Refugees International Condemns Israeli Military Strike on Rafah Tent Camp as Civilian Death Toll Climbs

Statement from Refugees International:  

“The horrific bombardment of a tent camp for forcibly displaced Palestinians in Rafah that killed more than 50 people and injured 200 others bears the clear hallmarks of a war crime. The incident, which was conducted with U.S.-supplied weapons manufactured by Boeing, painfully reinforces why humanitarian organizations, including ours, have long warned that a military operation in Rafah would be catastrophic for civilians. It is only the latest in a string of atrocities over eight months of war in which Israel has responded to Hamas attacks with reciprocal violations of international humanitarian law. Leaders around the world have rightly condemned the attack; the United States shamefully has not. The Biden administration’s statements that this attack does not violate the President’s ‘red line’ on a Rafah offensive is a clear signal that his red line is meaningless. 

This strike appears to constitute a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions. While the Israeli military has argued that it was pursuing valid Hamas military targets in retaliation for Hamas’ earlier rocket attack on Tel Aviv, that does not justify choosing tactics that were certain to cause excessive harm to civilians. Even in pursuit of valid military objectives, the Geneva Conventions clearly prohibit indiscriminate attacks that are likely to cause excessive harm to civilian populations, and the Conventions require a belligerent to take precautions that avoid such civilian harm. Conducting airstrikes on a tent camp for displaced people falls egregiously short of these legal obligations. Refugees International calls for an independent investigation into the incident and accountability for those responsible.

The Biden administration’s inaction in response to this horrific event, and its larger refusal to constrain the Rafah offensive that has displaced 1 million people and shut down most humanitarian aid flow into Gaza, is completely indefensible. It is far past time for the United States to halt offensive weapons transfers to Israel, cease providing any rhetorical or diplomatic coverage to Netanyahu’s conduct of the war, and use all of its power to seek an immediate ceasefire, the release of hostages, and a surge of humanitarian support.”

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Featured image: A Palestinian child stands amid destruction following the bombing of a tent camp for displaced people in Rafah, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images)