Israel condemned for aid worker deaths in Gaza

Joe Biden  credit: Shutterstock
Joe Biden credit: Shutterstock

US President Biden:  Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers. IDF chief of staff Halevi: The strike was a mistake that followed a misidentification.

Israel has been roundly condemned for the incident on Monday night in which seven aid workers with the World Central Kitchen organization (WCK) were killed by missile fire on their vehicles from an IDF UAV. Three of the aid workers were British, the others were Polish, Australian, US-Canadian, and Palestinian.

US President Joe Biden said in a statement yesterday: "I am outraged and heartbroken by the deaths of seven humanitarian workers from World Central Kitchen, including one American, in Gaza yesterday." Biden added that the deaths of the WCK workers were not an isolated incident, and that the war in the Gaza Strip had been "one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed.. This is a major reason why distributing humanitarian aid in Gaza has been so difficult - because Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians."

Biden said that Israel’s investigation "must be swift, it must bring accountability, and its findings must be made public." 

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak spoke to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called for "a thorough and transparent independent investigation." Israel’s ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely was summoned to the Foreign Office over the incident. "I set out the government's unequivocal condemnation of the appalling killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, including three British nationals. I requested a quick and transparent investigation, shared with the international community, and full accountability," Britain's Minister for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell is quoted by Reuters as saying.

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese spoke to Netanyahu to express "anger and concern" and demanded "a full and proper explanation". Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau also called for accountability. Trudeau said that it was "absolutely unacceptable for aid workers to be killed" by the IDF."

For his part, Netanyahu said in a video statement yesterday, "Unfortunately in the past day, there was a tragic event in which our forces unintentionally harmed non-combatants in the Gaza Strip. This happens in war. We are conducting a thorough inquiry and are in contact with the governments. We will do everything to prevent a recurrence."

IDF chief of staff Herzl Halevi said in a statement in English about the deaths of the WCK workers: "I want to be very clear: the strike was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers. It was a mistake that followed a misidentification, at night during a war in very complex conditions. It shouldn’t have happened.

"We see great importance in the continued delivery of humanitarian aid, and we will keep working to facilitate this vital effort…The IDF works together closely with the World Central Kitchen and greatly appreciates the important work that they do." Halevi mentioned the distribution of food by WCK to people in Israel displaced by the war.

"This incident was a grave mistake. Israel is at war with Hamas, not with the people of Gaza. We are sorry for the unintentional harm to the members of WCK," Halevi said.

Halevi promised an independent investigation into the incident, and said the findings would be presented to WCK and other relevant international organizations. Speaking from IDF Southern Command, he said he had visited a newly opened humanitarian aid command center set up "to improve the way we coordinate aid distribution in Gaza." 

WCK and other aid organizations have meanwhile suspended their activities in the Gaza Strip.

WCK was founded by chef José Andrés. In an op-ed piece in Israeli daily "Yedioth Aharonoth" today, Andrés stressed the organization’s impartiality. "From day one, we have fed Israelis as well as Palestinians. All across Israel, we have served more than 1.75 million hot meals. We have fed families displaced by Hezbollah rockets in the north. We have fed grieving families from the south," he writes.

Calling on Israel to improve access to humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip, he writes: "Israel is better than the way this war is being waged. It is better than blocking food and medicine to civilians. It is better than killing aid workers who coordinate their movements with the IDF. The Israeli government needs to open land routes to food and medicine today. It needs to stop killing civilians and aid workers today. It needs to start the long journey to peace today."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on April 3, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Joe Biden  credit: Shutterstock
Joe Biden credit: Shutterstock
Twitter Facebook Linkedin RSS Newsletters גלובס Israel Business Conference 2018