UPDATE: World leaders "outraged" after Israeli airstrike kills dozens in Gaza refugee camp

 Hani Alshaer/Anadolu via Getty Images
Hani Alshaer/Anadolu via Getty Images
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An Israeli strike on a camp near Rafah that had been designated as a "safe zone" for displaced Palestinian civilians killed at least 45 people on Sunday and injured more than 200 others, according to multiple media reports and the Gaza Health Ministry. CNN reported that video apparently shot at the Tal al-Sultan camp showed "scenes of horror: charred bodies being pulled from rubble, a man holding the headless body of a child, fire raging from tents in the background."

Reaction from around the world included many expressions of outrage, with the EU's foreign policy chief, the German foreign minister and French President Emmanuel Macron all calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset on Monday, according to media reports, that the killing of civilians had been a tragic mistake. "Despite our utmost effort not to harm noncombatants," he said, "something unfortunately went tragically wrong." Earlier Monday, the Israel Defense Forces announced it would launch an investigation into the "circumstances of the deaths of civilians in the area of the strike," under the auspices of a semi-independent fact-finding body.

Israeli officials initially stated that the attack had killed two senior Hamas commanders, and that they had not expected significant civilian casualties.

On Friday, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt its military operation in Rafah. On Monday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock described the ICJ's rulings as "binding," adding, "of course they have to be followed." Speaking before a special meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Baerbock continued, “We are currently experiencing the opposite. ... At the same time we see that it is no gain for Israel's security, that no hostage will be freed when right now people are being burned in tents. International humanitarian law applies to everyone, including Israeli warfare."

This may represent a significant change in tone. For obvious historical reasons, Germany has long been Israel's closest European ally.

At the same Brussels conference, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell criticized Israel for continuing "the military action that it has been asked to stop,” adding that it was "completely unacceptable" for Israeli officials to accuse the International Criminal Court or the ICJ of antisemitism.

Macron, who has held a series of talks in Paris aimed at resolving the Gaza conflict, said Monday that he was "outraged" by reports of the devastating strike on the Rafah camp. "I call for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire," the French president concluded.