Netanyahu Acknowledges ‘Tragic Incident’ After Rafah Strike Kills Group of Gazans

By Hamodia Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ministers and MK’s at a 40 signatures debate, at the plenum hall of the Knesset. May 27, 2024. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu acknowledged Monday that a “tragic incident” had occurred after an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza city of Rafah set fire to a tent camp housing displaced Palestinians and killed dozens of civilians.

The number of civilians killed has not been confirmed, but the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry placed the number of deaths at 45. The ministry does not differentiate between terrorists and civilians in its death tolls, and has been found to exaggerate or at times fabricate numbers of deaths.

The mishap only added to the surging international criticism Israel has faced over its war with the terror group, with even its closest allies expressing outrage at civilian deaths. Israel insists it adheres to international law and the IDF has maintained a hitherto unseen combatant-to-civilian death ratio of around 1:1, despite facing an enemy that aims for mass Israeli civilians death, works from Palestinian civilian areas and purposefully sacrifices its citizens for political theater, threatening those who comply with evacuation efforts.

Israel’s military had earlier said that it launched an investigation into civilian deaths after it struck a Hamas installation and killed two senior terrorists.

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

In a separate development, Egypt’s military said one of its soldiers was shot dead during an exchange of fire in the Rafah area, without providing further details. Israel said it was in contact with Egyptian authorities, and both sides said they were investigating.

Rafah, the southernmost Gaza city on the border with Egypt, had housed more than a million people — about half of Gaza’s population — displaced from other parts of the territory. Most have fled once again since Israel launched a limited incursion there earlier this month. Hundreds of thousands are housed in tent camps in and around the city.

Netanyahu says Israel must destroy Hamas’ last remaining battalions in Rafah. The terrorist group launched a barrage of rockets Sunday from the city toward heavily populated central Israel, setting off air raid sirens but causing no injuries.

Qatar, a key mediator in attempts to secure a cease-fire and the release of hostages held by Hamas, said the Rafah strike could “complicate” talks, Negotiations, which appear to be restarting, have faltered repeatedly over Hamas’ demand for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces and end to the war, terms Israeli leaders have rejected.

The Israeli military’s top legal official, Maj. Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, said authorities were examining the strike in Rafah and that the military regrets the loss of civilian life.

With reporting from wire services.

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