European leaders have roundly condemned Israel's airstrike on Rafah overnight on Sunday which saw some 45 people killed as an encampment for displaced Palestinians burned to ashes. Israel's Defence Forces (IDF) yesterday declared they had launched a 'precise strike' on a Hamas compound and killed two high-ranking Hamas officials. But the bombs whipped up a ferocious blaze that tore through tents in the Tel al-Sultan neighbourhood, leaving dozens with no escape.

European leaders have roundly condemned Israel’s airstrike on Rafah overnight on Sunday which saw some 45 people killed as an encampment for displaced Palestinians burned to ashes. Israel’s Defence Forces (IDF) yesterday declared they had launched a ‘precise strike’ on a Hamas compound and killed two high-ranking Hamas officials. But the bombs whipped up a ferocious blaze that tore through tents in the Tel al-Sultan neighbourhood, leaving dozens with no escape.

'These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians. I call for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire,' French President Emmanuel Macron (pictured) said, adding he was 'outraged' by the strike. Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto said bombings like the one in Rafah will only serve to compound hatred in the region for the Jewish state. 'Israel with this choice is spreading hatred, rooting hatred that will involve their children and grandchildren. I would have preferred another decision,' he told SKY TG24. 'This can no longer be justified,' he added. And the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he was 'horrified' at Israel's actions in Rafah, which the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) today said had turned the city into 'hell on Earth'. But Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue waging war on Hamas in Gaza even as he admitted the devastating airstrike on Tel al-Sultan was a 'mishap' and a 'tragic mistake'.

‘These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians. I call for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire,’ French President Emmanuel Macron (pictured) said, adding he was ‘outraged’ by the strike. Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto said bombings like the one in Rafah will only serve to compound hatred in the region for the Jewish state. ‘Israel with this choice is spreading hatred, rooting hatred that will involve their children and grandchildren. I would have preferred another decision,’ he told SKY TG24. ‘This can no longer be justified,’ he added. And the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he was ‘horrified’ at Israel’s actions in Rafah, which the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) today said had turned the city into ‘hell on Earth’. But Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue waging war on Hamas in Gaza even as he admitted the devastating airstrike on Tel al-Sultan was a ‘mishap’ and a ‘tragic mistake’.

As if to prove his point, a contingent of Israeli tanks and troops were spotted in the centre of Rafah for the first time this morning after a three-week-long ground offensive . Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles mounted with machineguns were spotted near Al-Awda mosque, a central Rafah landmark, according to accounts from several witnesses and a Palestinian security source who spoke to AFP. The Israeli military said its forces continued to operate in the Rafah area, but did not comment on the reported advances into the city centre. It comes as Ireland, Norway and Spain drew the ire of Israeli officials after formally declaring their recognition of a Palestinian state today.

As if to prove his point, a contingent of Israeli tanks and troops were spotted in the centre of Rafah for the first time this morning after a three-week-long ground offensive . Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles mounted with machineguns were spotted near Al-Awda mosque, a central Rafah landmark, according to accounts from several witnesses and a Palestinian security source who spoke to AFP. The Israeli military said its forces continued to operate in the Rafah area, but did not comment on the reported advances into the city centre. It comes as Ireland, Norway and Spain drew the ire of Israeli officials after formally declaring their recognition of a Palestinian state today.

The three European countries believe their initiative has strong symbolic impact, which is likely to encourage others to follow in their footsteps, and is a key step toward achieving eventual peace. But Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz expressed rage at the decision this morning, accusing Sanchez of being a 'partner to incitement' to Jewish 'genocide'. Meanwhile, Israel's brutal strike on Rafah on Sunday night only added to the surging international criticism Israel has faced over its war with Hamas, with even its closest allies expressing outrage at civilian casualties as the reported Palestinian death toll crossed 36,000, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Dozens of people were trapped as the flames tore through the makeshift housing and flimsy tents, condemning them to a horrific death.

The three European countries believe their initiative has strong symbolic impact, which is likely to encourage others to follow in their footsteps, and is a key step toward achieving eventual peace. But Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz expressed rage at the decision this morning, accusing Sanchez of being a ‘partner to incitement’ to Jewish ‘genocide’. Meanwhile, Israel’s brutal strike on Rafah on Sunday night only added to the surging international criticism Israel has faced over its war with Hamas, with even its closest allies expressing outrage at civilian casualties as the reported Palestinian death toll crossed 36,000, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Dozens of people were trapped as the flames tore through the makeshift housing and flimsy tents, condemning them to a horrific death.

