US says deadly Rafah strike didn't cross 'red lines' as Israel widens assault

A top US official said President Joe Biden's administration was closely monitoring the situation in Rafah after a deadly Israeli airstrike triggered a fire at a tent camp in the southern Gaza city, killing 45 Palestinians.
US says deadly Rafah strike didn't cross 'red lines' as Israel widens assault
Jaano Junction

A top US official said President Joe Biden's administration was closely monitoring the situation in Rafah after a deadly Israeli airstrike triggered a fire at a tent camp in the southern Gaza city, killing 45 Palestinians. However, Israel's ongoing assault in Rafah still does not amount to a full-scale invasion which would breach Biden's "red lines", he added.

On Tuesday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House that the "Israelis have said this is a tragic mistake", adding the US doesn't have "a measuring stick here or a quota", Reuters news agency reported.

"We've also said we don't want to see a major ground operation in Rafah that would really make it hard for the Israelis to go after Hamas without causing extensive damage and potentially a large number of deaths. We have not seen that yet. We have not seen them smash into Rafah," he said and noted that the Jewish state's operations were mostly in a corridor on the outskirts of Rafah.

Meanwhile, Algeria will present a draft resolution at the UN Security Council on Wednesday, calling "to stop the killing in Rafah".

Since Israel launched its ongoing assault in Rafah on May 6, more than 1 million people were forced to flee the city, according to UN figures.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that "the Israelis have said they used 37-pound bombs, precision-guided munitions... If it is in fact what they used, it is certainly indicative of an effort to be discreet and targeted and precise. Now, obviously, this had tragic results, and obviously that needs to be investigated.”

"As a result of this strike on Sunday I have no policy changes to speak to... It just happened, the Israelis are going to investigate it."

Echoing Kirby's remarks, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters that Washington will be closely watching Israel's probe into the Rafah strike, but the Jewish state's military operations so far in the city have not been as large-scale as those in central or northern Gaza.

The Israeli military said it has launched a probe to determine what triggered the massive fire at the tent camp in Rafah following the deadly airstrike.

“Despite our efforts to minimise civilian casualties during the strike, the fire that broke out was unexpected and unintended... Our investigation seeks to determine what may have caused such a large fire to ignite," military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said.

On Tuesday, Israeli shelling and airstrikes killed at least 37 people near Rafah. While 16 people were killed due to shelling in Rafah’s western Tel al-Sultan district, 21 others, including 13 women, died after an Israeli drone strike hit tents near a field hospital by the Mediterranean coast west of the city.

Meanwhile, Algeria has circulated to all UN Security Council members a proposed draft resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the unconditional release of all hostages, a UN diplomat told CNN on Tuesday.It remains unknown how the US will vote on this. Algerian Ambassador Amar Bendjama told reporters that “it will be a short text, a decisive text, to stop the killing in Rafah". The Council convened for an urgent meeting on Tuesday which was also requested by Algeria.

At least 940,000 people have been displaced from Rafah in the past three weeks as a result of "the intensification of hostilities and issuance of evacuation orders" by Israeli forces, CNN quoted the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) as saying.

"Health facilities there continue to face dire shortages of fuel and medical supplies while having to cope with a rising influx of casualties due to injuries and burns. While the Kerem Shalom crossing remains open in principle, it is extremely difficult for aid organisations to access from the Gaza side due to the hostilities, challenging logistical conditions, and complex coordination procedures," it added.

A US military-built pier off Gaza's coast is being temporarily removed after a part of the structure broke off, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said the pier would be towed over the next 48 hours to Ashdod port in Israel for repairs, adding that it would take over a week to repair and then returned to its place off the coast of Gaza, reports Reuters news agency.

Since the pier, announced by President Joe Biden in March, began operations, the UN has transported 137 trucks of aid.

Israeli tanks rolled into central Rafah on Tuesday for the first time in the country's seven-month war against Hamas, signaling a new phase of its offensive. While one witness told CNN that the tanks were seen in Al Awda roundabout in the city centre, another said the tanks “advanced in the middle of the night”.

Spain, Norway and Ireland on Tuesday formally recognised a Palestinian state, joining more than 140 countries to have done so since 1988. The three European countries will begin the process of appointing an ambassador and opening an embassy in the Palestinian territories. Slovenia will also this week consider a proposal to recognise an independent Palestinian state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead in Rafah, saying Israeli forces must enter the city to dismantle Hamas and return hostages taken in the October 7, 2023, attack that triggered the war in Gaza.

Source: India Today

Stay connected to Jaano Junction on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Koo. Listen to our Podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Jaano Junction