Israel PM says Rafah strike a ‘tragic accident’, vows to defeat Hamas

Israel PM says Rafah strike a ‘tragic accident’, vows to defeat Hamas

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that a deadly strike that hit a displacement camp in Gaza’s Rafah was a “tragic accident” which his government was investigating.

“In Rafah, we evacuated a million uninvolved residents and, despite our best efforts, a tragic accident happened yesterday,“ Netanyahu told parliament.

He added that “we are investigating the case and will draw the conclusions” after Gaza’s health ministry reported 45 dead as the strike late Sunday sparked a fire that tore through a tent city for displaced Gazans.

The ministry in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip also said that 249 people were wounded.

Israel faced a wave of international condemnation on Monday over the Rafah strike, including from across the region as well from the European Union, France and the United Nations.

ALSO READ: World Court orders Israel to halt assault on Gaza’s Rafah

The Israeli military said it had launched a probe into the strike which it said was carried out based on “precise intelligence information” about two Hamas militants who it said were killed.

It also said “the strike did not occur in the humanitarian area in Al-Mawasi, to which the IDF (army) has encouraged civilians to evacuate” since the ground operation began in Rafah.

Netanyahu struck a defiant tone in his Knesset address while being heckled by relatives of hostages held in Gaza, and vowed to keep up the battle to destroy Hamas.

“There is no substitute for absolute victory” in Gaza, he told the chamber.

ALSO READ: Around 40 civilians killed, others injured in Israeli shelling of displaced persons’ tents in Rafah

Netanyahu denounced pressure, both internal and external, that he said his government has faced since the war in Gaza began.

“They pressured us then,“ said Netanyahu, before listing calls to refrain from military operations which Israel carried out anyway.

“Don’t enter Gaza. We entered! Do not enter Shifa! We entered! Do not enter Khan Yunis! We entered! Do not enter Rafah! We entered!” he said.

“I don’t give up and I won’t give up! I stand up to pressures from home and abroad.”

ALSO READ: Israel strikes Rafah after UN court orders halt to offensive

The Gaza war broke out after the October 7 Hamas 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.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 36,050 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the territory’s health ministry.

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