White House Says Israeli Strike in Rafah Not a Breach of ‘Red Line’

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu described the airstrike in Rafah as a ’tragic mistake.’

WASHINGTON—The White House indicated on May 28 that the recent Israeli strike in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which resulted in the deaths of at least 45 Palestinians, has not crossed the red line set by President Joe Biden to halt arms shipments to Israel.

“As a result of this strike on Sunday, I have no policy changes to speak to,” White House National Council spokesperson John Kirby said during a press briefing.

“It just happened. The Israelis are going to investigate it. We’re going to be taking great interest in what they find in that investigation. And we’ll see where it goes from there,” he added.

Israeli airstrikes on Sunday night killed at least 45 people, the majority of whom were sheltering in tents in Rafah after being displaced by the ongoing conflict. Israel’s military stated that two senior terrorists were also killed during the attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the airstrike in Rafah as a “tragic mistake” and promised that his government would investigate the incident further.

“Despite our utmost efforts not to harm innocent civilians, last night there was a tragic mistake,” Mr. Netanyahu told Israel’s parliament on May 27. “We are investigating the incident and will obtain a conclusion because this is our policy.”

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During the press briefing, reporters repeatedly questioned Mr. Kirby on why Palestinian deaths were not considered a breach of the red line.

“We don’t want to see a major ground operation [in Rafah]. We haven’t seen that at this point,” Mr. Kirby said.

On May 28, the Israeli Defense Forces released their preliminary findings, which suggest that the fire was caused by a secondary explosion rather than the initial strike.

“We’re glad that the Israeli Defense Forces are doing a full investigation, which we believe is going to be very important to try to prevent future such mishaps,” Mr. Kirby said.

President Biden declared recently that the United States will not “supply the weapons and artillery shells” to Israel if it decides to enter population centers in Rafah to clear out the remaining Hamas bases.

“I made it clear,” President Biden told CNN on May 8. “If they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons.”

He also stated at the time that Israel had not yet crossed his red line, meaning that it had not initiated a large-scale invasion in Rafah.

The Israeli airstrikes occurred two days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) ordered the Israeli military to halt all its military operations in Rafah.

Mr. Netanyahu stated on May 27 that his government would not bow to domestic or international pressures to abandon its goal of eliminating Hamas.

“Let me be clear: I will not yield or surrender. I will not end the war before achieving all our goals. Our fallen heroes will not have died in vain,” Mr. Netanyahu said.

President Biden has repeatedly expressed concerns that a large-scale military operation in Rafah could risk harming civilians. The city served as the last sanctuary in the Gaza Strip for nearly 1.4 million displaced Palestinians.

According to the United Nations, however, nearly one million Palestinians have evacuated Rafah since the Israeli military operation began on May 6.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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