News World

Israeli PM Netanyahu admits Gaza strike ‘unintentionally’ killed 7 aid workers

Israel says was targeting 'Hamas gunman' when it killed Gaza aid workers
Source: Video Screenshot

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted Tuesday that Israel’s military had “unintentionally” killed seven aid workers with a US charity in an air strike in Gaza.

World Central Kitchen had earlier said a “targeted attack” by Israeli forces on Monday had killed the group, which included Australian, British, Palestinian, Polish and US-Canadian employees.

Britain summoned the Israeli ambassador to London to hear its “unequivocal condemnation” of the strike, with three of those killed British, and demanded “full accountability”.

Netanyahu said it was a “tragic case” that would be investigated “right to the end”, stopping short of apologising for the deaths.

But President Isaac Herzog took that step, telling WCK founder Jose Andres of his “deep sorrow and sincere apologies over the tragic loss of life”.

US President Joe Biden also told Andres, a Spanish-American celebrity chef, that “he’s heartbroken” and insisted aid workers be protected, the White House said.

The White House added it was “outraged”, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington urged “a swift, thorough and impartial investigation to understand exactly what happened”.

AFPTV footage showed the roof of a vehicle emblazoned with the group’s logo had been punctured, alongside the mangled wreck of other vehicles.

Israeli strikes continued throughout the territory with the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza saying 71 people were killed between Monday and Tuesday.

The Israeli military on Monday ended a two-week operation around Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, which left the complex in ruins and killed hundreds.

And regional tensions have surged after Israel was blamed for an air strike on the Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday that killed seven Revolutionary Guards, two of them generals.

Tehran — which backs Hamas and other groups fighting Israel and its allies across the region — has vowed revenge against its long-time foe.


– ‘Catastrophic’ hunger –


Netanyahu has promised to push on with the war to destroy Hamas despite nightly street protests at home demanding he step down.

He has also faced some pushback from staunch ally the United States.

The White House said in a statement Monday it had once again expressed concerns to Israel about a planned offensive in Gaza’s crowded southern city of Rafah, which is crowded with 1.5 million people, most of them displaced by the war.

Israel pledged to “take these concerns into account”.

The bloodiest-ever Gaza war erupted with Hamas’s October 7 attack, which resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory campaign has killed at least 32,916 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

Palestinian militants also seized around 250 hostages. Israel believes about 130 remain in Gaza, including 34 presumed dead.

After ending its two-week operation at Al-Shifa Hospital, the Israeli military said its troops had killed 200 enemy fighters in the battle.

A spokesman for Gaza’s civil defence agency said 300 people had been killed in and around the hospital.

Military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said there were “more terrorists in the hospital than patients or medical staff”, with 900 suspects detained, of whom over 500 were “definitely” militants.

Hamas has repeatedly denied operating from hospitals.

Gaza has been under Israeli blockade since the start of the war, with the United Nations accusing Israel of preventing humanitarian aid deliveries and warning of “catastrophic” hunger.

The World Bank on Tuesday released an interim assessment that said the war had caused about $18.5 billion worth of damage to Gaza’s critical infrastructure.

That was equivalent to 97 percent of the combined economic output of the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank in 2022, it said.


– ‘Heartbroken’ by deaths –


US-based WCK had been working to unload food brought to Gaza by sea from Cyprus.

The group’s CEO Erin Gore said: “I am heartbroken and appalled that we — World Central Kitchen and the world — lost beautiful lives today because of a targeted attack by the (Israeli army).”

The charity said the team was travelling in a “de-conflicted” area in a convoy of “two armoured cars branded with the WCK logo” and another vehicle at the time of the strike.

“Despite coordinating movements with the (Israeli army), the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on the maritime route,” it said.

Cyprus said on Tuesday that the ship, the Jennifer, was returning to the Mediterranean island with around 240 tons of aid that had not been unloaded.

The Israeli military said it was “conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident”.

There was widespread condemnation of the attack, with the UN slamming Israel’s “disregard” for humanitarian law.

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths expressed “outrage” over the deaths, describing the aid workers as “heroes killed while trying to feed starving people,” a statement said.

And Poland demanded compensation for the families of the seven aid workers, one of whom is Polish.


– Iran vows revenge –


The Gaza war has ramped up tension between Israel and bitter foe Iran, as well as the groups it backs including Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Violence has also flared in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Monday’s strike in Damascus killed 13, including seven Iranians and six Syrians, Iranian state TV reported.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said seven of its members were killed, including two commanders of the Quds Force — its foreign operations arm.

Israel has not commented but Iran has blamed its foe for the attack, with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying the “evil Zionist regime will be punished” for the “crime”.

The UN Security Council was to discuss the strike later Tuesday at a meeting requested by Russia, an ally of Syria’s government.


About the author


Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

Daily Newsletter