Sunday, June 23, 2024
Sunday June 23, 2024
Sunday June 23, 2024

Netanyahu vows to continue war amid condemnation over Rafah air strike



International outrage over Israeli strike killing scores in Gaza as Netanyahu pledges ongoing campaign

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the war against Hamas amid widespread international condemnation following an air strike that killed at least 45 Palestinians in Rafah on Sunday. The Hamas-run health ministry reported that hundreds more were treated for severe burns, fractures, and shrapnel wounds.

Addressing the Israeli parliament, Netanyahu described the strike as a “tragic mishap” but emphasized, “I don’t intend to end the war before every goal has been achieved.” He insisted that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) took “every precaution possible” to protect civilians and maintained that the IDF was using its “best efforts not to harm those uninvolved” in the conflict.

The United Nations Security Council will convene an emergency meeting on Tuesday, requested by Algeria, to discuss the Rafah strike. UN Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the strike, stating it “killed scores of innocent civilians who were only seeking shelter from this deadly conflict.” Guterres added, “There is no safe place in Gaza. This horror must stop.”

During Netanyahu’s address, family members of hostages taken by Hamas during the October 7 attack occasionally heckled him, criticizing his failure to secure the return of their loved ones. Netanyahu reiterated that in Rafah, about one million non-combatants had been evacuated and that the IDF’s utmost efforts were made to avoid harming civilians.

Despite international outcry, including from the European Union and the UN’s human rights chief, Israel remains firm on its stance. EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, labelled the strike “horrifying,” and Volker Turk, the UN human rights chief, suggested the attack showed “no apparent change in the methods and means of warfare used by Israel that have already led to so many civilian deaths.”

The IDF claimed the Rafah attack targeted and killed two senior Hamas commanders. However, the Palestinian Red Crescent reported that the strike hit tents for displaced people near a UN facility in Tal al-Sultan. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) stated that its facility received at least 28 dead people, including women and children, and treated 180 wounded Palestinians.

The US, while calling the images “heartbreaking,” defended Israel’s right to self-defence, acknowledging that the strike killed two senior Hamas terrorists responsible for attacks against Israeli civilians. However, the US also urged Israel to take every precaution to protect civilians.

Following last week’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling ordering Israel to halt operations in Rafah that might harm the Palestinian population, Israel has faced enormous pressure to explain its actions. Israeli officials, including Maj Gen Yifat Tomer Yerushalmi, the IDF’s advocate general, promised a thorough investigation into the incident.

Despite the international backlash, Netanyahu remains resolute in pursuing what he calls “total victory” in Rafah. The ongoing military campaign began after Hamas gunmen attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking 252 hostages back to Gaza. Since then, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has reported over 36,000 Palestinian deaths.

The aftermath of Sunday’s strike has dealt another blow to Israel’s already strained image, raising questions about its rationale for continuing the campaign and the methods employed.


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