German spokesman: Israeli airstrike in Rafah presumably a ‘mistake’

Berlin, May 27 (IANS/DPA) The German government on Monday described a deadly Israeli airstrike near Rafah that killed at least 35 Palestinians as presumably “a mistake” and again defended Israel’s “right to defend itself within the framework of international law”.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are currently investigating whether their strike near Rafah in the Gaza Strip was a targeted attack, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in Berlin.

“In any case, a mistake has been made, that can already be said,” Hebestreit added.

The question of the motivation for the attack still had to be examined, he said.

Asked about allegations of Israeli war crimes in Gaza, Hebestreit said that the German government would withhold judgment.

“The conclusion as to whether this is a war crime in terms of international law is something that must be left to lawyers who know the exact facts,” he added.

If there is evidence of such a crime, the German government would certainly condemn it, Hebestreit said.

But he warned that such conclusions cannot be drawn from gruesome photos of the aftermath of the strike, and noted recent rockets launched from Rafah toward Tel Aviv.

“First investigate what exactly happened and then make a judgment. And not make an immediate judgment based on pictures,” Hebestreit said.

When asked whether Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck’s statement at the weekend that military attacks on refugee camps were incompatible with international law represented the position of the entire German government, Hebestreit said: “Yes.”



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