U.S. Monitors Tragic Israeli Airstrike Amid Rising Human Rights Pressure

The Biden administration is closely monitoring the probe into a deadly Israeli airstrike in Rafah that killed 45 Palestinians. Vice President Kamala Harris condemned the incident as beyond tragic. Human rights groups have criticized the U.S. response and urged immediate action to prevent further violence against civilians.

Reuters | Updated: 29-05-2024 00:52 IST | Created: 29-05-2024 00:52 IST
U.S. Monitors Tragic Israeli Airstrike Amid Rising Human Rights Pressure
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(Adds State Department from paragraph 7) WASHINGTON, May 28 (Reuters) -

The Biden administration on Tuesday said it was closely monitoring the probe into a deadly Israeli air strike it called beyond tragic, as human rights groups put new pressure on Washington to stop violence against civilians in Rafah. Speaking at a ceremonial event in Washington, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said, "The word tragic doesn't even begin to describe" an Israeli airstrike on Sunday that triggered a fire in a tent camp in the Gaza city of Rafah, killing 45 Palestinians.

The remark, in response to a reporter's question, also followed what Gaza health authorities described as Israeli tank shelling of a tent camp in an evacuation area west of Rafah that killed at least 21 people on Tuesday. Israel said, "Something unfortunately went tragically wrong" in Sunday's airstrike while its military denied shelling the tent camp on Tuesday. Israel said it had targeted two senior Hamas operatives in Sunday's operation and had not intended to cause civilian casualties.

Both events have tested President Joe Biden's promise to withhold weapons from Israel if the U.S. ally made a major invasion of Rafah that put refugees there at risk. The White House on Monday said the death of Palestinians was "heartbreaking" and has not responded to questions about Tuesday's attack.

The U.S. administration's response was criticized by human rights and Arab American groups. "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," said Nihad Awad, executive director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Israeli and U.S. officials have denounced the use of the term genocide to describe events on the ground in Gaza. The State Department said on Tuesday that as soon as it saw reports of Sunday's Rafah incident, Washington had expressed deep concern to Israel and urged an investigation, which Israel has promised.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters that Washington will be closely watching Israel's probe but Israel's military operations so far in Rafah have not been as large-scale as those in central or northern Gaza. Global leaders have expressed horror at the fire in a designated "humanitarian zone" of Rafah where families uprooted by fighting elsewhere had sought shelter.

More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's offensive, Gaza's health ministry says. Israel launched its air and ground war after Hamas-led militants attacked southern Israeli communities on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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