The U.N. Security Council is set to meet Tuesday to discuss the situation in Rafah following an Israeli airstrike that killed 45 Palestinians sheltering in a refugee camp and wounded 200 others.

Israel’s military said is it looking into the possibility that weapons stored in the area hit by the Israeli strike may have sparked a deadly fire at the refugee camp Sunday. A military spokesman said Tuesday the munitions used in the Israeli strike were too small to set off a big blaze.

The Gaza Health Ministry said the attack ignited tent fires in an area sheltering displaced people. Israel said it killed two senior Hamas militants in the attack.

Ahead of the U.N. meeting on the incident, medical personnel and residents reported new Israeli airstrikes Tuesday in the area of the same camp Israeli forces hit Sunday.

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said Tuesday that more than 1 million people have fled Rafah in the past three weeks amid Israel’s offensive.

“This happened with nowhere safe to go & amidst bombardments, lack of food & water, piles of waste & unsuitable living conditions,” the agency said on X. “Day after day, providing assistance & protection becomes nearly impossible.”

U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths issued a statement late Monday calling the Sunday attack “utterly unacceptable” and criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s explanation that what happened in Rafah was a “tragic mistake.”

“Whether the attack was a war crime or a ‘tragic mistake,’ for the people of Gaza, there is no debate,” Griffiths said. “What happened last night was the latest — and possibly most cruel — abomination. To call it ‘a mistake’ is a message that means nothing for those killed, those grieving, and those trying to save lives.”

Griffiths said the U.N. “warned that a military operation in Rafah would lead to a slaughter” and added that there are no safe areas or humanitarian zones in Gaza.

“Despite our best effort, not to harm those not involved, unfortunately a tragic mistake happened last night. We are investigating the case,” Netanyahu told the Israeli parliament.

Netanyahu has repeatedly said Israel needs to carry out an offensive in Rafah in order to achieve its goal of ensuring Hamas cannot operate in Gaza and threaten Israel in the future.

Volker Turk, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, decried the Rafah attack, saying in a statement Monday, “The images from the camp are horrific and point to no apparent change in the methods and means of warfare used by Israel that have already led to so many civilian deaths.”

Even as he noted the Israeli military’s announced investigation, Turk said it was “shockingly clear” that the decision to strike an area “densely packed with civilians” would result in the “entirely predictable outcome” of the death of more Palestinian civilians.

Turk called on Israel to abide by last week’s International Court of Justice order to totally halt its offensive in Rafah. He also urged Palestinian armed groups to stop firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel “in clear violation of international humanitarian law” and release all the remaining 100 or so hostages Hamas is holding in Gaza.

European Council President Charles Michel also called the strikes “horrendous” and urged Israel to stop its offensive in Rafah.

“Horrendous to see innocent Palestinian civilians killed in the recent attack. There is no safe zone for the internally displaced in Rafah,” Michel said on the X social media platform.

In Washington, the White House National Security Council said “the devastating images from the attack … are heartbreaking. Israel has a right to go after Hamas, and we understand this strike killed two senior Hamas terrorists who are responsible for attacks against Israeli civilians. But as we’ve been clear, Israel must take every precaution possible to protect civilians.”

Qatar’s foreign ministry said Monday the attack could complicate efforts to mediate stalled cease-fire talks and the return of the hostages held in Gaza.

The Israel-Hamas war was triggered by the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials, and led to the capture of about 250 hostages. Israel’s subsequent counteroffensive has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, a death toll that includes both civilians and combatants, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

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