Shocking videos circulating on social media appeared to show the charred remains of adults and children being pulled out of the rubble overnight. 'This happened with nowhere safe to go & amidst bombardments, lack of food & water, piles of waste & unsuitable living conditions,' the UNRWA posted on X. 'Day after day, providing assistance & protection becomes nearly impossible.' The UN Security Council is set to convene for an emergency meeting today to discuss the strike as the UN human rights chief Volker Turk expressed his 'horror at the further loss of civilian life in Gaza'. Yet the Israeli Prime Minister's resolve appears unwavering, as he declared in parliament: 'I don't intend to end the war before every goal has been achieved.'

Shocking videos circulating on social media appeared to show the charred remains of adults and children being pulled out of the rubble overnight. ‘This happened with nowhere safe to go & amidst bombardments, lack of food & water, piles of waste & unsuitable living conditions,’ the UNRWA posted on X. ‘Day after day, providing assistance & protection becomes nearly impossible.’ The UN Security Council is set to convene for an emergency meeting today to discuss the strike as the UN human rights chief Volker Turk expressed his ‘horror at the further loss of civilian life in Gaza’. Yet the Israeli Prime Minister’s resolve appears unwavering, as he declared in parliament: ‘I don’t intend to end the war before every goal has been achieved.’

The Palestinian Red Crescent said its ambulance crews transported 'a large number' of people killed and injured in the strikes on Sunday night as dark footage showed badly burned bodies being piled up out of reach of the flames. The Palestinian Authority presidency in the West Bank called it a 'heinous massacre', accusing Israeli forces of 'deliberately targeting' the tents of displaced people. 'We pulled out people who were in an unbearable state,' said Mohammed Abuassa, who rushed to the scene in the north-western neighbourhood of Tel al-Sultan. 'We pulled out children who were in pieces. We pulled out young and elderly people. The fire in the camp was unreal.' The Gaza Health Ministry said around half of the dead were women, children and older adults. On Monday, barefoot children poked at the blackened debris as searches continued.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said its ambulance crews transported ‘a large number’ of people killed and injured in the strikes on Sunday night as dark footage showed badly burned bodies being piled up out of reach of the flames. The Palestinian Authority presidency in the West Bank called it a ‘heinous massacre’, accusing Israeli forces of ‘deliberately targeting’ the tents of displaced people. ‘We pulled out people who were in an unbearable state,’ said Mohammed Abuassa, who rushed to the scene in the north-western neighbourhood of Tel al-Sultan. ‘We pulled out children who were in pieces. We pulled out young and elderly people. The fire in the camp was unreal.’ The Gaza Health Ministry said around half of the dead were women, children and older adults. On Monday, barefoot children poked at the blackened debris as searches continued.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron took a more measured stance than European colleagues, calling for a swift investigation into Sunday's strike. Lord Cameron said on X: 'Deeply distressing scenes following the airstrikes in Rafah this weekend. 'The IDF's investigation must be swift, comprehensive & transparent. 'We urgently need a deal to get hostages out & aid in, with a pause in fighting to allow work towards a long-term sustainable ceasefire.' The Israeli military's top legal official said authorities were examining the strikes and that the military regrets the loss of civilian life. Military Advocate General Major General Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi said such incidents occur 'in a war of such scope and intensity'. Speaking to an Israeli lawyers' conference, Tomer-Yerushalmi said Israel has launched 70 criminal investigations into incidents that aroused suspicions of international law violations, including the deaths of civilians, the conditions at a detention facility holding suspected Palestinian militants and the deaths of some inmates in Israeli custody.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron took a more measured stance than European colleagues, calling for a swift investigation into Sunday’s strike. Lord Cameron said on X: ‘Deeply distressing scenes following the airstrikes in Rafah this weekend. ‘The IDF’s investigation must be swift, comprehensive & transparent. ‘We urgently need a deal to get hostages out & aid in, with a pause in fighting to allow work towards a long-term sustainable ceasefire.’ The Israeli military’s top legal official said authorities were examining the strikes and that the military regrets the loss of civilian life. Military Advocate General Major General Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi said such incidents occur ‘in a war of such scope and intensity’. Speaking to an Israeli lawyers’ conference, Tomer-Yerushalmi said Israel has launched 70 criminal investigations into incidents that aroused suspicions of international law violations, including the deaths of civilians, the conditions at a detention facility holding suspected Palestinian militants and the deaths of some inmates in Israeli custody.

