Deadly Israeli airstrike didn’t cross red line – US

The US will not make any “policy changes” after 45 Palestinians were killed in an inferno at a refugee camp, John Kirby has said

The US will not stop arms shipments to Israel in response to a recent airstrike on a refugee camp in Rafah, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby has told reporters. The US does not consider Israel’s operations in Rafah to be an invasion, Kirby added.

At least 45 Palestinians were killed when Israeli jets bombed the southern Gazan city of Rafah on Sunday, causing a large fire at a camp housing displaced people. The Israeli military insisted that it used “precision munitions” to kill two Hamas commanders, but media reports suggest that shrapnel from the strike ignited a fuel tank near the intended target.

“As a result of this strike on Sunday, I have no policy changes to speak to,” Kirby said at a briefing on Tuesday. “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.”

“There’s not like a measuring stick here or a quota” to determine how many dead civilians it would take for the US to punish Israel, Kirby added.

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Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden said that he would halt shipments of bombs and artillery shells to Israel if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were to launch a ground invasion of Rafah, where more than a million displaced Palestinians are sheltering. While Israeli forces have sent tanks into Rafah’s eastern neighborhoods and taken control of the border crossing between the city and Egypt, Kirby said that Washington does not consider these operations a full-scale invasion.

“We still don’t believe that a major ground operation in Rafah is warranted,” he said. “We still don’t want to see the Israelis, as we say, smash into Rafah with large units over large pieces of territory. We still believe that, and we haven’t seen that at this point.”

Sunday’s airstrike triggered a wave of international condemnation, and intensified calls for Israel to cease operations in Rafah. Kirby acknowledged the criticism, stating that “it’s not in Israel’s best interest” to become “increasingly isolated on the world stage.”

In a speech in parliament on Monday, Netanyahu called the strike “a tragic mistake,” and promised that it would be investigated. 

READ MORE: Israeli tanks reportedly reach center of Rafah

Hours later, however, Israeli shelling and airstrikes killed another 16 people in the same area of Rafah, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. Later on Tuesday afternoon, an Israeli drone strike killed at least 21 people near a UN field hospital west of the city, Gaza’s health ministry said.

Israel declared war on Hamas after the militants killed around 1,200 people and took more than 200 hostages in a surprise attack on the Jewish state on October 7. More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in the months of fighting that followed, according to the latest figures from Gaza’s health ministry.

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