Published: 16:49, May 30, 2024
US backing of Israeli attacks amid civilian deaths causes concern
By Mike Gu and Jan Yumul in Hong Kong
Palestinians sit near debris at the site of an Israeli strike a day earlier on a camp for internally displaced people in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 28, 2024. (PHOTO / AFP)

The coldness of United States and continued backing of Israel against a cease-fire in Gaza and the civilian catastrophes resulted from Israel attacks even inside the so-called Rafah “safe zone” are raising more doubts from the rest of the international communities.

James Elder, spokesperson for the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, said on Tuesday when asked of Israeli bombings of tents in Rafah refugee camp. “I think then surely the question that needs to be asked is, ‘How many more mistakes is the world going to tolerate?’"

ALSO READ: US says latest Rafah deaths won't change Israel policy, military aid

The deaths are “devastating”, but the scale of the attack was not enough to change US policy, John Kirby, spokesperson for National Security Council of the US, told reporters at the White House on Tuesday, when asked about whether the Rafah events over the weekend qualified as the type of "death and destruction" US officials have warned could result in the withholding of more aid to Israel. "The Israelis have said this is a tragic mistake," he added.

Satellite images from Planet Labs PBC showing the UNRWA displaced people's camp at Rafah in the Gaza Strip, before and after an Israeli strike on May 26, 2024. (PHOTO / AFP) 

Israel, ignoring international voices and disregarding the order of the International Court of Justice, has rolled more tanks into the heart of Rafah and prepared more ground troops after the UN Security Council emergency meeting on Tuesday. But a statement made by the Israel Defense Forces refused to acknowledge that it bombed another camp in the Al-Mawasi area near Rafah another evacuation zone for refugees, where 21 civilians have been killed, according to The Times of Israel.

More than 38,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children have died in Israel offensives in occupied Palestine territories since Hamas attack on Oct 7 which caused about 1,200 Israeli deaths, data from Palestine and Israeli sources show

Witnesses told AFP that Israeli tanks were stationed in the center of Rafah on Tuesday, after intense fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian resistance groups in recent weeks.

READ MORE: Israel seizes Gaza's entire border with Egypt, continues raids on Rafah

But under repeated questioning, Kirby insisted that the president was not "moving the stick" on how to define a major military offensive against Rafah.

Palestinian rights advocates argue that the Biden administration is redefining what it considers to be an invasion of Rafah in order to be able to deny that an offensive is happening, Al Jazeera reported.

Yasmine Taeb, the legislative and political director for the advocacy group MPower Change Action, called Biden’s red line on Rafah “absolutely meaningless and merely a continuation of his callous and indefensible Gaza policy”.

Elder of UNICEF warned: “What do we say of those countless children who have had arms and legs amputated? Or the thousands who have been orphaned? And what is the language used to describe the unprecedented devastation to homes and schools, to the uncharted territory of trauma of children?”

This handout picture released by the Israeli army on May 30, 2024 shows an Israeli army tank during military operations around Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (PHOTO / ISRAELI ARMY VIA AFP)      

Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres, said Tuesday on X: “I condemn Israel’s actions which killed scores of innocent civilians who were only seeking shelter from this deadly conflict. There is no safe place in Gaza. This horror must stop.”

So far, 17 out of 30 of their staff have been killed while performing their humanitarian duty, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said in a post on X. A member of the Al-Quds Hospital staff, Issam Rouhi Mohammed Aqel, has been killed after his home was targeted last night in Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central governorate, the PRCS said.

READ MORE: Netanyahu: Rafah strike went tragically wrong and will be investigated

Sam Rose, director of planning for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said to reporters on Tuesday: “Regardless, when you attack a tented camp such as this, as we’ve said all along, there will inevitably be civilian casualties. It really does leave us numb and personally leaves me quite sick to the stomach.”

More than 38,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children have died in Israel offensives in occupied Palestine territories since Hamas attack on Oct 7 which caused about 1,200 Israeli deaths, data from Palestine and Israeli sources show. More than 1 million Palestinians are displaced, starved and threatened by bombs.

Contact the writers at mikegu@chinadailyhk.com