She said incidents of 'violence, property crimes and looting' were also being examined. Israel has long maintained it has an independent judiciary capable of investigating and prosecuting abuses. But rights groups say Israeli authorities routinely fail to fully investigate violence against Palestinians and that even when soldiers are held accountable the punishment is usually light. Sunday's deadly strike came two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah, where more than half of Gaza 's population had sought shelter before Israel's recent incursion. The attack, caught on tape by refugees on the ground, resulted in heavy destruction and flames last night. It left civilians reeling this morning, with photos showing Palestinians searching through burned out tents and makeshift camps for food. Qatar, a key mediator between Israel and Hamas in attempts to secure a ceasefire and the release of hostages held by Hamas, said the strikes could 'complicate' talks.

She said incidents of ‘violence, property crimes and looting’ were also being examined. Israel has long maintained it has an independent judiciary capable of investigating and prosecuting abuses. But rights groups say Israeli authorities routinely fail to fully investigate violence against Palestinians and that even when soldiers are held accountable the punishment is usually light. Sunday’s deadly strike came two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah, where more than half of Gaza ‘s population had sought shelter before Israel’s recent incursion. The attack, caught on tape by refugees on the ground, resulted in heavy destruction and flames last night. It left civilians reeling this morning, with photos showing Palestinians searching through burned out tents and makeshift camps for food. Qatar, a key mediator between Israel and Hamas in attempts to secure a ceasefire and the release of hostages held by Hamas, said the strikes could ‘complicate’ talks.

Negotiations, which appear to be restarting, have faltered repeatedly over Hamas's demand for a lasting truce and the withdrawal of Israeli forces, terms Israeli leaders have publicly rejected. Neighbouring Egypt and Jordan, which made peace with Israel decades ago, also condemned the Rafah strikes. Egypt's Foreign Ministry described the strike on Tel al-Sultan as a 'new and blatant violation of the rules of humanitarian international law'. Jordan's Foreign Ministry called it a 'war crime '. The EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell said this morning as EU ministers met their Arab counterparts that a ruling made by a UN court for Israel to stop its invasion of Gaza immediately must be implemented. Borrell said today: 'We have to express not only respect, but to ask for the implementation of the decision of the court. This is really a dilemma how the international community can... force implementation of the decision.' He added that EU ministers were also set to discuss relaunching a mission suspended back in 2007 to monitor the crossing after calls for it to do so from regional players including Israel.

Negotiations, which appear to be restarting, have faltered repeatedly over Hamas’s demand for a lasting truce and the withdrawal of Israeli forces, terms Israeli leaders have publicly rejected. Neighbouring Egypt and Jordan, which made peace with Israel decades ago, also condemned the Rafah strikes. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry described the strike on Tel al-Sultan as a ‘new and blatant violation of the rules of humanitarian international law’. Jordan’s Foreign Ministry called it a ‘war crime ‘. The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said this morning as EU ministers met their Arab counterparts that a ruling made by a UN court for Israel to stop its invasion of Gaza immediately must be implemented. Borrell said today: ‘We have to express not only respect, but to ask for the implementation of the decision of the court. This is really a dilemma how the international community can… force implementation of the decision.’ He added that EU ministers were also set to discuss relaunching a mission suspended back in 2007 to monitor the crossing after calls for it to do so from regional players including Israel.

The EU's top diplomat said he expected to get a preliminary mandate from ministers to press ahead with planning for the mission. 'But it's not only us who have to decide - the Egyptians, Palestinian Israelis,' he said. 'We need to increase the number of staff and we need to have an agreement with everybody involved.' Washington has also taken a tougher line with its close ally as outrage over the war and US support for Israel has become a major issue for President Joe Biden, seeking re-election in a battle against Donald Trump. The United Nations has warned of looming famine in besieged Gaza, where most hospitals are no longer functioning. Last Monday, the prosecutor at the ICC said he was seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu and his defence minister as well as for three top Hamas figures. And on Friday, the UN's International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt any operation in Rafah that could bring about 'the physical destruction' of the Palestinians.

The EU’s top diplomat said he expected to get a preliminary mandate from ministers to press ahead with planning for the mission. ‘But it’s not only us who have to decide – the Egyptians, Palestinian Israelis,’ he said. ‘We need to increase the number of staff and we need to have an agreement with everybody involved.’ Washington has also taken a tougher line with its close ally as outrage over the war and US support for Israel has become a major issue for President Joe Biden, seeking re-election in a battle against Donald Trump. The United Nations has warned of looming famine in besieged Gaza, where most hospitals are no longer functioning. Last Monday, the prosecutor at the ICC said he was seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu and his defence minister as well as for three top Hamas figures. And on Friday, the UN’s International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt any operation in Rafah that could bring about ‘the physical destruction’ of the Palestinians.

