Second IDF attack in Rafah kills 21 amid global outrage over initial massacre

As international condemnation grows over the IDF's bombing of a Rafah refugee camp that killed 45, another strike claims the lives of 21 more, intensifying calls for an end to the violence.

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Image Credit: REUTERS/Hatem Khaled

As international condemnation mounts over the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) bombing of a Rafah refugee camp that killed 45 people and wounded hundreds more, the Israeli military on Tuesday carried out another deadly strike, killing at least 21 people at a different refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip.

Humanitarians and world leaders are decrying the attacks, which occurred in areas designated by Israel as “safe zones” for civilians. The latest assault took place in Al-Mawasi, a coastal area to which the IDF had advised civilians to move for safety. According to health officials in Gaza, four tank shells hit a cluster of tents, resulting in the deaths of at least 21 people, including 12 women.

Gaza-based journalist Hind Khoudary expressed her despair on social media, stating, “I have a live hit on Al Jazeera in a bit and all I’m thinking about is how I will report on this massacre again. My heart is pounding so fast. My [fingers] are shaking. I want to cry.” The emotional toll on journalists and civilians alike underscores the gravity of the situation.

IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari addressed the incident, stating, “I don’t know about this incident. We are putting this incident under investigation, and we will update you in advance.” Hagari also spoke about the initial Rafah attack during a press briefing, labeling it a “tragic mistake.” He claimed that the IDF targeted a compound used by Hamas and that “due to unforeseen circumstances, a fire ignited tragically taking the lives of Gazan civilians nearby.”

Hagari insisted that the strike was conducted over a kilometer and a half away from the designated humanitarian area in Al-Mawasi and suggested that the fire might have been caused by weapons stored in a nearby compound. However, these explanations have not quelled the outrage.

The IDF’s claims about the initial massacre and the subsequent attack have sparked a global outcry, with U.S. lawmakers urging President Joe Biden to suspend weapons and diplomatic support for Israel’s offensive, which has resulted in over 36,000 Palestinian deaths, 81,000 injuries, and thousands missing or presumed dead under the rubble, according to Gaza health officials.

Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), condemned the U.S. administration’s support for Israel. “Day after day, massacre after massacre, and the Biden administration continues to ship the bombs to the far-right, openly genocidal Israeli government that it uses to slaughter Palestinian children, women, medical personnel, journalists, international aid workers, and the sick and elderly,” Awad said. “This genocidal brutality, which is being exposed daily by piles of charred and dismembered Palestinian civilians, must stop.”

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza continues to worsen as Palestinians struggle to find food, water, shelter, and medical care. The IDF has destroyed critical civilian infrastructure, including homes, hospitals, schools, and mosques, while severely restricting the delivery of humanitarian aid. This has left the population in dire conditions, facing imminent starvation and the spread of disease.

“Day after day, the humanitarian situation in Gaza becomes more desperate,” said a spokesperson for a leading international aid organization. “The destruction of infrastructure and the blockade of aid are making it impossible for civilians to survive, let alone recover.”

Both deadly IDF attacks on displaced Palestinians in and near Rafah came in the wake of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) last week directing Israel to “immediately halt its military offensive or any other action in the Rafah governorate.” This followed the ICJ’s January order for Israel to “take all measures within its power” to uphold its obligations under the Genocide Convention.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a Palestinian presidential spokesperson, called the new attack a massacre and urged the international community to implement the ICJ’s decision. “The continuous targeting of civilians and the blatant disregard for international law cannot go unanswered,” he said.

Eyewitness accounts from survivors paint a harrowing picture of the destruction. Hind Khoudary’s emotional plea on social media and testimonies from local residents reveal the human toll of the ongoing violence. “We are tired. The Israelis are hitting everywhere,” said one resident to Reuters.

London-based researcher Naks Bilal highlighted the urgent need for humanitarian intervention. “Without humanitarian intervention, it is impossible to see how this does not stop. How much more can the Palestinians survive this? Safe zones targeted, refugees killed with merciless brutality,” Bilal wrote. “Focus energy on calling for intervention, or there will be no Palestinians.”

These attacks are part of a larger, ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine that has seen numerous similar incidents over the years. The political motivations behind the IDF’s actions are complex and deeply rooted in the history of the region. The continued violence poses significant challenges to peace and stability, not only in Gaza but across the Middle East.

“This genocidal brutality must stop,” urged Nihad Awad. 

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Jordan Atwood is a dynamic War and Politics Reporter known for his incisive analysis and comprehensive coverage of international conflicts and political landscapes. His work is driven by a commitment to uncovering the truth and providing a clear, informed understanding of complex geopolitical events. Jordan's reporting not only captures the realities of war but also delves into the political strategies and implications behind them, making his work essential for those seeking a deeper understanding of world affairs.

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