Hours after an armed wing of the Palestine national liberation movement said it had captured Israeli soldiers alive in Jabaliya in northern Gaza, after midnight on Sunday, the occupation ordered its air force to drop one-ton bombs on Palestinian civilians sheltering in tents near the UNRWA office in Rafah in southern Gaza.

Reports describe fires engulfing the shelter and rescuers retrieving pieces of children and the bodies of elderly people charred beyond recognition.

Occupation president Benjamin Netanyahu called the attack “a tragic mistake” and the military said it had ordered an inquiry.

Soon after the bombing that killed at least 45 Palestinians, Israel reportedly bombed two residential buildings in Rafah, killing 5 people and injuring many more.

The journalist Abdallah Aljamal reported that mass rallies were organised in Gaza after the capture of occupation soldiers announced by al-Qassam Brigades spokesperson Abu Obeida.

“The capture of Israeli soldiers brought joy back to our hearts,” he was told by Ayman Amouna, a young resident of Rafah whose home was destroyed and many of whose relatives were killed by Israeli shelling.

“When Abu Obeida announced the capture of Israeli soldiers, we went out in a small march around the refugee camps to celebrate the news. We have been living under occupation for 76 years, and we have no choice but to resist the occupation to drive it out of our country and reclaim all our occupied lands,” he was told by Mohammed al-Issawi, a Palestinian whose home was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike and who now lives in a shelter in Deir al Balah.

“The occupation knows well that it cannot free its captives by force, and it is sinking in the sands of Gaza. Its only option is to negotiate an exchange deal that complies with the Resistance’s conditions and achieves the dignified life we seek,” he was told by Ahmed Abdullah, all of whose family members were killed when Israel bombed their home in Nuseirat.

Abdullah added that the occupation is holding hostage over 10,000 Palestinians in its prisons, and it is the right of the Palestinian people to free their prisoners. “This is what the Resistance groups are working on. We want the release of all our detainees from Israeli prisons.”

The soldiers’ capture and mass murder of civilians in Rafah follow the Palestinian resistance group Hamas’s acceptance of a ceasefire proposal that everybody ignored. On May 6, the Hamas political leadership announced its acceptance of a ceasefire planned in six-week stages that would include the release of all detainees in Palestine in exchange for an agreed number of hostages in occupation prisons, the withdrawal of soldiers, drone surveillance and the siege on the Gaza strip, and a permanent ceasefire and reconstruction.

The response of the United States, Israel and Egypt was for Israeli troops to take control of the Rafah crossing, a key lifeline for aid on the border of Egypt with Palestine. More bombing, displacement and massacres have followed.

Qatar, also involved in the negotiations, said Monday that the attack on the Rafah displacement camp would “complicate ongoing mediation efforts and hinder reaching an agreement for an immediate and permanent ceasefire”.

Earlier in May, days before Hamas accept the ceasefire proposal, Netanyahu’s office also released another vision of a future for the Gaza strip. The Jerusalem Post reported that the plan envisions a “demilitarized” Gaza where Israel retains control, confining Palestinians to “safe zones” where they are “de-radicalized” and “re-educated” while Israel builds “new” modern cities in the nearly destroyed coastal enclave.

Asked about the International Criminal Court’s move toward issuing arrest warrants against Netanyahu and other leaders of the occupation as well as the resistance, elderly Gaza resident Nasreen al-Halaw told Aljamal of her “surprise and shock” at the ICC prosecutor’s statement, which considers events only since October 7, for “ignoring the real reasons behind these events.”

“The statement represents a clear distortion of the truth,” said al-Halaw. “It is a political decision that aligns with the agendas of the countries supporting the occupation. The court should indict Benjamin Netanyahu, his war minister, Yoav Gallant, and all the other occupation leaders who committed war crimes against our people.”

Gaza resident Zahwa al-Zard, all of whose family members have been killed by Israel, said, “I expected the court to issue arrest warrants against all their leaders involved in these heinous crimes. This is proof of Israeli dominance over the court’s decisions. It’s a clear politicization of all court decisions and a disregard for the ongoing crimes in Gaza.”