Hamas's armed wing said Sunday that it targeted Tel Aviv 'with a large rocket barrage in response to the Zionist massacres against civilians'. 'Hamas launched these rockets from near two mosques in Rafah,' Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said. The salvo sent people scrambling for shelter but there were no reports of injuries. Israel's army said Sunday at least eight rockets were fired towards central areas of the country from Rafah, with strikes targeting the commercial hub of Tel Aviv for the first time in months. Fighting has recently centred on Rafah, where Israel's military launched a ground operation in early May despite widespread opposition over concerns for civilians sheltering there. Netanyahu vowed to pursue Israel's offensive ahead of a war cabinet meeting amid intense diplomacy to forge a truce and a hostage-release deal. He has long rejected Hamas's demand for a permanent end to the conflict triggered by the Palestinian militant group's October 7 attack.

Hamas’s armed wing said Sunday that it targeted Tel Aviv ‘with a large rocket barrage in response to the Zionist massacres against civilians’. ‘Hamas launched these rockets from near two mosques in Rafah,’ Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said. The salvo sent people scrambling for shelter but there were no reports of injuries. Israel’s army said Sunday at least eight rockets were fired towards central areas of the country from Rafah, with strikes targeting the commercial hub of Tel Aviv for the first time in months. Fighting has recently centred on Rafah, where Israel’s military launched a ground operation in early May despite widespread opposition over concerns for civilians sheltering there. Netanyahu vowed to pursue Israel’s offensive ahead of a war cabinet meeting amid intense diplomacy to forge a truce and a hostage-release deal. He has long rejected Hamas’s demand for a permanent end to the conflict triggered by the Palestinian militant group’s October 7 attack.

A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the war cabinet would 'discuss a hostage release deal' on Sunday. Before the meeting, Netanyahu's office said Hamas's chief in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, 'continues to demand the end of the war, the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip and leaving Hamas in place, so that it will be able to carry out the atrocities of October 7 again and again'. 'Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly opposes this,' a statement said. EU members Ireland and Spain, and also Norway, have said they will recognise a Palestinian state from Tuesday, drawing furious Israeli condemnation. 'In order to make peace, we need a strong Palestinian Authority, not a weaker one,' said the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who met in Brussels with Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Mustafa. Mustafa, whose government is based in the occupied West Bank, said the 'first priority' was to support the people in Gaza, especially through a ceasefire, and then 'rebuilding the institutions of the Palestinian Authority' in the territory after Hamas seized it from the PA in 2007. The Israeli official had said Saturday that 'there is an intention to renew these talks this week' after negotiations involving US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators stalled in early May.

A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the war cabinet would ‘discuss a hostage release deal’ on Sunday. Before the meeting, Netanyahu’s office said Hamas’s chief in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, ‘continues to demand the end of the war, the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip and leaving Hamas in place, so that it will be able to carry out the atrocities of October 7 again and again’. ‘Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly opposes this,’ a statement said. EU members Ireland and Spain, and also Norway, have said they will recognise a Palestinian state from Tuesday, drawing furious Israeli condemnation. ‘In order to make peace, we need a strong Palestinian Authority, not a weaker one,’ said the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who met in Brussels with Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Mustafa. Mustafa, whose government is based in the occupied West Bank, said the ‘first priority’ was to support the people in Gaza, especially through a ceasefire, and then ‘rebuilding the institutions of the Palestinian Authority’ in the territory after Hamas seized it from the PA in 2007. The Israeli official had said Saturday that ‘there is an intention to renew these talks this week’ after negotiations involving US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators stalled in early May.

Around 80 per cent of Gaza's 2.3 million people have fled their homes, severe hunger is widespread and UN officials say parts of the territory are experiencing famine. Hamas triggered the war with its October 7 attack into Israel, in which Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead. Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,984 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry. As the war grinds on, the families of hostages still held by militants have piled pressure on Netanyahu to secure a deal to free them. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel must take over Rafah to eliminate Hamas' remaining battalions and achieve 'total victory' over the militants, who recently regrouped in other parts of Gaza where the military has operated.

Around 80 per cent of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes, severe hunger is widespread and UN officials say parts of the territory are experiencing famine. Hamas triggered the war with its October 7 attack into Israel, in which Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead. Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,984 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry. As the war grinds on, the families of hostages still held by militants have piled pressure on Netanyahu to secure a deal to free them. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel must take over Rafah to eliminate Hamas’ remaining battalions and achieve ‘total victory’ over the militants, who recently regrouped in other parts of Gaza where the military has operated.

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