Latest News 27-05-2024 21:03 17 Views

Netanyahu responds to strike that killed Hamas terror leaders, civilians: ‘Investigating the incident’

JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his nation’s military on Monday flatly refuted claims that the country’s air force aimed to harm civilians in its strike that eliminated two senior Hamas terrorist leaders on Sunday, the same day Hamas launched its most recent barrage of missiles into densely populated areas of Israel.

There are mixed reports about the number of civilians killed in the Rafah strike. The Hamas-run health ministry claimed at least 45 people died, and other outlets have quoted up to 50 deaths.

According to Reuters in a speech to the Israeli parliament on Monday, Netanyahu said, 'In Rafah, we already evacuated about one million non-combatants residents and despite our upmost effort not to harm non-combatants, something unfortunately went tragically wrong. We are investigating the incident and will reach conclusions because this is our policy.'

A statement released by a spokesman for the Biden administration's National Security Council on Monday said, 'The devastating images following an IDF strike in Rafah last night that killed dozens of innocent Palestinians are heartbreaking.'

The statement continued, 'Israel has a right to go after Hamas, and we understand this strike killed two senior Hamas terrorists who are responsible for attacks against Israeli civilians. But as we’ve been clear, Israel must take every precaution possible to protect civilians. We are actively engaging the IDF and partners on the ground to assess what happened, and understand that the IDF is conducting an investigation.'

Hamas does not differentiate between civilians and terrorists. Fox News Digital reported in March that an Ivy League statistician argued that Hamas’ death toll numbers are not trustworthy.

'Before the strike, a number of steps were taken to reduce the risk of harming uninvolved civilians during the strike, including conducting aerial surveillance, the deployment of precise munitions by the IAF, and additional intelligence information. Based on these measures, it was assessed that there would be no expected harm to uninvolved civilians,' said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) statement, which added, 'In addition, the strike did not occur in the Humanitarian Area in Al-Mawasi, to which the IDF has encouraged civilians to evacuate.'

The IDF's statement continued, 'The incident is under the investigation of the General Staff's Fact-Finding and Assessment Mechanism, which is an independent body responsible for examining exceptional incidents in combat. The General Staff's Fact-Finding and Assessment Mechanism is investigating the circumstances of the deaths of civilians in the area of the strike. The IDF regrets any harm to uninvolved civilians during combat.'

The military advocate general, Maj. Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, directed the General Staff’s Fact-Finding and Assessment Mechanism to investigate the strike carried out in Rafah, noted the IDF statement.

Hamas said in a statement that the terrorist organization sought to hit Israel’s Mediterranean metropolis: 'We fired a large salvo at Tel Aviv in response to the Zionist massacres of civilians.'

The EU and U.S.-designated terrorist movement Hamas has for over a decade launched rockets at civilians in Israel, triggering a series of mini-wars with the Jewish state.

According to the IDF, 'Yesterday, IAF aircraft conducted an intelligence-based strike in the area of Rafah against significant terror targets, including senior terrorists in Hamas’ Judea and Samaria Wing who directed terror attacks in Judea and Samaria and carried out murderous attacks against Israeli civilians.'

The IDF added, 'The strike was carried out based on prior intelligence information regarding the presence of the senior Hamas terrorists at the site of the strike.'

The two Hamas leaders killed  were Yassin Rabia, the commander of Hamas’ leadership in Judea and Samaria (the biblical name for the West Bank), and Khaled Nagar, a senior official in Hamas who oversaw the Judea and Samaria wing.

The IDF statement, with a possible view toward alleged Hamas propaganda, also said, 'Claims that the strike was conducted using seven munitions weighing a ton are false. The strike was conducted using two munitions with a reduced warhead aimed specifically for a strike of these types of targets.'

Tor Wennesland, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, condemned the strike in a statement issued Monday. 'I condemn last night’s Israeli airstrikes which hit tents for displaced people in the southern Gaza city of Rafah and have tragically led to the reported loss of more than 35 Palestinian lives, including women and children, and dozens of injuries.'

He continued, 'While the IDF said it struck a Hamas installation and killed two senior Hamas militants in the strikes, I am deeply troubled by the deaths of so many women and children in an area where people have sought shelter.'

IDF spokesman Peter Lerner took to X to debunk a Hamas source who appeared in media reports to inflate the number of casualties and claimed the strike unfolded in the humanitarian area. 

Lerner wrote, 'Muhammad Abu Hani, quoted is a Hamas official. He appears to be the source of the widely reported claim that the IAF targeted the humanitarian zone. Is he also the source of the reports from the same ‘civil defense’ of 50 people killed in the strike? A number published by many of the world media. Fact: The strike never took place in the designated humanitarian zone.'

Reuters contributed to this report.


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