Calling Israeli airstrikes “limited” and “targeted,” White House fully endorses Rafah massacre

Rafah Gaza 7
Displaced Palestinians inspect their tents destroyed by Israel’s bombardment, adjacent to an UNRWA facility west of Rafah city, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 28, 2024 [AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi]

In a series of press briefings on Tuesday, the Biden administration fully endorsed the Israeli airstrikes on women and children in the Rafah refugee camps in southern Gaza that killed 45 people on Sunday and another 21 on Tuesday.

White House National Security spokesman John Kirby called Sunday’s airstrike “targeted” and justified the strike by claiming it killed members of the Hamas movement. “They killed Hamas operatives and a Hamas compound,” Kirby said. “I don’t know how anybody could dispute that they weren’t trying to go after Hamas in a targeted, precise way,” Kirby said of the bombardment that killed dozens and wounded hundreds of Palestinian civilians.

Kirby fully endorsed Israel’s ongoing aerial assault and ground offensive in Gaza, declaring, “If you think Hamas is just gone, they’re not gone from Rafah or from Gaza. And if you think they’ve abandoned their genocidal intent towards the nation of Israel, think again, they haven’t. So Israel has every right to not want to live next to that kind of threat. And yes, we’re going to continue to provide them the capabilities to go after it.”

Kirby explained that after the latest mass killings, there would be “no policy changes” on the part of the United States. Asked why the White House continued to provide unlimited support to Israel despite overwhelming popular opposition to this policy, Kirby declared, “The president does not make decisions or execute policy based on public opinion polling.”

In a separate briefing, Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh called Israel’s attack on Gaza “limited.”

For weeks, the US media had promoted the claim that the Biden administration had set a “red line” prohibiting Israel from attacking Rafah, the southernmost city of Gaza where over 1 million displaced people had sought shelter. In reality, while making statements that seemed critical of Netanyahu, the White House openly declared that it has a “shared objective” with Israel to see “Hamas defeated in Rafah.”

Before the eyes of the whole world, the Biden administration’s claims to oppose the killing of Palestinian civilians have been exposed as a total fraud, and Biden emerges clearly as the leading international sponsor of the Gaza genocide, complicit in war crimes alongside Netanyahu.

The series of massacres in Rafah and their open endorsement by the Biden administration mark the response by Israel and the United States to last week’s ruling by the International Court of Justice commanding Israel to stop killing Palestinians in Rafah. The Netanyahu and Biden administrations are asserting their right to commit any crime in defiance of both international law and mass popular opposition.

International human rights organizations were unequivocal in their denunciation of the Biden administration’s role in the genocide.

“Let us be clear: Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. The US is complicit in genocide,” wrote the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention. “We are disgusted by Western leaders, especially in the USA, Germany, and the UK. They have demonstrated not only that they don’t care one bit about genocide prevention and human rights, but also that they are willing to allow an ally to commit atrocity crimes while they offer material and diplomatic support. … They should also be put on trial.”

In a statement on X, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wrote, “Day after day, massacre after massacre, and the Biden administration continues to ship bombs to the far-right, openly genocidal Israeli government that it uses to slaughter Palestinian children, women, medical personnel, journalists, international aid workers, and the sick and elderly, and continues to shield Israel from international accountability.”

The White House coupled its endorsement of the Rafah massacre with absurd and false statements about the situation on the ground. As Israeli forces published photos and videos of tanks occupying the center of Rafah, the White House spokespeople denied that ground forces had moved into the city.

“They are moving along something called the Philadelphi Corridor, which is on the outskirts of the town, not in the town proper,” Kirby said, declaring, “We have not seen a major ground operation.” This was the same day that the FT declared in its lead news story, “Israeli tanks enter central Rafah,” stating that Israel was “sending tanks into the heart of Gaza’s southernmost city despite growing international condemnation of the operation.”

On Tuesday, Israeli forces killed at least 21 people, including 13 women and girls, in an airstrike on a refugee camp in Rafah. Reporting on the strike in al-Mawasi, Palestinian journalist Bisan Owda said in a video, “Behind me, at least until now 18 people were killed only 30 minutes ago while a bomb targeted a tent with only civilians, only civilians, only women and children. All these people were in a tent getting ready to have their lunch, and they were bombed, they were targeted.”

Owda added, “People are shocked, people cannot talk, people found themselves gathering the remains of human bodies, of their beloved ones. So, I just cannot describe anything because I’m afraid of looking under my feet because people are still collecting human pieces.”

To date, 1 million people have been forced to flee the city of Rafah, the United Nations said Tuesday, with nowhere safe to go. The assault on Rafah has shattered the humanitarian food distribution system throughout Gaza, with next to no food entering the territory, which is on the verge of famine.

“There has been nothing limited about the suffering and misery that Israel’s military operation in Rafah has brought to the people of Gaza…” said UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths. “[It] has cut off the flow of aid into southern Gaza and crippled a humanitarian operation already stretched beyond its breaking point. It has halted food distributions in the south and slowed the supply of fuel for Gaza’s lifelines— bakeries, hospitals and water wells—to a mere trickle … [at] a time when the people of Gaza are staring down famine.”

Originally published in WSWS.ORG

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