Israelis celebrate Rafah massacre as attack prompts international outcry

Israelis celebrate Rafah massacre as attack prompts international outcry

VOA reports:

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees described the situation in Gaza as “hell on earth” Monday, following an Israeli attack in the southern city of Rafah that Gaza’s health ministry said killed at least 45 people.

“Information coming out of Rafah about further attacks on families seeking shelter is horrifying,” UNRWA said. “There are reports of mass casualties including children and women among those killed.”

Israel’s military said it was reviewing an incident in Rafah following reports that an Israeli attack Sunday that it says killed two senior Hamas officials also set off a fire.

The Gaza health ministry said the attack ignited tents in an area sheltering displaced people, and that in addition to the dead, dozens of people were injured.

The Israeli military described its attack as a precise airstrike that killed Yassin Rabia, the Hamas chief of staff for the West Bank.

Qatar’s foreign ministry said Monday the attack could complicate efforts to mediate a cease-fire and the return of hostages held in Gaza.

French President Emmanuel Macron called for an immediate cease-fire and “full respect for international law.”

“Outraged by the Israeli strikes that have killed many displaced persons in Rafah,” Macron said on social media. “These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians.”

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell cited the attack and said Monday the international community faces the dilemma of how it can “enforce implementation” of last week’s International Court of Justice order calling on Israel to immediately halt its offensive in Rafah. [Continue reading…]

Middle East Eye reports:

Soon after an Israeli air strike slammed into a camp in southern Gaza’s Rafah on Sunday night, tearing through the bodies of dozens of Palestinian men, women and children, and igniting a ferocious blaze, video footage of the aftermath drew horror and condemnation worldwide.

In Israel, however, prominent figures and members of the public viewed the massacre and the fire as the perfect way to celebrate a religious holiday.

Sunday was Lag BaOmer, a Jewish holiday where people across Israel light bonfires as a representation of spiritual light brought by Shimon bar Yochai, a revered second-century rabbi.

Usually, the day’s most prominent celebration is found on Mount Meron at Shimon bar Yochai’s tomb, where a large bonfire is lit and tens of thousands of worshippers gather in one of the largest mass events in the Jewish world.

But this weekend, security concerns restricted the attendance to just 30 people, prompting Yinon Magal, a senior journalist at Israel’s Channel 14, to post images of the Gaza massacre with the caption: “The main lighting of the year in Rafah.” He later removed the post on X.

Another journalist, Naveh Dromi at i24, reposted a video of the blaze under the caption “Happy Holiday”. That post was also later removed.

Yoav Eliasi, a far-right rapper and activist also known by his stage name “The Shadow”, posted videos of the Rafah fire on Telegram that also presented the incident as a Lag BaOmer bonfire.

On Sunday night and Monday morning, Israeli social media was abuzz, sharing jokes and memes mocking the Rafah massacre. [Continue reading…]

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