Israel Hamas War Rafah Attack US White House Gaza Palestine

Israel Hamas War Rafah Attack US White House Gaza Palestine

The United States has called the latest deadly Israeli airstrike in Rafah as tragic but the recent deaths did not constitute a major ground operation there that crosses any US red lines, said White House spokesperson John Kirby on Tuesday. The statement came following an Israeli airstrike on Sunday that triggered a fire in a tent camp in Rafah, charring 45 Palestinians to death. 

“The Israelis have said this is a tragic mistake,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House, in response to the question whether the events over the weekend qualified as the type of “death and destruction” US officials have been warned could result in the withholding of more aid to Israel. 

Washington does not have “a measuring stick here or a quota”, Kirby said. 

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“We’ve also said we don’t want to see a major ground operation in Rafah that would really make it hard for the Israelis to go after Hamas without causing extensive damage and potentially a large number of deaths. We have not seen that yet,” said the White House spokesperson, noting that Israel’s operations were mostly in a corridor on the outskirts of Rafah. 

On being asked if the recent ground operation in Rafah would not prompt a US withdrawal of more military aid, Kirby said: “I believe that’s what I’ve been saying here.”

The White House’s clean chit to Israel came after US President Joe Biden had earlier said that a full-scale invasion in Rafah, which is holding up hundreds of thousands of civilians including displaced population, would cross a red line. 

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Kirby also responded to the question about Israeli airstrike and a resulting fire that killed 45 Palestinians at a tented camp for displaced people on Sunday. 

Kirby said that the Sunday strik, which killed mostly women, children and elderly people, were “heartbreaking” and “horrific”. “There should be no innocent life lost here as a result of this conflict,” he added.

Israel has said it believes the fire could have been caused by weapons stored in the vicinity by Hamas exploding.

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