US condemns 'loss of life' in Rafah camp strike but says no change to policy

'This is not something that we've turned a blind eye to, nor has it been something we've ignored or neglected to raise with our Israeli counterparts,' says White House

08:08 - 29/05/2024 Wednesday
File photo
File photo

The White House condemned Tuesday the "loss of life" that resulted from an Israeli strike on a displaced persons camp in the southern Gaza city of Rafah over the weekend after dozens of Palestinians were killed and wounded.

Under repeated questioning by reporters, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said "we certainly condemn the loss of life" but maintained that Israel is continuing to carry out an investigation that he said would shed further light on the attack.

"We don't want to see a single more innocent life taken, and I kind of take a little offense at the question. No civilian casualties is the right number of civilian casualties," Kirby said after being asked how many "charred bodies" President Joe Biden would have to see -- a reference to images that emerged in the wake of the strike -- before he considers changes to US policy.

"This is not something that we've turned a blind eye to, nor has it been something we've ignored or neglected to raise with our Israeli counterparts this weekend as a result of this particular strike. Now they're investigating it. So let's let them investigate it and see what they come up with," he added.

At least 45 people were killed, mostly women and children, and nearly 250 injured in the strike on Sunday. It occurred near the logistics base of the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in Tal al-Sultan, said the Gaza-based Government Media Office.

Kirby maintained, however, that US support for Israel's ongoing war on the besieged Gaza Strip would not waver, saying Israel's actions so far do not constitute a "major ground operation" that President Biden has set as a "red line" for Washington's ongoing aid.

"We have not seen them do that at this point, but we're watching it very closely," he said. "Everything we're seeing, and we can't see everything, but everything that we can see tells us that they are not moving in in a major ground operation in population centers in the center of Rafah."

Israel's nearly eight-month war on Gaza has led to more than 36,000 deaths in the war-torn coastal enclave and has injured over 81,100.

A Hamas-led cross-border attack that precipitated the current conflict left around 1,200 people dead, with hundreds more taken to Gaza as hostages.

Israel's military campaign has turned much of the enclave of 2.3 million people into ruins, leaving most civilians homeless and at risk of famine.

Sunday's attack came despite a ruling by the International Court of Justice last week that ordered Israel to halt its offensive in Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians had sought refuge from the worsening conflict.

#john kirby
#White House
17 days ago