Latest news on Israel, Gaza and Rafah: Three countries will formally recognize the Palestinian state

An Israeli airstrike on the southern Gaza city of Rafah that killed dozens of displaced Palestinians sparked widespread international condemnation on Monday, with world leaders calling for an investigation into the attack and stepping up pressure for Israel to put end to his military campaign in the south.

President Emmanuel Macron of France said Monday he was “outraged” by the explosion and called for “full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire.”

“These operations must cease,” he said, referring to Sunday’s strike. “There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians.”

The attack came just two days after the International Court of Justice appeared to order Israel to immediately halt its offensive on the city. An Israeli military legal official said the attack was under review.

Volker Türk, the United Nations human rights chief, said: “What is strikingly clear is that attacking such an area, densely populated with civilians, was an entirely predictable outcome.”

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said at a news conference on Monday that he planned to ask other foreign ministers of European Union member states to support the World Court’s rulings against Israel and to take action if Israel continues its operations in Rafah.

António Guterres, the UN secretary general, condemned Israel’s actions in a post on X.

“There is no safe place in Gaza,” Guterres wrote. “This horror must end.” Tor Wennesland, U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, condemned the airstrikes and said he was “deeply concerned by the deaths of so many women and children in an area where people have sought refuge.”

Germany’s public broadcaster reported that the country’s vice chancellor, Robert Habeck, said on Saturday that Israel’s offensive in Rafah was “incompatible with international law.” Senior German officials had previously warned Israel not to attack Rafah, but Habeck’s comments appeared to represent a hardening of that tone in a country with a long-standing policy of support for Israel.

“Israel must not carry out this attack, at least not as it did before in the Gaza Strip, bombing refugee camps and so on,” Habeck said.

The Israeli military said the attack targeted a Hamas compound and used “precision munitions” to kill two senior Hamas leaders. But at least 45 people were killed and more than 200 injured in the attack and subsequent fires, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

In a statement, a White House National Security Council spokesman acknowledged that the strike had killed two senior leaders responsible for the October 7 attacks on Israel and said Israel “has the right to pursue Hamas.”

“But as we have been clear, Israel must take all possible precautions to protect civilians,” said Eduardo Maia Silva, spokesman for the council, before referring to the Israel Defense Forces, adding: “We are actively involving the IDF and its partners”. on the ground to assess what happened and understand that the IDF is conducting an investigation.”

The attack drew criticism from aid groups, including the International Rescue Committee, which issued a statement saying it was “horrified” and calling the affected area a “designated safe zone.” Israeli officials insist that the attack occurred outside the area they had designated as a safe zone for civilians. The IRC also called for an end to Israel’s attack, a complete ceasefire and the release of all hostages.

Martin Griffiths, United Nations emergency aid coordinator, denounced the Israeli attack on social media and, appearing to reference Israeli military activity in southern Gaza, lamented how aid agencies have had difficulty collecting goods in the necessary scale.

“Such impunity cannot continue,” Griffiths said.

Philippe Lazzarini, head of UNRWA, the main UN aid agency for the Palestinians, described the images coming out of Rafah as a “testimony of how Rafah has become hell on earth.”

The agency has had difficulty contacting its teams on the ground in Rafah, he said, and some of its staff are missing.

“UNRWA is doing everything possible not to disrupt the delivery of humanitarian assistance. But with each passing day, providing assistance and protection becomes almost impossible,” Lazzarini wrote in X.

Catherine Russell, executive director of UNICEF, said the continued attacks in Rafah pose “a catastrophic risk to children taking refuge there”, adding that many have already suffered extreme loss and hardship.

“They must be protected, along with the few basic services and infrastructure they need to survive,” Russell wrote.

Leave a Comment