‘This can no longer be justified’: Anger over Rafah attack piles more pressure on Israel

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‘This can no longer be justified’: Anger over Rafah attack piles more pressure on Israel

A Palestinian child plays with the rubble after Israel bombs Palestinians’ tents and shelters in Rafah, Gaza on May 27, 2024. Israeli aircrafts bombed tents of displaced Palestinians living near the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) warehouses of Rafah and killed at least 30 Palestinians including children according to Gaza media office.

Hani Alshaer | Anadolu | Getty Images

Global leaders expressed shock and outrage over an Israeli military attack on the southern Gazan city of Rafah that killed more than 45 people, including children, on Sunday night in a tent camp for displaced Palestinian refugees.

The Israel Defense Force initially said it used “precise munitions” and “intelligence” to target two senior Hamas leaders in the area. It added that it is now investigating the event, after news emerged that the strike started a fire that engulfed the camp, leaving destroyed shelters and charred bodily remains whose images flooded social media.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his anger in a post on the X social media platform, saying he was “outraged by the Israeli strikes that have killed many displaced persons in Rafah.”

“These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians,” Macron’s post read, adding: “I call for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire.”

Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said: “The Palestinian people are being squeezed without regard for the rights of innocent men, women and children who have nothing to do with Hamas”. He further stressed that “this can no longer be justified.”

The U.S., meanwhile, called the images coming out of the attack were “devastating” and “heartbreaking,” but refrained from demanding a stop to the Rafah operation.

“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,” a National Security Council spokesperson said, according to Reuters. “But as we’ve been clear, Israel must take every precaution possible to protect civilians.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the attack as a tragic error.

“In Rafah, we already evacuated about one million non-combatant residents and despite our utmost effort not to harm non-combatants, something unfortunately went tragically wrong,” he said in remarks to the Israeli parliament, amid angry shouting by opposition lawmakers, according to a translation by Reuters.

The attack comes two days after the International Court of Justice, the United Nations’ top court, asked Israel to “immediately halt” its military offensive in Rafah, citing the “disastrous” humanitarian situation.

The court does not have direct enforcement mechanisms for its orders. Just a day after the ICJ’s ruling, Israeli airstrikes hit parts of Rafah, and on Tuesday Israeli tanks reached Rafah’s city center, according to local witnesses cited by Reuters.

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