Netanyahu Admits "Tragic Mistake" In Rafah Strike, International Criticism Rises

Israel has encountered escalating international criticism regarding its conflict with Hamas, including from some of its closest allies like the United States, who have expressed outrage over civilian casualties. Despite facing scrutiny in top international courts, Israel maintains its adherence to international law. Recently, one such court demanded Israel to cease its offensive in Rafah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted on Monday to a “tragic mistake” following an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The strike ignited a fire in a tent camp where displaced Palestinians were sheltering, resulting in the deaths of at least 45 individuals, as reported by local officials.

Israel Facing International Criticism

Israel has encountered escalating international criticism regarding its conflict with Hamas, including from some of its closest allies like the United States, who have expressed outrage over civilian casualties. Despite facing scrutiny in top international courts, Israel maintains its adherence to international law. Recently, one such court demanded Israel to cease its offensive in Rafah.

Close Allies Condemn The Move

The attack on Rafah elicited a fresh wave of condemnation, including from some of Israel’s close allies.

“These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians. I call for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire,” French President Emmanuel Macron posted on X. Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto, in a TV interview, said such bombings are “spreading hatred, rooting hatred that will involve their children and grandchildren.”

Israel’s military initiated an inquiry into civilian casualties following its strike on a Hamas facility that resulted in the deaths of two senior militants. The attack on Sunday night, which seemed to be among the deadliest in the conflict, contributed to pushing the total Palestinian death toll above 36,000, as reported by the Gaza Health Ministry. This tally does not differentiate between combatants and civilians.

“Despite our utmost efforts not to harm innocent civilians, last night, there was a tragic mistake,” Netanyahu said Monday in an address to Israel’s parliament. “We are investigating the incident and will obtain a conclusion because this is our policy.”

Mohammed Abuassa, who hurried to the site in the northwestern Tel al-Sultan neighborhood, described how rescuers “pulled out people who were in an unbearable state.”

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“We pulled out children who were in pieces. We pulled out young and elderly people. The fire in the camp was unreal,” he added.

The Gaza Health Ministry and the Palestinian Red Crescent rescue service reported a death toll of at least 45 individuals. Among the deceased were confirmed to be at least 12 women, eight children, and three elderly adults. Additionally, three bodies were so severely burned that they could not be recognized.

In another development, Egypt’s military announced the death of one of its soldiers due to gunfire exchange in the Rafah area, though no additional details were provided. Israel confirmed communication with Egyptian authorities, and both parties declared ongoing investigations into the incident.

Rafah, situated at the southernmost tip of Gaza along the border with Egypt, had accommodated over a million individuals, roughly half of Gaza’s population, who were displaced from other areas of the territory. However, since Israel initiated what it termed a limited incursion earlier this month, most of them have fled once again. Presently, hundreds of thousands find themselves crammed into makeshift tent camps in and around the city, enduring dire living conditions.

Hamas Launches Attack On Israel

On Sunday, the militant group initiated a barrage of rockets from the city targeting densely populated areas in central Israel, prompting air raid sirens but resulting in no reported injuries.

How It Started

Hamas initiated the conflict with its attack on October 7, breaching into Israel, resulting in the deaths of approximately 1,200 individuals, primarily civilians, and the capture of about 250 hostages. Presently, Hamas still holds roughly 100 hostages and the remains of around 30 others, following the release of most captives during a ceasefire last year.

About 80% of Gaza’s population, totaling 2.3 million people, have been displaced from their homes. Severe hunger is widespread, and UN officials have warned of famine in certain parts of the territory.

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