Soon after the Qassam Brigades claimed the capture of Israeli soldiers on Sunday, military analysts were reported saying that, from the uniform and weapons shown in the propaganda, the captured soldier or soldiers may have been from an elite special unit of the Israeli army, or a command unit that is part of the Shin Bet internal security agency. The resistance group said it lured the soldiers into a tunnel they believed hostages were being held in, before capturing, wounding or killing 14.

Armed wing of the Hamas resistance faction, the Qassam Brigades are named for Sheikh Izzuddin al-Qassam, who organised militant commando groups against Zionist militias in the 1930s, after Palestinian delegations to London had failed to change the British policy of settling armed Zionists in Palestine.

The League of Nations, which “enabled” that imperialism in 1947, on May 10 overwhelmingly voted to give Palestine further rights in the organisation, after a resolution to offer it full membership was vetoed by the United States last month.

The dreams and demand for a demilitarised and depoliticised Palestinian state outside of Israel echo the efforts of the British Empire and the League of Nations in Palestine during the Mandate. In a recent review of a book on The Mandatory Rape of Palestine by the ecological economist Blake Alcott, the historian Jeremy Salt describes:

“Britain forced Zionism on the population by allowing mass ‘immigration’, by arming the zionists while disarming the Palestinians, and by using all other weapons available to an occupying power to crush resistance. Thousands of Palestinians were killed when they rebelled in the 1930s, all attempts to reason with the British having failed.

“Executions and the collective punishment of whole villages were part of how Britain lived up to its ‘sacred trust of civilization.’ The leadership needed for the coming stages of confrontation with the zionists was largely decapitated. The British did their dirty work for them.”

On Tuesday, Ireland, Norway and Spain joined the 146 U.N. member states that now recognise Palestine.

On May 7, the Bahamas formally recognised Palestine as a state, saying it would uphold the commitment to “the right of self-determination of peoples” articulated in international covenants and laws. “The Bahamas became an independent nation in 1973 as an act of self-determination. Therefore, The Bahamas supports the legal right of the Palestinian people of self-determination,’” its foreign ministry said.

Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago too joined the “Caribbean Consensus” on Palestine last month.

The flurry of recognition comes as popular opinion in the NATO states, and among young people in particular, moves to question 1948 and the very basis of Israel, and ask why the colonial settler state should not be dismantled and handed over to the Palestinians to determine for themselves what kind of state and society they would want in historic Palestine.

As such it is an attempt to flog the “two-state solution” in occupied Palestine, where a heavily circumscribed and demilitarised Palestinian “state” is suffered to exist alongside the Zionist occupation.

Besides the military, establishment and religious support in the United States for a White/Western colony in and around Jerusalem, the occupation also gives NATO member states a nuclear-armed outpost with military bases and a dependent government in Asia near Russia, China and Iran, with access to fossil fuel reserves and a shipping channel in Africa.

The recent statements of recognition for Palestine all emphasise the two-state solution and the slow fall from favour of Benjamin Netanyahu, though not Israel, suggest that NATO needs another partner in its quest for a sustained military presence in the region. The U.S. establishment has backed this desire to the point of criminal charges being filed in domestic and international courts against Israeli ministers as well as its president Joe Biden and defence secretary Lloyd Austin for complicity in genocide.

A greater threat than their unlikely conviction is the growing public support, in effect, of the U.N. resolutions guaranteeing forcibly expelled Palestinians and their descendants the right of return. Like the resolutions that commit Pakistan and India to a plebiscite in Kashmir, these resolutions remain legally binding. A racist two-state solution, premised on the continuation of the racist Israeli state, would deny Palestinians the right of return, and deny them self-determination in the portion of Palestine they are “given” by colonial powers.

On Monday, after the Israeli massacre in Rafah, Hamas stated that it held “the American administration and President Biden in particular fully responsible for this massacre, which the Zionist entity would not have committed without American support and the green light for it to invade Rafah, despite its being crowded with displaced citizens.”

Separately, it called on “our people, our nation, and the free people of the world to escalate public activities of anger and pressure to stop the aggression and genocide war. We also call on the peoples of our Arab and Islamic nation and the free peoples around the world to intensify the movement and activities denouncing the genocide war, and to put pressure to sever relations with this rogue entity that continues to disdain the international community and U.N. resolutions, especially the recent decision of the International Court of Justice, which demanded that it stop its aggression and invasion of Rafah.”