Outrage after 45 reportedly killed in Israeli strike near Rafah


The Hamas-run health authority in Gaza on Monday said 45 people were killed and dozens injured in an Israeli airstrike that hit tents housing displaced people near the southern city of Rafah.

Most of the victims of the airstrike were women and children, the health authority said, describing the incident as a “massacre.”

The information could not initially be independently verified, but the Palestinian Red Crescent earlier said on the social media platform X that there were “numerous” people killed and injured in the bombardment north-west of Rafah.

The incident has sparked international horror and outrage.

Meanwhile, an exchange of fire between Israeli and Egyptian troops near the border to the Gaza Strip also caused new concerns that the Gaza war could escalate.

An Egyptian soldier was killed, an Egyptian military spokesman confirmed on Monday.

It is the first publicly known fatality in the ranks of the Egyptian military since the start of the Gaza war almost eight months ago. Israel’s army confirmed an exchange of fire.

The Israeli military said the incident is being investigated and that talks are being held with Egypt.

The situation at the Rafah border crossing has become increasingly tense. Israeli troops recently took control of the crossing on the Palestinian side as well as a border strip between Egypt and Gaza.

Aid organizations report dozens dead in Israeli strike

The Palestinian Red Crescent said that the air raid hit a designated humanitarian zone for those who had been forced to evacuate Rafah due to the Israeli fighting.

Footage from the scene showed the makeshift shelters on fire. It was not clear how many people were trapped or under the debris.

The aid organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported that a medical facility it supports in the area treated dozens of wounded, while more than 15 dead people were brought to their trauma stabilization point.

“We are horrified by this deadly event, which shows once again that nowhere is safe. We continue to call for an immediate and sustained ceasefire in Gaza,” MSF said on X.

Israel investigates incident

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said via X that two senior Hamas officials were killed in the airstrike.

“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’ use of the area,” the IDF said in a statement.

“The IDF 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,” the statement added.

The strike came just days after the International Court of Justice in The Hague ordered Israel to halt its assault on Rafah.

Israel’s top military lawyer on Monday described the incident as “very serious.”

“It is in the nature of things that serious incidents happen in a war of this scope and intensity,” Major General Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi said at a legal conference in the southern Israeli port city of Eilat on Monday.

“Some of the incidents – like the one yesterday in Rafah – are very serious.” Israel’s army always regrets when innocent bystanders are harmed, she said.

Arab countries react angrily

Several Arab countries on Monday condemned the Israeli airstrike.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said the “deliberate bombing of displaced people’s tents in the Palestinian city of Rafah” was a “new and blatant violation of the provisions of international law.”

Qatar also condemned the attack as a “grave violation of international laws that will aggravate the humanitarian crisis in the besieged Strip.”

The Qatari Foreign Ministry expressed concern that the latest strike would complicate ongoing mediation efforts and obstruct a permanent ceasefire agreement in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas later confirmed to dpa that it was suspending ceasefire negotiations which were expected to restart this week.

In separate statements, Jordan and Kuwait condemned “war crimes” committed by Israel in Gaza and urged the international community to compel Israel to adhere to the ICJ ruling on Rafah.

Germany calls strike “amistake”

German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit on Monday said the airstrike was presumably “a mistake” and again defended Israel’s “right to defend itself within the framework of international law.”

Asked about allegations of Israeli war crimes in Gaza, Hebestreit said that the German government would withhold judgement.

“The conclusion as to whether this is a war crime in terms of international law is something that must be left to lawyers who know the exact facts,” Hebestreit said in Berlin.

If there is evidence of such a crime, the German government would certainly condemn it, Hebestreit said.

But he warned that such conclusions cannot be drawn from gruesome photos of the aftermath of the strike, and noted recent rockets launched from Rafah toward Tel Aviv.

“First investigate what exactly happened and then make a judgement. And don’t make an immediate judgement based on pictures,” Hebestreit said.

Macron condemns Israeli airstrike in Rafah

French President Emmanuel Macron, in Germany for a three-day state visit, reacted much more strongly, calling for an immediate ceasefire and full compliance with international law.

“These operations must stop,” wrote an “outraged” Macron on X. “There are no safe zones for Palestinian civilians in Rafah.”

The war in Gaza was triggered by the massacre of more than 1,200 people by terrorists from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and other militants on October 7.

Israel responded with massive airstrikes and a ground offensive. International criticism of Israel has grown as the death toll among Palestinians has increased. It currently stands at over 35,000 people killed, according to Hamas authorities in Gaza.

Palestinians inspect their destroyed tents after an Israeli air strike, which resulted in numerous deaths and  injuries, in the Al-Mawasi area, which was bombed with a number of missiles on the tents of displaced people west of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Abed Rahim Khatib/dpa

Palestinians inspect their destroyed tents after an Israeli air strike, which resulted in numerous deaths and injuries, in the Al-Mawasi area, which was bombed with a number of missiles on the tents of displaced people west of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Abed Rahim Khatib/dpa

Palestinians inspect their destroyed tents after an Israeli air strike, which resulted in numerous deaths and  injuries, in the Al-Mawasi area, which was bombed with a number of missiles on the tents of displaced people west of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Abed Rahim Khatib/dpaPalestinians inspect their destroyed tents after an Israeli air strike, which resulted in numerous deaths and  injuries, in the Al-Mawasi area, which was bombed with a number of missiles on the tents of displaced people west of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Abed Rahim Khatib/dpa

Palestinians inspect their destroyed tents after an Israeli air strike, which resulted in numerous deaths and injuries, in the Al-Mawasi area, which was bombed with a number of missiles on the tents of displaced people west of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Abed Rahim Khatib/dpa



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