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Israeli Strikes Kill 7 Aid Workers in Gaza

WorldMiddle EastIsraeli Strikes Kill 7 Aid Workers in Gaza

Israeli strikes on an aid convoy run by the charity group World Central Kitchen killed seven of its workers in the Gaza Strip, setting off international outrage and underscoring the risks to humanitarian workers trying to alleviate a looming famine.

The aid workers — a Palestinian, an Australian, a Pole, three Britons and a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen — were traveling in two armored vehicles clearly marked with the World Central Kitchen logo and a third vehicle when they came under fire late Monday night, according to the charity.

The convoy was hit despite having coordinated its movements with the Israeli military, the group said. The workers were leaving a warehouse in Deir al Balah, in central Gaza, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid that had arrived by boat on Monday, World Central Kitchen said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who rarely comments on deadly strikes in Gaza, released a videotaped statement on Tuesday in which he appeared to acknowledge that the Israeli military was responsible. Israel launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the strikes.

“Unfortunately, in the last day there was a tragic case of our forces unintentionally hitting innocent people in the Gaza Strip,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “It happens in war, we are fully examining this, we are in contact with the governments and we will do everything so that this thing does not happen again.”

Israel’s military said that the strikes had resulted from a “misidentification.”

“It was a mistake that followed a misidentification, at night during the war in a very complex condition,” the Israeli military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, said in a video. “It shouldn’t have happened.”

World Central Kitchen, which was founded by the renowned chef José Andrés, said on Tuesday that it was suspending operations in the territory.

“This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war,” Erin Gore, the group’s chief executive, said in a statement. “This is unforgivable.”

Several nations, including the home countries of the people killed, voiced indignation and demanded explanations. President Biden said in a social media post: “I am outraged and heartbroken by the deaths of seven humanitarian workers from World Central Kitchen, including one American, in Gaza yesterday. Incidents like yesterday’s simply should not happen.”

David Cameron, the British foreign secretary, called the workers’ deaths “completely unacceptable” in a post, adding, “Israel must urgently explain how this happened and make major changes to ensure the safety of aid workers.”

Videos and photos verified by The New York Times suggest the convoy was hit multiple times. The imagery shows three destroyed white vehicles, with the northernmost and southernmost vehicles nearly a mile and a half apart.

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