Israel denies attack on camp near Rafah that Gaza officials say killed 21 people

CAIRO/GAZA: The Israeli military denied attacking a tent camp west of the city of Rafah on Tuesday (May 28) after Gaza health authorities said Israeli tank shelling had killed at least 21 people there, in what Israel has designated a civil evacuation zone.

Earlier, defying an appeal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Israeli tanks advanced into the heart of Rafah for the first time after a night of intense shelling, as Spain, Ireland and Norway officially recognized a Palestinian state, a move that deepened Israel’s international isolation.

The United States, Israel’s closest ally, reiterated its opposition to a major Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, but said it did not believe such an operation was underway.

Describing the American vision of what would constitute a major offensive in Rafah, White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters that it would involve “large numbers of troops in columns and formations in some kind of coordinated maneuver.” against multiple targets on the ground.

“That’s a major ground operation,” Kirby said. “We haven’t seen that.”

Two days after an Israeli airstrike on another camp sparked global condemnation, Gaza emergency services said four tank shells hit a group of tents on Tuesday in Al-Mawasi, a coastal strip to which Israel had advised civilians in Rafah to move for safety.

At least 12 of Tuesday’s dead were women, according to medical officials in the Palestinian enclave run by Hamas militants.

But the Israeli military later said in a statement: “Contrary to reports in recent hours, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) did not attack in the Al-Mawasi Humanitarian Area.”