Israeli tanks

Israeli tanks move near Israel's border with the southern Gaza Strip on May 25, 2024.

(Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Amid Outrage Over Rafah Massacre, Second IDF Attack on Camp Kills 21

"How much more can the Palestinians survive this?" asked one researcher. "Safe zones targeted, refugees killed with merciless brutality."

As humanitarians and world leaders condemn an Israel Defense Forces bombing and resulting fire in a Rafah "safe zone" that killed 45 people and wounded hundreds more, the Israeli military on Tuesday killed at least 21 more at another refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip.

"Four tank shells hit a cluster of tents in Al-Mawasi, a coastal area that Israel had advised civilians in Rafah to move to for safety," Reutersreported, citing health officials in the Hamas-governed Palestinian enclave. "At least 12 of the dead were women."

Gaza-based journalist Hind Khoudary said on social media Tuesday: "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."

According to Agence France-Presse, IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters on Tuesday that "I don't know about this incident. We are putting this incident under investigation, and we will update you in advance."

Hagari also addressed a probe into the Rafah attack—which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a "tragic mistake"—during a Tuesday press briefing, saying that "on Sunday night, we eliminated senior Hamas terrorists in a targeted strike on a compound used by Hamas" and "due to unforeseen circumstances, a fire ignited tragically taking the lives of Gazan civilians nearby."

"Contrary to reports, we conducted the strike outside the area that we designated as a humanitarian area and called civilians to evacuate to. Our strike was over a kilometer-and-a-half away from the Al-Mawasi humanitarian area. What we call the safer zone," Hagari said. "Our munition alone could not have ignited a fire of this size... We are looking into all possibilities including the option that weapons stored in a compound next to our target, which we did not know of, may have ignited as a result of the strike."

The IDF's claims about the Sunday massacre have not quelled outrage around the world—including from U.S. lawmakers urging President Joe Biden to suspend weapons and diplomatic support for Israel's war, which has killed over 36,000 Palestinians, injured another 81,000, and left thousands more missing and believed dead beneath the rubble, according to Gaza health officials.

Palestinians who have so far survived the Israeli assault on Gaza for more than seven months are struggling to find food, water, shelter, and medical care. The IDF has destroyed civilian infrastructure—including homes, hospitals, schools, and mosques—across the enclave and severely restricted the delivery of humanitarian aid.

"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, and continues to shield Israel from international accountability," Council on American-Islamic Relations national executive director Nihad Awad said Tuesday.

"This genocidal brutality, which is being exposed daily by piles of charred and dismembered Palestinian civilians, must stop," Awad added. "Sadly, because of President Biden's insistence on sending more bombs to enable Netanyahu's war crimes in Rafah, this is now as much an American genocide as it is an Israeli genocide."

Both deadly IDF attacks on displaced Palestinians in and near Rafah came in the wake of the International Court of Justice last week directing Israel to "immediately halt its military offensive or any other action in the Rafah governorate," which followed the ICJ's January order that the country "take all measures within its power" to uphold its obligations under the Genocide Convention.

Middle East Eyereported Tuesday that Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a Palestinian presidential spokesperson, "called the new attack a massacre, and called for the implementation of the International Court of Justice decision last week for Israel to halt its offensive on Rafah," which began earlier this month.

Responding to the Tuesday attack on social media, London-based researcher Naks Bilal said that "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 added. "Focus energy on calling for intervention, or there will be no Palestinians."

This post has been updated with comment from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

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