AOC calls Israeli attack on Rafah camp ‘an indefensible atrocity’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) blasted an Israeli strike on Rafah that killed at least 45 people over the weekend as “an indefensible atrocity,” as criticism rises of the Israeli military operation in the southern Gaza city.

The Israeli strike on the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah targeted a humanitarian zone filled with tents, where Israel’s military previously instructed displaced Palestinians to shelter from the ongoing war against militant group Hamas, the Gaza Health Ministry said. The Israeli military claimed the strike killed two senior Hamas leaders.

“The IDF’s attack on a tent camp of innocents in Rafah is an indefensible atrocity,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote Monday on the social platform X. “This was done in open defiance of President Biden’s red line and the ICJ’s call for a ceasefire.”

She added that it is “long past due” for Biden to “live up to his word” and stop military aid shipments to Israel, following through on a threat made earlier this month in an attempt to prevent Israeli attacks on Rafah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the strike a “tragic mistake” and called for an investigation into the civilian deaths Monday.

“Despite our utmost efforts not to harm innocent civilians, last night, there was a tragic mistake,” Netanyahu said Monday in an address to Israel’s parliament. “We are investigating the incident and will obtain a conclusion, because this is our policy.”

The attack comes just days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to stop its operations in Rafah, the last remaining major settlement in Gaza that has not been invaded by the Israeli military.

The strike was widely denounced, as criticism rises on the Israeli military operation in Rafah. A White House National Security Council spokesperson told Axios on Monday that the attack was “heartbreaking.”

“Israel has a right to go after Hamas… but as we’ve been clear, Israel must take every precaution possible to protect civilians,” the spokesperson said. “We are actively engaging the IDF and partners on the ground to assess what happened.”

French President Emmanuel Macron used the strike as an opportunity to again call for a cease-fire in the conflict.

“These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians,” Macron wrote in a post on X. “I call for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire.”

The Israeli military has slowly encroached on Rafah, despite strong warnings from the Biden administration.

More than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people are believed to be sheltering in Rafah, and more than 80 percent of the territory’s population overall are displaced from their homes. The U.N. said famine has begun in parts of the region as civilians struggle to get access to humanitarian aid.

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