White House issues stark warning to Israel over ‘devastating’ air strike on Rafah that killed two senior Hamas terrorists and dozens of civilians as Middle East tensions boil

The White House on Monday issued a warning to Israel over an air strike that killed dozens of people in a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah.

‘The devastating images following an IDF strike in Rafah last night that killed dozens of innocent Palestinians are heartbreaking,’ a spokesperson for President Joe Biden’s National Security Council said.

‘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. But as we’ve been clear, Israel must take every precaution possible to protect civilians. We are actively engaging the IDF and partners on the ground to assess what happened, and understand that the IDF is conducting an investigation.’

At least 45 people were killed by the blast and subsequent fires, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, including 23 women, children and older people. The ministry said that 249 people were wounded. 

Israel’s strike on Rafah killed at least 45 civilians

Yassin Rabia, a Hamas commander, and Khaled Nagar, another senior Hamas official, were the targets and were killed.

Israel’s military said it was investigating the civilian deaths.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted the civilian deaths were a ‘tragic accident.’

Netanyahu said the Israeli Defense Forces tried to minimize civilian deaths by asking Gazans to evacuate, but ‘despite our supreme effort not to harm uninvolved civilians, a tragic accident occurred to our regret last night.’

He accused Hamas of hiding among the general population, saying:  ‘For us, every uninvolved civilian who is hurt is a tragedy. For Hamas it’s a strategy. That’s the whole difference.’ 

The strike caused a fire that blazed through the camp in the Rafah governorate’s Tal Al-Sultan area, reducing tents and shelters to ashes.

Footage released by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society showed chaotic nighttime scenes of ambulances racing to the attack site and evacuating the wounded, including children.

As Palestinians cleared the site on Monday, only blackened metal sheeting and charred planks remained, the tent shelters having been all but obliterated.

The strike came after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to immediately halt its offensive of Rafah and officials are trying to restart ceasefire negotiations. 

A Palestinian man and his children sit in a destroyed room following the targeting or a residential building by an Israeli airstrike in Rafah in the southern Gaza

A Palestinian man and his children sit in a destroyed room following the targeting or a residential building by an Israeli airstrike in Rafah in the southern Gaza

President Joe Biden's administration admonished Israel over the attack

President Joe Biden’s administration admonished Israel over the attack

It caused caused international outrage.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was ‘outraged’ over Israel’s latest attacks. ‘These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians,’ he said on X.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the International Court of Justice ruling must be respected.

‘International humanitarian law applies for all, also for Israel’s conduct of the war,’ Baerbock said.

Additionally, Israeli forces exchanged gunfire with Egyptian troops along their shared border that resulted in the death of at least one Egyptian soldier. 

The IDF this afternoon reported a ‘shooting incident’ at the border close to the crossing into Gaza, adding that it was discussing the issue with the Egyptian authorities but revealed no further information. 

‘A few hours ago, a shooting incident occurred on the Egyptian border. The incident is under review and discussions are being held with the Egyptians,’ the military said this afternoon in a statement.

Cairo quickly confirmed the shooting as a military spokesman said authorities had opened an investigation into the incident.  

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