, smash into Rafah with large units over large pieces of territory. We still believe that, and we haven’t seen that at this point," White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

"As a result of this strike on Sunday, I have no policy changes to speak to,” he added in reference to the attack which killed 45 Palestinians. "It just happened. The Israelis are going to investigate it. We’re going to be taking great interest in what they find in that investigation. And we’ll see where it goes from there." Sure...

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Israeli tanks have reached the heart of Rafah overnight amid continual heavy bombardment and shelling. Local eyewitnesses say they've reached a roundabout in the center of the city which forms a key landmark.

Images and footages to emerge Tuesday have confirmed the advance of tank columns and IDF infantry deep into Rafah, which has sent thousands more displaced Palestinians fleeing from the Western half of the city, where the most intense fighting is happening. 

Additionally BBC has observed of IDF tanks that overnight "they also seized control of the highest hilltop along the Gaza-Egypt border after reported gun battles with Hamas-led fighters."

Al Jazeera still frame of IDF tank in center of Rafah.

Airstrikes have continued to increase in intensity on the Western outskirts, especially on the al-Faluja area which lies west of Jabalia camp.

Following the Sunday bombing of a refugee tent camp in a designated safe zone which reportedly killed 45 people, there are emerging reports of another catastrophic air raid:

The air raid targeted al-Mawasi in western Rafah, an area where tents have been set up to house displaced Palestinians. It is also a designated humanitarian area to which Israeli authorities told Palestinians to flee.

"Among them are 13 females were killed. Israeli forces targeted another makeshift tent [area] where most of the people were women and children," Al Jazeera’s Hind Khoudary said, reporting from Deir el-Balah.

Pressure out of Europe in particular is growing, amid ongoing EU discussions over possible sanctions against Israel and after last week's ICJ (World Court) call for immediate ceasefire, but so far the Netanyahu government is defiantly pushing forward its anti-Hamas operation.

Hamas has issued a statement meanwhile, as tanks plunge deeper into Rafah, calling on the UN Security Council to take "practical and immediate measures" to halt the invasion of Rafah city.

The statement said that the southernmost major city in Gaza "is being subjected to indiscriminate barbaric Zionist bombing, affecting homes and tents of displaced people in various parts of the city."

"The UN Security Council is required to fulfill its legal and moral responsibilities in the face of the criminal Zionist entity’s disregard for the decision of the International Court of Justice, which ordered an immediate halt to the aggression against the city," the Hamas statement added.

This comes a day after the White House appeared to justify Sunday's Israeli attack on the refugee encampment. A Biden national security spokesperson told CNN on Monday, "The devastating images following the IDF strike in Rafah last night that killed dozens of innocent Palestinians are heartbreaking."

"Israel has a right to go after Hamas, and we understand this strike killed two senior Hamas terrorists who are responsible for attacks against Israeli civilians," the statement said. Axios has since reported:

The Biden administration is still assessing whether an Israeli strike that killed at least 45 displaced Palestinians at a tent camp in Rafah on Sunday is a violation of President Biden's "red line," two U.S. officials told Axios.

So far the administration has stalled some ammo shipments, even while approving more massive defense aid packages and funding for Israel, in a largely symbolic move meant more for deflecting criticisms from Progressive Democrats.