'Tragic mistake': Netanyahu acknowledges deadly Israeli strike on Rafah

'Tragic mistake': Netanyahu acknowledges deadly Israeli strike on Rafah

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has acknowledged there was a “tragic mistake” after an Israeli strike killed scores in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

In a speech before parliament on Monday, he said Israel was investigating the incident that occurred on Sunday night.

Israel has faced condemnation for the devastating airstrike that Gaza health officials said killed at least 45 Palestinians, including displaced people living in tents who were burnt alive.

Even some of Israel's closest allies, particularly the United States, have expressed outrage at mounting civilian deaths in Gaza as Irseal's war against Hamas inflicts a devastating toll.

Israel insists it adheres to international law even as it faces scrutiny in the world’s top courts, one of which last week demanded that it halt the offensive in Rafah.

Sunday night's attack, which appeared to be one of the war’s deadliest, helped push the overall Palestinian death toll in the war above 36,000, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Mohammed Abuassa, who rushed to the scene in the northwestern neighbourhood of Tel al-Sultan, said rescuers “pulled out people who were in an unbearable state.”

“We pulled out children who were in pieces. We pulled out young and elderly people. The fire in the camp was unreal,” he detailed.

Gaza's Health Ministry said around half of the dead were women, children and older adults. On Monday, barefoot children poked at the blackened debris as searches continued.

France, a close European ally of Israel, said it was “outraged” by the violence.

“These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians. I call for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire,” French president Emmanuel Macron posted on X.

Rafah, the southernmost Gaza city on the border with Egypt, had housed more than a million people — about half of Gaza's population — displaced from other parts of the territory.

Most have fled once again since Israel launched what it called a limited incursion there earlier this month. Hundreds of thousands are packed into squalid tent camps in and around the city.