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Amid international outcry: 'Grave' Rafah incident still under review, IDF prosecutor says

EU accuses Israel of ignoring ICJ – Qatar warns strike will harm hostage deal

Chief Military Advocate Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi speaks at the Israel Bar Association annual conference of attorneys in Eilat in southern Israel, on May 27, 2024 (Photo: Flash 90).

The IDF is still reviewing an airstrike in Rafah late on Sunday evening which Hamas described as a “massacre” that killed over 35 people, the IDF’s chief military prosecutor, Maj.-Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, said Monday morning.

Speaking at a Bar Association conference, Tomer-Yerushalmi said, “Naturally, in a war of such scope and intensity, grave events also happen. The details of the event are still under review, and we are committed to seeing it through to the end.”

Her comments were the first detailed statement by an IDF official regarding the strike in the Tell as-Sultan area in northwest Rafah, which, according to the IDF, killed two senior Hamas commanders.

“The IDF regrets any harm to non-involved people during the war. During war, there are also incidents that occur in which the suspicion of violations of the laws of war and military orders arises,” Tomer-Yerushalmi stated.

“However, these are exceptions and not the rule, and they do not bely a policy that deviates from the law. The opposite is true - these suspicions are examined thoroughly and decisively, as part of our deep commitment to justice,” she added.

Reports of the strike and the subsequent fire in the area sparked international outrage. Qatar warned that the Israeli strikes could hinder the effort to renew negotiations for a hostage release deal.

The Egyptian government accused Israel of deliberately bombing refugee tents and demanded Israeli forces “implement the measures ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concerning an immediate cessation of military operations” in Rafah.

On Monday, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, accused Israel of ignoring the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) order to stop its operations in Rafah and demanded that the ruling be implemented.

In its first statement, the White House said it was following the situation.

“We’re aware of the reports about the incident in Rafah and are gathering more information,” a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council told The Times of Israel.

Soon after the strike, the IDF reported: “The strike was carried out against legitimate targets under international law, using precise munitions and on the basis of precise intelligence that indicated Hamas' use of the area.”

The IDF 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 All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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