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Palestinians look at the wreckage left by one of the strikes Alamy Stock Photo

Netanyahu calls Israeli strike 'tragic mistake' after 45 killed in 'safe area' in Gaza

Footage and images released from the scene of the strike show large scale destruction.


ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu has said there had been a “tragic mistake” after at least 45 people were killed and dozens injured following Israeli airstrikes on a displaced people’s camp near Rafah.

According to global relief charity Action Aid, Israeli fighter jets launched eight missiles at makeshift shelters that were housing internally displaced persons (IDPs) next to UNRWA warehouses stocking vital aid.

Footage and images released from the scene of the strike show a large scale destruction and makeshift buildings ablaze, with the bodies of children and adults evident. 

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, 45 people were killed in the strike.

“There are 249 others who were wounded,” the ministry said.

A spokesperson with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said earlier the death toll is likely to rise as search and rescue efforts continue in the Tal al-Sultan neighbourhood.

The society said the location had been designated by Israel as a “humanitarian area”. It is not included in areas that Israel’s military ordered evacuated earlier this month.

“In Rafah, we evacuated a million uninvolved residents, and despite our best efforts a tragic incident happened yesterday,” Netanyahu told the Israeli parliament, adding that “we are investigating the case and will draw the conclusions”.

In a statement earlier this afternoon, Israel said it was looking into the “grave and awful” impact on Palestinian civilians of the strike, that it says was aimed at senior Hamas operatives.

“We’re looking into this,” said government spokesman Avi Hyman.

“It was definitely grave,” he said. “Any loss of life, civilian live, is grave and is awful. We seek to go after Hamas and limit civilian casualties… This is an unfolding story.”

“According to initial reports, a fire broke out after the attack. These terrorists were hiding underground, and it would appear that there were civilian casualties.”

Meanwhile, Egypt’s military said this evening a border guard was killed in a shooting in the Rafah border area with Gaza, where Israeli forces are deployed, adding that a probe had been launched.

The Israeli military reported a “shooting incident” on the Egyptian border, and said it was discussing the incident with Egypt.


ActionAid Ireland CEO Karol Balfe said the victims of the airstrike were supposed to be in safe havens.

“Children, women, and men are being burned alive under their tents and shelters,” she said.

“The Civil Defence in Gaza estimates that around 100,000 IDPs are currently in the targeted areas.”

The UN human rights chief voiced “horror” at the strike and demanded “accountability”.

“The images from the camp are horrific and point to no apparent change in the methods and means of warfare used by Israel that have already led to so many civilian deaths,” Volker Turk said in a statement.

He voiced his “horror at the further loss of civilian life in Gaza”.

UNRWA The United Nations Relief Works Agency, one of the main aid agencies operating in Gaza, said it was unable to make contact with its teams on the ground.

“#Gaza has become hell on earth. Families continue to seek refuge, trying to escape war, but there is no such thing as a safe place in the Gaza Strip,” the agency posted on X.

No one is safe: not civilians, not aid workers, no one has been spared. We need a #CeasefireNow

palestinians-react-next-to-the-destruction-after-an-israeli-strike-where-displaced-people-were-staying-in-rafah-gaza-strip-monday-may-27-2024-palestinian-health-workers-said-israeli-airstrikes-ki Palestinians react next to the destruction after the Israeli strike. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

In a statement, a United States National Security Council spokesperson said Israel must “take every precaution possible” to avoid civilian casualties.

“We are actively engaging the IDF and partners on the ground to assess what happened,” the spokesperson added.

Israel’s army earlier said its aircraft “struck a Hamas compound in Rafah”, killing Yassin Rabia and Khaled Nagar, both senior officials for the Palestinian militant group in the occupied West Bank.

It added that it was “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 strikes from Israel came despite the order by the International Court of Justice last week that Israel must “immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah Governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.

The air strike was reported hours after Hamas fired a barrage of rockets from Gaza that set off air raid sirens as far away as Tel Aviv for the first time in months.

‘Charred bodies’

“The massacre committed by the Israeli occupation army in the refugee tents northwest of Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip has left 40 martyrs and 65 wounded,” Mohammad al-Mughayyir, a senior official at the civil defence agency, told AFP.

“We saw charred bodies and dismembered limbs … We also saw cases of amputations, wounded children, women and the elderly.”

He said that rescue efforts were facing major challenges.

“There is a fuel shortage … there are roads that have been destroyed, which hinders the movement of civil defence vehicles in these targeted areas,” Mughayyir said.

“There is also a shortage of water to extinguish fires.”

The Palestinian Red Crescent said its ambulance crews transported “a large number” of people killed and injured in the strikes.

The Palestinian Authority presidency in the West Bank called it a “heinous massacre”, accusing Israeli forces of “deliberately targeting” the tents of displaced people.

palestinians-mourn-over-the-bodies-of-relatives-killed-in-an-israeli-airstrike-at-a-morgue-in-rafah-gaza-strip-monday-may-27-2024-palestinian-health-workers-said-israeli-airstrikes-sunday-killed Palestinians mourn over the bodies of relatives killed in the airstrike. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

International condemnation

The attack has been met with widespread international condemnation.

Reacting to the incident, Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister labelled the attacks “barbaric”.

He said that Israel was warned that any military operation in Rafah would have “dire consequences” for the population in Gaza.

“That is what we are seeing happening right now, on top of the hunger, on top of the starvation, [and] the refusal to allow aid in, in sufficient volumes,” Martin added.

An Taoiseach Simon Harris labelled the attacks “unconscionable” and said that “nothing is off the table” when it comes to sanctions.

Speaking on Ireland AM, Harris said the strike and destruction was “just absolutely unimaginable”.

“We’re seeing the international community being ignored and international courts being ignored,” he said.

Ireland, along with Spain and Norway, will formally recognise the state of Palestine tomorrow, which Harris said is a move to “create some momentum” and keep hopes of a “two state solution” alive, while others are trying to “bomb” those hopes “into oblivion”.

French president Emmanuel Macron posted on X in English:

“These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians,” Macron said on X in English.

“I call for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire.”

The Israeli attack also sparked strong condemnation from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and from Qatar which warned it could “hinder” budding steps to revive stalled truce and hostage release talks.

Egypt condemned what it called the “deliberate bombardment by Israeli forces of displaced peoples’ tents”.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling on Israel to “implement the measures ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concerning an immediate cessation of military operations” in Rafah.

The ministry condemned the strike as “a new flagrant violation of the provisions of international humanitarian law” and labelled the attack “a systematic policy aimed at widening the scope of death and destruction in the Gaza Strip to make it uninhabitable”.

The 7 October attack on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,984 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the territory’s health ministry. 

With reporting from AFP and PA

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