US expresses concern over Rafah airstrike but continues military aid to Israel

A senior US government official has expressed concern over the Israeli bombing in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip that killed dozens of people, but indicated there is no change to the US policy of providing military aid to Israel.

Health officials in Gaza said the Israeli airstrike on a camp for displaced people northwest of Rafah on Sunday killed at least 45 people, including women and children. They also said a shelling on another camp in Rafah on Tuesday killed at least 21 people.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said in a news conference on Tuesday that the loss of innocent lives in Sunday's strike was "heartbreaking" and "horrific." He called on Israel to "take every precaution possible to do more to protect innocent life."

Kirby refrained from commenting on Tuesday's shelling as Israel's military has denied responsibility.

Reuters news agency and other media outlets quoted witnesses as saying Israeli tanks and armored vehicles were spotted in central Rafah at the time.

But Kirby said the US has not seen evidence of what it considers a major ground offensive.

When asked by reporters of any changes to US policy following Sunday's airstrike and ongoing ground operations, Kirby said, "I have no policy changes to speak to." He acknowledged Sunday's incident would not prompt the US to halt its military aid to Israel.

US President Joe Biden previously warned that the US would withhold weapons shipments to Israel if it conducts a full-scale ground invasion in Rafah.

US media are questioning the Biden administration's criteria for halting military aid as the number of civilian casualties continue to rise.