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Monday, May 27, 2024

Israel claims deadly strike on Rafah was justified

The IDF says it struck “legitimate targets” amid reports of at least 35 civilian deaths

Israel has insisted the attack by its air force in the Gazan city of Rafah which reportedly caused mass civilian casualties was a “precise strike”  targeting two senior Hamas leaders.

The IDF hit Rafah’s Tel Al-Sultan neighborhood, killing at least 35 people and injuring dozens, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry of the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave.

Read more: Hamas fires rocket barrage at Tel Aviv

Footage from the area – supposedly designated a safe zone for displaced civilians – showed widespread devastation, as a blaze ripped through a tent camp.

A spokesperson with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society warned that with many people trapped in the burning debris, the death toll may rise.

Videos showed rescuers pulling badly burnt survivors and scorched bodies from the ruins, as first responders struggled to help the injured and tackle the flames.

Earlier this month, the IDF ordered a partial evacuation of the neighborhood, but three blocks were still designated as safe, encouraging people to take refuge there, according to Al Jazeera.

The Israeli military has acknowledged the air raid, but insisted it targeted a Hamas compound and successfully eliminated two “senior terrorists,” accused of planning and carrying out “numerous attacks, in which IDF soldiers were killed.”

Read more: Hamas mourns Raisi death, hails his ‘support for Palestinian resistance’

“The strike was carried out against legitimate targets under international law, through the use of precise munitions and on the basis of precise intelligence,” the Israeli military said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

“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 IDF added, noting that the “incident is under review.”

Last week, the United Nations’ top judicial body, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), ordered Israel to immediately halt its operation in Rafah. The court said it was “not convinced that the evacuation efforts and the related measures that Israel affirms to have undertaken” were sufficient to “alleviate the immense risk” to civilians.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas started on October 7, when the Gaza-based group launched a surprise raid into the south of the country, killing some 1,200 people and taking approximately 250 hostages. More than 35,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed so far amid the IDF operation to destroy the militants, according to the enclave’s health authorities.