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Explainer: How Palestinian resistance, intl. bodies reacted to Rafah massacre?

By Ivan Kesic

At least 50 displaced Palestinians from refugee camps were killed in the Israeli regime's latest massacre in the city of Rafah on Sunday night, taking the overall death toll in the besieged territory to 36,000.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza late on Sunday reported that the Israeli occupation forces committed a new slaughter in a supposedly safe area where thousands of people were displaced.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society also reported that its crews transported a large number of people killed or injured after the Israeli occupation targeted the refugee camps in Rafah in southern Gaza.

The refugee tents that came under the attack are located in the Tal al-Sultan area, west of the city of Rafah, on the extreme south of the Gaza Strip along the border with Egypt.

Eyewitnesses who survived the deadly carnage were quoted as saying that most of the victims were women and children, as well as that ambulance crews, were unable to recover all the charred bodies.

They further stated that the indiscriminate Israeli bombardment led to the complete destruction and burning of a large number of tents in the Tal al-Sultan refugee camp.

The Government Media Office in Gaza said an attack was carried out using seven Israeli 2,000-pound (one-ton) bombs, and that fatalities were expected to rise due to the severity of the aggression.

This Israeli attack came just a day after its military forces in Jabalia, Rafah and other areas suffered losses, and a significant number of their soldiers were reported killed, wounded and captured by the Al-Qassam Brigades’ fighters, the armed wing of the Hamas resistance movement.

Palestinian reactions

Reacting to the latest massacre, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas called it an "egregious affront" to a recent ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which ordered the Israeli regime to immediately halt its offensive against the southern Gaza city.

"In light of the horrific Zionist massacre this evening committed by the criminal occupation army against the tents of the displaced, we call on the masses of our people in the West Bank, Jerusalem, the occupied territories and abroad, to rise and march angrily against the ongoing Zionist massacre against our people in the sector,” the Gaza-based movement said in a statement.

"We hold the US administration and President Biden in particular fully responsible for this massacre," the statement noted, adding that the air strikes were "in complete defiance and disregard for the orders of the ICJ to halt Rafah military operations."

The movement called on everyone, especially neighboring Egypt, to pressure the Zionist regime into ending its occupation of the city's Rafah crossing, which serves as the main point of entry for vital supplies into the Gaza Strip and remains blocked.

Hamas also urged the international community, the United Nations, and all relevant parties to scramble to support the Palestinian nation in the face of the Israeli massacres in the past eight months.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another resistance group fighting against Israeli forces in Gaza, said the attacks on Rafah show "the depths of the military failure that Israel is trying to compensate in blood."

"The continuation of the enemy's crimes in the Gaza Strip is a result of the cover provided by the US administration, the positions of some European governments, and the weak stances of Arab regimes," the movement said in a statement.

Fatah Al-Intifada Movement also issued a statement against the heinous massacre, saying it “reflects the failure of its (Israeli regime) defeated army in confronting the Palestinian resistance, which deals them blow after blow.”

“The American administration and some European countries are partners in this massacre that targeted children, women, and the defenseless elderly,” said the resistance group.

“These massacres will not discourage our people from their steadfastness and rooting in their land, and resistance will remain legitimate in the face of the occupation until Palestine, all of Palestine, is liberated from the filth of this Zionist enemy. This massacre is a war crime added to the crimes of the occupation.”

The Gaza's Government Media Office regarded the attacks as "a clear message from Israel and the US government to the ICJ and the global community that the massacres against displaced persons and children will continue, and that breaking international law will not stop."

“These ongoing massacres against civilians and displaced people unequivocally confirm that we are facing a premeditated and deliberate act of genocide. The occupation army intentionally seeks to cause the maximum number of civilian and displaced martyrs who have fled from the fire of war and killing, only to be pursued and killed by the occupation’s missiles in cold blood,” the Media Office said.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza, in a statement, affirmed that “never before in history has such a large assembly of tools for mass killing been employed collectively before the eyes of the world.”

“The population is being deprived of water, food, medicine, electricity, and fuel, with infrastructure being crushed, all institutions destroyed, sanitation disrupted, epidemics spreading, the healthcare system obliterated, the siege tightened, crossings closed, and the entry of supplies and medical delegations prevented,” it said in a statement.

International reactions

Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, reacted to the "horror" created by the Israeli regime in Rafah, calling for pressure on Tel Aviv.

"The Gaza genocide will not easily end without external pressure: Israel must face sanctions, justice, suspension of agreements, trade, partnership and investments, as well as participation in international forums," she said in a post on social media.

Balakrishnan Rajagopal, the UN special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, also denounced the latest massacre carried out by the Israeli regime in the besieged territory.

"Attacking women and children while they cower in their shelters in Rafah is a monstrous atrocity," he wrote in a post on social media, urging a concerted global action to stop Israel’s actions now.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said it was horrified by information coming out of Rafah about the Israeli attacks on tents belonging to displaced Palestinians.

"There are reports of mass casualties, including children and women among those killed. Gaza is hell on Earth, images from last night are yet another testament to that," the UNRWA wrote on the X platform.

Action Aid, the British chapter of an international relief organization, reported several fatalities and stated that it was "outraged and heartbroken" by recent Israeli attacks in Rafah.

"We are outraged and heartbroken by the recent attacks in West Rafah, where Israeli fighter jets launched eight missiles at makeshift shelters housing internally displaced persons next to UNRWA warehouses stocking vital aid," the statement said.

"These shelters were supposed to be safe havens for innocent civilians, yet they became targets of brutal violence.”

 Heidi Matthews, a Harvard University professor, in a post on X, said two days after the ICJ ordered Israel to halt its offensive on Rafah, it attacked a ‘humanitarian area’ in western Rafah.

“The area bombed had not been included in any of the Rafah evacuation orders and was a designated 'humanitarian area'. There is nowhere safe in Gaza,” she wrote.

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