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US still assessing if ‘heartbreaking’ Rafah strike crossed Biden’s ‘red line’

EU, UN, UNRWA and others outraged over alleged ‘massacre’

Protesters participate in a demonstration in solidarity with Rafah in Gaza, in Paris on May 27, 2024 (Photo: Firas Abdullah/ABACAPRESS.COM).

Amid strident international protest following an Israeli airstrike that allegedly killed up to 40 people in Rafah on Sunday evening, Washington has so far withheld criticism, stating it is still assessing what happened as of Monday.

The IDF reported that it eliminated two senior Hamas commanders, while also vowing to investigate the strike.

“The devastating images following the IDF strike in Rafah last night that killed dozens of innocent Palestinians are heartbreaking. Israel has a right to go after Hamas ... but as we’ve been clear, Israel must take every precaution possible to protect civilians,” a National Security Council spokesperson said.

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

The Biden administration continues to assess whether the strike was a violation of U.S. President Joe Biden’s “red line,” regarding Israel’s operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, two American officials told the Axios news outlet.

During his visit to Israel last week, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan indicated that Israel had assuaged some of the Biden administration’s concerns regarding Rafah, where almost 1 million civilians were evacuated before the IDF began its ongoing operation to eliminate four Hamas battalions.

In an interview in March, when asked whether an Israeli ground operation in Rafah is considered a “red line,” Biden responded: “It is a red line, but I’m never going to leave Israel.”

On Monday, approximately 10,000 people protested against Israel near the Israeli embassy in Paris, France, along with other demonstrations that were held in Madrid and Barcelona, Spain.

International criticism continued unabatedly, with even relatively friendly countries like France and Italy joining the European Union and the United Nations in harsh condemnations.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “outraged by the Israeli strikes that have killed many displaced persons in Rafah.”

“These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians. I call for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire,” he wrote on 𝕏.

“We are watching the situation with despair,” Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said in a TV interview.

“There is an increasingly difficult situation, in which the Palestinian people are being squeezed without regard for the rights of innocent men, women and children who have nothing to do with Hamas, and this can no longer be justified,” he said.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) which has been strongly condemned by Israel for its connections to the Hamas terrorist organization, called the airstrike “horrifying.”

“Information coming out of Rafah about further attacks on families seeking shelter is horrifying,” UNRWA wrote on 𝕏. “There are reports of mass casualties including children and women among those killed. Gaza is hell on earth. Images from last night are yet another testament to that.”

UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland, long known for his highly critical stance against Israel, said he was “deeply troubled.”

“I call upon the Israeli authorities to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into this incident, hold those responsible for any wrongdoing to account, and take immediate steps to better protect civilians,” he stated.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell, another known critic of the Jewish state, condemned the strikes “in the strongest terms” and threatened to force Israel to stop its incursion in Rafah.

“Horrified by news coming out of Rafah on Israeli strikes killing dozens of displaced persons, including small children,” he wrote.

“There is no safe place in Gaza. These attacks must stop immediately. ICJ orders [international humanitarian law] must be respected by all parties,” he added. 

“This is really a dilemma how the international community can… force implementation of the decision.”

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

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