‘Massacre of the Tents’ – NYT Investigation Debunks Israeli Claims on Rafah Airstrike

A New York Times investigation debunked Israeli claims about their Rafah massacre. (Photo: screen grab)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

A New York Times investigation published on Friday debunked Israeli claims about their Rafah massacre, confirming it targeted a well-known refugee camp and caused significant civilian casualties.

The Tents Massacre

At least 45 civilians were killed and many others were injured, mostly children and women, when Israel bombed tents of displaced people northwest of the city of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, on May 26.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza said in a statement on that day that Israel’s massacre happened in a supposedly safe area where thousands of people were displaced.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported that its crews transported a large number of bodies and injured after the occupation targeted the tents of the displaced in Rafah.

Rafah Massacre – Israel Targets Camp for Displaced Palestinians

The camp that was bombed is located in the Tal al-Sultan area, west of the city of Rafah. Sources reported that a large number of bodies of martyrs and wounded, the majority of whom were children and women, arrived at the Tal al-Sultan clinic.

Eyewitnesses indicated that the bombing led to the destruction and burning of a large number of tents in the Rafah camp.

The massacre sparked international outrage and the Israeli military denied striking the camp. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to the civilian deaths as a “tragic accident.” Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military spokesman, claimed there were “no tents in the immediate vicinity” of the targets.

An investigation conducted by the New York Times, however, debunked Israeli claims and confirmed that Israel dropped “250-pound bombs on temporary structures in the camp”. 

‘Destruction Indescribable’ – Majority of Buildings in Gaza Destroyed by Israel

Israeli Claims Debunked

“Lethal shrapnel hurtled in every direction and soon a fire was raging. By morning, dozens of Palestinians had been killed,” The New York Times reported on Friday. 

The “thorough investigation” was reportedly conducted by interviewing witnesses and munitions experts, reviewing videos, and analyzing satellite imagery to reconstruct the event.

Maj. Nir Dinar, another Israeli military spokesman, told The Times that Israeli forces were unaware that the targeted compound was serving displaced people.

However, the investigation revealed that “Israel bombed targets inside a camp that had existed for months, sheltering hundreds of people displaced by the war.” 

“The analysis raises questions about an assessment the Israeli military said it made before launching the strike that it was unlikely to harm civilians,” the paper reported.

Before Israel’s operation in Rafah began on May 6, the military issued evacuation orders for neighborhoods east of the city center but not for the area including this camp, which housed up to 350 families.

‘Israel is Committing Genocide, US is Complicit’ – Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention

The attack was carried out by Israeli jets, which reportedly deployed two American-made GBU-39 bombs, each weighing about 250 pounds and carrying 37 pounds of explosives. 

GBU-39 bombs are marketed as “low collateral damage” weapons and this led White House spokesman John Kirby to say that this was “certainly indicative of an effort to be discreet and targeted and precise”.

However, the investigation revealed that “the combination of weapon, location and timing caused destruction well beyond the target.” 

“Two videos posted to social media captured the moment of the strike, with metadata from the videos suggesting it occurred at 8:47 p.m,” the report stated, adding that “two minutes later, footage filmed from afar revealed large flames.”

Videos taken immediately after the strike showed “people running and screaming, pulling charred bodies from flaming wreckage, clambering over twisted metal as they tried to save the living. A man held up the headless body of a small child.”

According to the Israeli army, the deaths were caused by the fire. He speculated that  “weapons ‘which we did not know of” might have been stored nearby and detonated.” 

He also mentioned that the military was reviewing social media videos showing “secondary explosions,” though the NYT found no evidence of secondary explosions in the “dozens of videos” it reviewed.

‘One Million Palestinians Have Fled Rafah’ amid Israel’s Invasion – UNRWA

Ongoing Genocide

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7. 

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 37,266 Palestinians have been killed, and 85,102 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children. 

New Atrocity in Rafah – 20 Palestinians Killed in Displacement Camp Bombing

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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