US Fumes Over IDF Strike On Aid Workers, But Still Refuses 'Conditions' On Military Transfers

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Apr 02, 2024 - 08:35 PM

Update(1635ET): In a Tuesday afternoon press briefing, National Security Council Communications Adviser John Kirby expressed that the US is "outraged" by the targeted strike on the World Central Kitchen (WCK) convoy overnight. "We were outraged to learn of an IDF strike that killed a number of civilian humanitarian workers yesterday from the World Central Kitchen, which has been relentlessly working to get food to those who are hungry in Gaza," he said.

Kirby laid out that the US expects Israel to conduct a broad and legitimate investigation: "We hope that those findings will be made public, and that there is appropriate accountability held," he told the briefing. Kirby vowed that the US "will continue to press Israel to do more" in protecting aid workers, and noted over 200 local and international aid workers have been killed since the Gaza war started.

The White House also confirmed that President Biden called WCK founder José Andrés and expressed condolences for the seven staff members killed in the strike. The celebrity chef on Tuesday lashed out at Israel for its "indiscriminate killing" of his employees while they were delivering aid.

One of the vehicles in the WCK convoy was hit with what appears a very targeted strike. Image via Al Jazeera

"The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing. It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon," Andrés said on X. Israel has called it "unintentional" and "tragic" - with PM Netanyahu earlier in the day expressing regret (see below).

The killing of the aid workers, which included three British nationals, an Australian, a Polish national, an American-Canadian dual citizen and a Palestinian, has been featured throughout the day by US news networks. For example for the early half of Tuesday it was the top frontpage story at 

But despite the US expressing "outrage" over the attack, when members of the White House press pool got into Q&A with Kirby, he still passionately emphasized that Israel has not violated international humanitarian norms in Gaza. This was pointed out as several clips circulated of the heated exchange online...

It also became evident in the briefing that the Biden administration still does not intend to attach any conditions to Israel's use of US-supplied weaponry.

In fact, CNN has just reported, "The Biden administration is close to approving the sale of as many as 50 American-made F-15 fighter jets to Israel, in a deal expected to be worth more than $18 billion, according to three people familiar with the matter."

But without doubt, this new tragedy in Gaza has significantly ramped up the pressure both on the Netanyahu government and on Washington, with the latter expected by outside countries to impose more punitive measures on Israel, or to at least cut off the flow of weapons and ammo.

Israel's military later in the day issued the following explanation after a preliminary investigation:

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On Monday an Israeli airstrike on the central Gaza town of of Deir al-Balah killed seven international aid workers with World Central Kitchen, resulting in the well-known charity announcing Tuesday that it must suspend operations to deliver food aid to Gaza.

Footage confirming their deaths is driving international outrage and again ramping up the pressure on Israel. The Associated Press writes Tuesday, "Footage showed the bodies, several wearing protective gear with the charity’s logo, at a hospital in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah." The report details, "Those killed include three British nationals, an Australian, a Polish national, an American-Canadian dual citizen and a Palestinian, according to hospital records."

Australian national Lalzawmi "Zomi" Frankcom (left) was among those confirmed killed - World Central Kitchen/X

The well-known charity was founded in 2010 by Spanish American chef and restaurateur José Andrés, and has been among many world charities and NGOs embedded in Gaza amid the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe.

World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore has said in a fresh statement: "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."

"This is unforgivable," Gore added. The statement underscored that the team "was traveling in a deconflicted zone in two armored cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle." 

What makes this tragedy look even worse for Israel is that it was a targeted drone strike on a convoy operated by the international charity. Israel's Haaretz reports that the attack was ostensibly targeting a Hamas member who wasn't there. It was "launched because of suspicion that a terrorist was travelling with the convoy." What's more is that the report indicates the convoy was bombed three times.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed regret in a Tuesday statement, and amid growing pressure from the press and Western governments, acknowledging his military had conducted the "unintended strike" on "innocent people in the Gaza Strip."

"Unfortunately, in the past day, there was a tragic incident of an unintentional hit by our forces on innocent people in the Gaza Strip. It happens during war. We are in touch with governments, and we’ll do everything so this doesn’t happen again," his full statement said, though without mentioning World Central Kitchen by name.

World Central Kitchen vehicle that was hit in an Israeli strike on Monday in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza. EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Cyprus has said that as a result of the incident and the charity's forced shuttering of operations, recently arrived ships have turned back while loaded with some 240 tons of undelivered aid.

Meanwhile, the US State Department has said that famine is likely already present in parts of Gaza. A State Dept. official told Reuters. "While we can say with confidence that famine is a significant risk in the south and center but not present, in the north, it is both a risk and quite possibly is present in at least some areas."

The US Army's project to build a large pier off Gaza's coast to facilitate maritime aid deliveries is still likely at least two months out as US Navy ships carrying the building equipment and engineering personnel are still traversing the Atlantic while en route to the eastern Mediterranean.