Netanyahu takes responsibility for deadly strike on World Central Kitchen staff

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Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took responsibility Tuesday for a deadly strike that killed seven aid workers for the charity group World Central Kitchen the day prior.

Netanyahu, who was just discharged from the hospital following a hernia surgical operation, acknowledged a “tragic event in which our forces unintentionally harmed non-combatants in the Gaza Strip.”

“This happens in war,” he said in a statement. “We are conducting a thorough inquiry and are in contact with the governments. We will do everything to prevent a recurrence.”

The deaths of the foreign aid workers are likely to increase anger and frustration with Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, where more than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds of thousands face a famine.

Tensions between the U.S. and Israel have soared amid the war, with the Biden administration urging Israel’s military to minimize civilian deaths and allow more aid into the strip.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered his condolences in a press conference on Tuesday and said that World Central Kitchen staff has “been doing extraordinary, brave work, day in, day out” in Gaza.

“The victims of yesterday’s strike join a record number of humanitarian workers who have been killed in this particular conflict. These people are heroes. They run into the fire, not away from it. They show the best of what humanity has to offer,” he said. “They have to be protected. We shouldn’t have a situation where people who are simply trying to help their fellow human beings are themselves at grave risk.”

Blinken said the U.S. has spoken to Israel about the incident and arranged for an impartial investigation into what happened.

“We’ll see what the investigation of the incident with World Central Kitchen reveals,” he said. “But coordination has been a perennial problem. Deconfliction as well as other challenges, destroyed roads, lack of trucks within Gaza, things of that nature, [will] have to be remedied as well as the access points into Gaza.”

Israel has faced growing criticism from some Democrats in the U.S. who have expressed concern about the dire humanitarian aid situation in Gaza.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote Tuesday on X, formerly Twitter, that Israel has killed more than 200 aid workers in almost six months of war.

“That’s not an accident. No more aid for Netanyahu’s war machine,” he wrote.

World Central Kitchen suspended operations in Gaza after the deaths, with ships that had recently arrived now turning back to avoid the war zone.

The charity group said a team was traveling in an armored convoy and had coordinated with Israel about movements before the strike.

Those killed in the strike include an American-Canadian citizen, three British nationals, an Australian, a Palestinian and a Polish citizen.

Celebrity chef José Andrés, who founded World Central Kitchen, said in a statement that Israel “needs to stop this indiscriminate killing” and restricting humanitarian aid access in Gaza.

His charity group was bringing food and supplies through a recently opened sea route from the island of Cyprus to Gaza through the Mediterranean Sea.

The U.S. is also expected to use that maritime corridor once a pier is constructed off the coast of Gaza.

Adrienne Watson, the White House National Security Council spokesperson, said Monday night the U.S. was “heartbroken and deeply troubled” by the strike.

“Humanitarian aid workers must be protected as they deliver aid that is desperately needed, and we urge Israel to swiftly investigate what happened,” she said in a social media post.

Updated: 10:46 a.m.

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