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Rafah airstrikes a "tragic mistake": Netanyahu's big acknowledgement

Rafah airstrikes a tragic mistake: Netanyahus big acknowledgement

Tel Aviv: After the horrific airstrikes on Gaza's Rafah, where the displaced refugees had taken shelter, killing at least 45 people, including women and children, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted on Monday that the operation was "a tragic mistake" Associated Press reported.

The attack carried out on a refugee centre put a tent camp on fire, charring its occupants to death. The incident fuelled the surging international criticism Israel was facing over its deadly offensive in Gaza for months, with even its closest allies expressing outrage at civilian deaths.

However, Israel repeats its claim that it adheres to international law despite facing scrutiny in the top courts of the world.

Also, Netanyahu did not elaborate on the error. Israel's military initially said it had carried out a precise airstrike on a Hamas compound, killing two senior militants. As details of the strike and fire emerged, the military said it had opened an investigation into the deaths of civilians.

Sunday night's attack helped push the overall Palestinian death toll in the war above 36,000, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and noncombatants in its tally.

"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."

At least 45 people were killed, according to the Gaza Health Ministry and the Palestinian Red Crescent rescue service. The ministry said the dead included at least 12 women, eight children and three older adults, with another three bodies burned beyond recognition.

In a separate development, Egypt's military said one of its soldiers was shot dead during an exchange of fire in the Rafah area without providing further details. Israel said it was in contact with Egyptian authorities, and both sides said they were investigating.

An initial investigation found that the soldier had responded to an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants, Egypt's state-owned Qahera TV reported.

Rafah, the southernmost Gaza city on the border with Egypt, had housed more than a million people — about half of Gaza's population — displaced from other parts of the territory.

Most have fled once again since Israel launched what it called a limited incursion there earlier this month. Hundreds of thousands are packed into squalid tent camps in and around the city.

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TAGS:Benjamin NetanyahuairstrikesRafahGaza war
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