Israel Gaza: Netanyahu vows to continue war amid airstrikes condemnation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the war against Hamas amid international condemnation of Sunday’s airstrikes in Rafah that killed scores of Palestinians.

At least 45 people were killed, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Mr Netanyahu called the strike an “unfortunate accident” but added: “I don’t want to end the war before achieving every goal.”

He said it was vital that Israel take “all possible precautions” to protect civilians, and stressed that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were “using their best efforts to avoid harming civilians” in the conflict.

  • author, Paul Adams
  • stock, BBC News
  • Report from Jerusalem
video title, At the site of Israel’s deadly attack on Rafah

At Algeria’s request, the Rafah was called to the UN to discuss the strike. The Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday.

In a statement on Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the strike “killed many innocent civilians seeking refuge from this deadly conflict”.

“There is no safe place in Gaza. This terror must stop,” he said.

Speaking in the Israeli parliament, Mr Netanyahu was occasionally interrupted by family members of hostages taken by Hamas during the October 7 attack, some of whom criticized him for failing to enter into a deal to return their loved ones. One.

“We have already evacuated a million non-combatant residents in Rafah, and despite our best efforts to avoid harming non-combatants, something has unfortunately gone terribly wrong,” he continued.

“We are investigating the incident and will come to conclusions as this is our policy.”

International organizations have lined up to condemn the strike, with the European Union urging Israel to respect an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling last week to halt strikes on Rafah. The bloc’s top diplomat, Joseph Borrell, called Sunday’s strike “horrific”.

Despite the ICJ ruling, Israel has vowed to continue its offensive on Rafah, with officials insisting the offensive must comply with international law.

UN human rights chief Volker Turk said the attack “represents no apparent change in the methods and methods of warfare used by Israel, which have already led to many civilian deaths.”

Israel launched the Rafat attack on Sunday after Hamas launched its first missile attack on Tel Aviv in months.

IDF officials said two senior Hamas commanders were killed in the attack on Rafah and that they were investigating civilian deaths in the area.

But the Palestinian Red Cross said the UN mission in Tal al-Sultan, about 2 km (1.2 mi) northwest of Rafah’s center, was a disaster. It said airstrikes targeted tents for displaced people near the facility.

Videos from the Tal al-Sultan area on Sunday night showed a large explosion and heavy fire burning.

Graphic footage showed several structures burning next to a banner reading “Kuwait Peace Camp ‘1’” and first responders and bystanders carrying several bodies.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said on Monday that one of its facilities had received at least 28 dead, including women and children, following the strike.

It said it had treated another 180 injured Palestinians, most of whom suffered severe lacerations, broken bones, traumatic injuries and burns.

MSF rejected Israeli reports that the strike was accurate, saying that “the attack on the so-called ‘safe area’ residential camp in Rafah shows a complete disregard for the lives of civilians in Gaza.”

The US called the images “heartbreaking” but insisted Israel had the right to defend itself.

“Israel has the right to go after Hamas, and we understand that this attack killed two senior Hamas terrorists responsible for attacks against Israeli civilians,” a White House national security spokesman said.

But they agreed that “Israel must take all precautions to protect civilians.”

Israeli officials spent much of Monday scrambling to figure out what went wrong in Rafah. Israel is under pressure to explain how a “precision strike” using specialized munitions with “reduced warheads” caused a firestorm that killed dozens.

Top military officials, including the IDF’s Advocate General Major General Yifat Tomer Yerushalmi, have promised a thorough investigation and a detailed explanation is expected.

However, whether the incident will mark a turning point in the campaign is another matter.

Mr Netanyahu said he was committed to what he called a “total victory” in Rafah, so there was no sign Sunday’s debacle would change his mind.

Israel’s military campaign in Gaza began on October 7 after Hamas gunmen attacked Israel, killing approximately 1,200 people and taking 252 hostages.

According to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry, more than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war.

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