War in the Middle East: Israel sticks to war goal after Rafah attack

War in the Middle East: Israel sticks to war goal after Rafah attack

Israel’s devastating air strike in Rafah has brought the UN Security Council into action. Has the country violated the US “red line”? The news at a glance.

While Israel’s leadership is sticking to its war aims despite the worldwide horror over the devastating air strike that left several people dead in a refugee camp in Rafah, the UN Security Council is to meet for an emergency session. Diplomats from the most powerful body of the United Nations reported that the meeting is scheduled for 9.30 p.m. CEST today.

A spokesman for the US State Department described the images from the tent camp for displaced people in the southern Gaza Strip as “heartbreaking”. They are working with the Israeli army and partners on the ground to clarify the circumstances of the air strike. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in parliament of a “tragic” incident from which lessons will be learned. At the same time, however, according to his office, he stressed: “I will not give in or surrender. I will not end the war until we have achieved all of our goals.”

US stresses Israel’s right to take action against Hamas

According to the Palestinian Health Authority, the Israeli military killed at least 45 people and injured dozens more in an attack on a camp for displaced persons. Most of the dead were women and minors. UN Secretary-General António Guterres condemned Israel’s actions and demanded: “This horror must stop.”

When asked by the dpa, a spokesman for the US State Department stressed that Israel has the right to take action against the Islamists of Hamas. According to the information available, two high-ranking terrorists were killed in the attack. “But as we have already made clear, Israel must take all possible precautions to protect the civilian population,” he said. And in this case, dozens of innocent Palestinians were killed.

Report: Fire probably caused by grenade splinters

Israeli officials told the US government that they believed that a fuel tank 100 meters away caught fire after the airstrike, possibly due to shrapnel, ABC News quoted a US official as saying. This caused a tent to catch fire, which in turn led to the devastating fire in the camp. However, the US has no clear information on this.

After the airstrike, disturbing videos circulated on social media showing charred bodies being recovered from burning tents. Israel’s army said it had taken precautions to reduce the risk to civilians. For example, it had used precise ammunition in the attack and monitored the area from the air.

US government does not want to evaluate attack yet

Meanwhile, two US officials told the news portal Axios that the administration of US President Joe Biden is still examining whether the deadly airstrike constitutes a violation of the “red line” proclaimed by Biden. Biden recently threatened Israel to suspend the delivery of some US weapons if Israel’s army entered densely populated urban centers in Rafah.

The US government rejects a major Israeli ground offensive in the city bordering Egypt, but recently stated that operations there had not yet reached the extent it had warned about. The spokesman did not answer the question of whether the State Department still assessed the situation in this way after the latest air strike.

The German government assumes that there was a mistake on the Israeli side in connection with the attack. Investigations are currently underway in Israel to determine whether it was a targeted attack, said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit in Berlin. “In any case, a mistake was made, that much can already be said,” he added.

“The conclusion as to whether this is a war crime in the sense of international law is something that must be left to lawyers who know the exact facts.” The maxim is: “First investigate what exactly happened and then judge. And don’t make an immediate judgement based on pictures.”

Setback for ceasefire efforts

Because of the attack in Rafah, Hamas has suspended its participation in the ceasefire negotiations for the time being. Hamas representatives told dpa this. The indirect negotiations between Israel and the Islamist organization, in which Egypt, Qatar and the USA are acting as mediators, recently reached a dead end after several days of talks in Cairo and Doha.

According to media reports, they should resume this week “on the basis of new proposals.” Israel is waiting for more information from the mediators on Hamas’ latest positions before making a decision on sending its own negotiating team, an Israeli official told the Times of Israel, according to their report.

EU wants to call on Israel to meet on situation in Gaza

Meanwhile, the EU wants to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip with Israel in a formal meeting. “We have achieved the necessary unanimity to call for an Association Council with Israel,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Brussels after a meeting of the foreign ministers of the member states.

The issue should be respect for human rights and how Israel intends to implement the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), said Borell. Since the decision was announced, there has not been a cessation of military activities, but “on the contrary: an increase in military activities, an increase in bombings and an increase in civilian casualties.”

The ICJ had ordered Israel to end its operation in Rafah immediately. No living conditions should be created “that could lead to the total or partial destruction of the Palestinian population in Gaza,” the ruling said. However, the World Court did not order a ceasefire for Gaza. Its decisions are binding. However, the UN judges have no means of forcing a state to implement them.

What is important today

A few hours after Norway, Ireland and Spain also want to recognize a Palestinian state. Norway’s decision to recognize Palestine as a state came into effect at midnight. The three countries hope that this will provide an impetus for the so-called two-state solution. This means an independent Palestinian state that exists peacefully side by side with Israel. However, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and the terrorist organization Hamas, which denies Israel’s right to exist, reject a two-state solution.

It is still unclear whether the UN Security Council meeting will be held in public or behind closed doors. The latter seemed more likely, according to a diplomat.

Source: Stern

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