Israeli PM says deadly Rafah strike a 'tragic accident'

In an address to parliament, Netanyahu says the airstrike that killed 45 people was not intended to cause civilian casualties


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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. — Photo: AFP file
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. — Photo: AFP file

Published: Mon 27 May 2024, 9:17 PM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday a deadly strike that hit a displacement camp in Gaza's Rafah was a "tragic accident" which his government was "investigating".

In a speech in parliament that was interrupted by shouting from opposition lawmakers, he said the airstrike was not intended to cause civilian casualties.

"In Rafah, we evacuated a million uninvolved residents, and despite our best efforts a tragic accident happened yesterday (Sunday)," Netanyahu told the parliament, adding that "we are investigating the case and will draw the conclusions".

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"We are investigating the incident and will reach conclusions, because this is our policy," he said.

Gaza's health ministry reported 45 dead as the strike late on 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.

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.

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 Younis! 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."


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