It appears that the Israeli attack on Rafah does not cross the “red line” set by Biden

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the administration mourns the loss of life, but said the White House was awaiting the results of the Israeli investigation into the matter.

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WASHINGTON — The Biden administration reiterated its support for Israel, saying Israel’s deadly operation that killed at least 45 people in the Gaza Strip over the weekend does not constitute a major ground incursion that crosses any U.S. red lines.

“The Israelis said this was a tragic mistake,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House.

Earlier Tuesday, an IDF spokesman said a secondary explosion likely set nearby tents on fire, rather than the initial attack. About 45 Palestinians were killed in the fire that broke out on Sunday in a makeshift refugee camp near the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Israel targeted two Hamas activists in an operation on Sunday, and both were killed, according to a military spokesman from the Middle Eastern country. The attack occurred in the Tel al-Sultan neighborhood, where thousands of Palestinians were taking shelter. More than half were dead Women, children and the elderlyAccording to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, which is run by Hamas.

Kirby said the administration mourns the loss of life but stopped short of condemning the actions of the Israeli government.

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“This clearly reflects the challenge posed by military airstrikes in densely populated areas of Gaza, including Rafah, due to the risk of civilian casualties,” Kirby said, adding that the Israeli investigation would be important in preventing “such unfortunate incidents in the future.”

This incident is one of the bloodiest incidents in nearly eight months since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.

Although the United States does not conduct its own investigations, Kirby stressed that the Israeli government has conducted such investigations in the past and reported its findings — and even held people accountable for such fatal mistakes.

He added: “Let’s see what the investigation yields.” “If we did, I think we would like the opportunity to investigate it and find out what happened.”

The weekend strike also does not appear to have crossed a “red line” that would prevent the Biden administration from helping Israel. President Joe Biden had previously indicated that he would withhold additional US military aid if the Middle Eastern country launched a major ground invasion in Rafah.

Kirby stressed that Israel has not yet carried out a comprehensive incursion into Rafah, but has instead sought to neutralize Hamas leaders through targeted strikes.

“It’s different. The Israelis said they used 37-pound bombs and precision-guided munitions,” Kirby said Tuesday.

He added: “If this is indeed what they used, then this is certainly indicative of an effort to be conservative, purposeful and accurate. Now, this clearly had tragic results, and this clearly needs to be investigated.”

The administration stopped shipments of some bombs to Israel due to concerns that they could be used in Rafah.

The Israeli raid comes despite a ruling issued by the UN Supreme Court on Friday, which ordered Israel to immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah. Israel said the court ruling gave it scope to take military action.

Contributing: Kim Helmgard and John Bacon, USA TODAY; Reuters

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